Contributed by Alicia Neptune, Communications Specialist
Each year, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival presents groundbreaking work from across Canada and around the globe. Inclusivity and accessibility are two of the festival’s core values—PuSh aims to share performing arts experiences with as broad an audience as possible.
Many of the shows offer ASL-interpretation, captions, or live description. Others have written introductions that describe essential elements of the show to make the performance accessible to audience members who are Deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or live with vision loss. Relaxed performances are also offered at select shows, and include a visual story with information in pictures and words for both the venue and the performance.
PuSh shows are often groundbreaking and innovative. They push and break through boundaries to bring performing arts experiences to new audiences. Among the shows at this year’s festival: a dance performance with live description for those with vision loss, an immersive musical performance designed to be enjoyed by both Deaf and hearing audiences, and a project that invites the local community to help make a movie.
Check out our top 5 accessible shows to experience at this year’s PuSh Festival:
The Democratic Set | Jan 21-23, 25 | Free
Presented by the Neworld Theatre in collaboration with Back to Back Theatre, The Democratic Set is your chance to be part of a show at the PuSh Festival! Members of the community are invited to come to the “set,” an empty room, to film a 15-second video portrait. Participants can use their 15 seconds however they wish as the camera moves across the set. These portrait-shots are then edited together into a short film to appear as one continuous movement past many rooms, with something unique happening in each.
The set is open from January 21-23; the film screening takes place on January 25. The film will later be available online with captions.
- ASL-Interpretation Provided
- Relaxed Performance
Ikigai Machine: A Disability-Arts Vaudeville Experience / Opening Party | Jan 25 | Free
Following the screening of The Democratic Set is an opening weekend party featuring Deaf artist and curator Myles de Bastion and DJ Deaf Wish. Myles de Bastion is the founder of non-profit CymaSpace, which uses technology to translate sound waves into visual and tactile phenomena. Ikigai Machine unites music and visuals to create a hypnotic sensory experience which is both accessible and inclusive.
- Relaxed Performance
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story | Jan 24-26, 28-30 | $39
Old Stock tells the story of Chaim and Chaya, two Jewish refugees who meet in Halifax in the early 20th century. The show was inspired by the real-life story of playwright Hannah Moscovitch’s great-grandparents. This concert-theatre hybrid moves between comedy and tragedy, carried forward by a musical blend of Yiddish Klezmer and modern folk.
- Low Vision Friendly
- Captions on Jan 26
- Relaxed Performance on Jan 26
Frontera | Jan 30 | $39-80
One of the most accessible shows at PuSh, Frontera is the first dance show to be described by VocalEye in Vancouver. The multimedia performance is a fusion of light, music and movement. Frontera explores ideas about borders and surveillance through charged choreography by Dana Gingras, music by experimental rock group Fly Pan Am, and stark scenography by United Visual Artists.
- Deaf & Hard of Hearing Friendly
- Live Description
- Relaxed Viewing Spaces Available
*Includes strobing light effects
Free Admission | Jan 31 – Feb 2 | $39
In most theatrical performances, the actors are separated from the audience by the fourth wall, an imagined barrier. But in Free Admission, the barrier between Ursula Martinez and the audience is a literal wall. Her solo performance gets increasingly personal as she talks about everything from social media to feminism to her family history—all while building a wall brick by brick.
- Low Vision Friendly
- Relaxed Performance on Feb 1
- ASL Interpretation on Feb 2
For more information about accessibility at PuSh and downloadable info sheets about accessible shows, visit the Accessible PuSh page on the festival website.
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