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PuShing the limits to what end?

The fourth annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival opened in Vancouver this week promising 19 days of “groundbreaking theatre, dance,…

By Tracy Fuller , in Blogs Engaging the Stage , on January 18, 2008

The fourth annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival opened in Vancouver this week promising 19 days of “groundbreaking theatre, dance, music and various hybrid forms of performance art.”

The question is: who, save for the city’s artistic community members, cares? And does it matter if no one else cares?

At a time when all manner of entertainment, media, art and music can be streamed into one’s home 24 hours a day, seven days a week, who wants to go to the theatre? What could possibly be on offer that you haven’t yet seen on YouTube or digital cable?

PuSh’s assertion that “exceptional artists can change lives and change societies,” is a tenet that is widely held but is rarely achieved on stage these days.

To be changed, society must be first be aware that the artist or performance exists. Then they must engage with the ideas being expressed.

But if everyday people aren’t in the audience, and no social dialogue surrounds the event, to what end is a performance successful?

PuSh is combining local, national and international artists in Vancouver’s creative crucible so that they can share and develop their “visionary, genre-bending, multi-disciplined, startling and original works.”

Without public involvement, debate, protest, interest, or engagement with these progressive ideas, how will society benefit from the creative boundaries PuSh is pushing?

From a newcomer’s perspective, Vancouver appears to have a thriving and productive performing arts community. But like other minority groups, their culture is insular and their connections are practically incestuous, which limits their progeny’s potential.

To be relevant in the lives of Vancouver citizens, the PuSh performances and performers will need to attract and engage the community at large.

How, and how well Old Goriot and The Four Horsemen Project do that will be the subject of the following two posts.