At last: Craig’s List and Steve Fonyo set to music

push-logo_2009Seriously, sometimes theatre marketing is all in the titles. Tonight’s line up at Club PuSh (the temporary entertainer’s lounge set up on Granville Island for the duration of the festival that I wish was a real bar in Vancouver all year round) jumps right off the page.

Two Twenty-Minute Musicals begin the entertainment tonight, followed by the “atmospheric, wry and jazzy” group The Beige. (Click for samples of a few of their tracks.) Both musicals are directed by prolific BC playwright and director – and co-founder of Victoria’s Theatre SKAM – Amiel Gladstone (check back tomorrow for a great This one goes to eleven with Amiel).

The first one caught my eye because my wife has a bona-fide addiction to Craig’s List, and she plays the thing like a harp. Do You Want What I Have Got: A Craig’s List Contata is a musical piece about the ubiquitous stuff-shuffling site, with music by Veda Hille and book by Bill Richardson. Yep, he of the CBC. Veda has a splendid blog, check it out to hear her performing one of the songs from the play; Decapitated Dolls, at home accompanied by her crying newborn. Awesome.

Next up is something called Distant Second: The Steve Fonyo Story by Geoff Berner. If you’ll scan Geoff’s Wikipedia page, you’ll get a good indication of what you may be in for with this on.

Both shows play tonight (Thursday, January 29) and tomorrow night.

Club PuSh is located at Performance Works on Granville Island – $20 at the door, free after 11:00 pm.

PuShing our potential

The 5th annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival opens tomorrow. This, Vancouver, is a very big deal. It’s something you should know about, certainly something you should support, but most importantly something you should talk about, to all those people in your life who may have the slightest bit of interest in seeing this city grow up into a major cultural epicentre.

PuSh isn’t just another theatre festival. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t even call itself a theatre festival, rather a ‘performing arts festival’. It’s a striking entity, and the fact that it even exists is worth consideration. Its mandate is not to aggregate some cool performances for us to take in for the sake of our convenience, but rather to offer us a glimpse of what the cultural life of our city could be. It’s right there in the name: PuSh is about expanding those heavy-set boundaries that we all have about where we spend our energies supporting and proliferating our cultural landscape. It’s an opportunity for us to ponder our definitions of what we consider worthwhile art, and whether or not our intake of it is regular or sufficient.

You won’t find any Shakespeare or Shanley or Schubert at PuSh, if it’s not new and innovative it doesn’t make the cut. The true genious behind what Executive Director Norman Armour and his team have got going here is the offering of a microcosm of a truly progressive art scene; a model of a city willing to chuck art at the wall to see if it sticks. The real tragedy of the thing would be to contain it safely within the 20 days of the festival.

Consider Club PuSh, a new addition this year to the fest, wherein a bar has been set up on Granville Island at which you can hang out, connect, drink and have crazy performance art explode around you. Without everyone staidly sitting quietly, all in polite shussed rows engaged in group formalism. Can you imagine a bar like that year round in Vancouver? Can you imagine our city supporting a bar like that? That just sounds like a wonderful fantasy to me. Mr. Armour calls it a “a social-networking experiment on a fairly serious scale”. I call it a place I want to hang out at. Often.

It’s about sharing public experience with our neighbours. PuSh knows you’re there in the piece with the performers, and acknowledges that live performance; whether theatre, music or dance, is merely a rehearsal without an audience. It’s a generous standpoint and we should embrace it, and share it with each other and those around us that will listen. Our future as a city of successful artists depends on it.