Event Category: Festival


A person against a neutral backdrop, with their eyes closed, holding a bouquet of mixed flowers

When you survive the unsurvivable, who do you become? Bridget Walker has written a play about the abduction of her son and it’s a smash hit. Critics are raving, but those closest to her are sent reeling. ‘Cannibal’ explores grief, the cost of sharing your story, and what it means to be indebted to someone you love.

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Raising Stanley / Life with Tulia

A portrait of a smiling person with their eyes closed, resting their chin on the back of the head of a dog

What is life like working with a guide dog? How was that dog raised? Storyteller Kim Kilpatrick, painter Karen Bailey, and director Bronwyn Steinberg vividly document the journey from puppy to working guide dog for the blind. Delving into issues of identity, accessibility, and canine service, this storytelling show incorporates original paintings through video, with audio description and music. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a dog on stage.

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Lauren & Amanda Do It

Two people in front of a neutral background - one is wearing a ball gag and has their arm around the waist of the other person, who is wearing an eye mask and is laughing with their head thrown back

Relaxed performance.

Sexy, provocative and fuckin’ funny. Join Lauren, Amanda and musical accompanist Alli in a late night talk show about sex. Think The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, but with one hot lesbian as The Roots, and two rad babes as Jimmy.

This multi-award winning show makes the uncomfortable comfortable. Let’s talk about birds, bees, fetishes, fantasies, ballgags, #metoo, love, bad dates and sex, baby.

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Content notes: Lauren & Amanda Do It is a partially improvised talk show about sex. This means that absolutely anything about sex can come up during conversation, including sexual violence, domestic abuse and sexual and gender politics.

This is the Point

Two actors on a stage set with living room furniture and large carpets. One actor is seated in a power chair, facing the camera, and the other is seated on a round coffee table, facing away from the camera. There is a projection in the background of a detail from The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo

This “play about love, sex, and disability” runs the gamut from joyous celebration to unflinching drama as it paints a collective portrait of real-life individuals whose lives have been touched by cerebral palsy. Dan and Christina are parents searching for a way in which their non-verbal son, Bruno, can share his voice. Tony, a non-verbal adult, and Liz, his long-time romantic partner, grapple with the judgments that society makes about their love and sexuality. Questions of representation, the nature of companionship, whether people of different abilities can ever connect on equal terms—all are explored here.

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Directed by Karin Randoja, this Dora Award-winning production incorporates high- and low-tech augmented communication aids (devices used by non-verbal people to express themselves) as well as projected live video feeds to create a heightened naturalistic style. Anchored by outstanding performances, This is the Point is an eye-opening and occasionally disturbing but ultimately life-affirming experience.

Content note: Includes scenes depicting physical and sexual violence.

L’Homme de Hus

A person on a brightly lit stage against a black background - the stage is covered in wooden sawhorses and the person in blurred in motion as they knock over some of the sawhorses

An adventure for performer and audience alike, Camille Boitel‘s raucous embodiment of the title character in this amazingly physical performance piece will have you laughing out loud one minute and staring in wonder the next. The premise is simple: Boitel wants to set up a table and chair, so he can face his audience. But in his skewed universe, nothing is simple. Everything—and we mean everything—goes horribly awry, as the acrobatic Boitel does existential battle with an ever-in creasing number of sawhorses determined to defeat him.

After starting as a funambulist in the circus, Boitel created the unforgettable character of L’Homme de Hus in 2002 as a man out-of-synch with himself who has a penchant for “disastrous and disastered” humour. His circus philosophy—“the insubordination of continuity, jubilation of imbalance, falling in love with vertigo…”—is an apt summary of the powerful, funny and poetic aspects of this amazing show.

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Zvizdal (Chernobyl – so far so close)

A bird's-eye view of a theatre with two large back-to-back screens and an audience in bleacher style seating. There are three individually lit models of buildings and landscapes beneath the screens, and a person at a podium at one end of the screens

Members of the Antwerp-based art collective BERLIN, together with journalist Cathy Blisson, spent five years filming Nadia and Pétro Opanassovitch Lubenoc, an elderly couple living deep within the irradiated Chernobyl exclusion zone in a place called Zvizdal. Alone, isolated—the nearest shop is 20 kilometres away—and convinced that they have grown immune to the radiation, the couple refuses to leave, despite the entreaties of officials, friends and family…

This deeply affecting documentary-installation inserts live shots of three miniature models of Nadia and Pétro’s homestead, while examining the couple’s lives in detail. The intimacy here is astonishing and very moving; it is clear that the artists and the couple formed a deep bond during their time together. What emerges in the work is a portrait of loneliness, survival, poverty, hope and unconditional love.

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Keynote: Dawn Jani Birley

Keynote: Dawn Jani Birley
Knowledge is power, but sign language is my superpower…

For a long while, society has been promoting the idea of embracing diversity, being inclusive and respecting different needs; however, as a Deaf person whose native tongue is sign language, I face many different challenges and obstacles—both in my everyday life and as an an actor. One of my biggest ordeals was studying physical theatre in London; it was a Goliath I had to overcome on a daily basis, and I survived by using intersectionality as a tool. This experience became my motivation for using art as a platform to push for positive change. Prince Hamlet is one of several works I’ve undertaken with the aim of bringing together the worlds of signers and non-signers. —Dawn Jani Birley

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Toronto Theatre Critics Award Winner for Best Actress in a Play 2017 for her role as Horatio in Prince Hamlet with Why Not Theatre and Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf Person of the Year 2017, Dawn Jani Birley is a versatile actor spanning more than ten years of professional experience in theatre and film. Her passion is to show that Deaf and hearing folks can work together on the frontlines of bringing positive change to today’s world.

Presented with SFU Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology. Industry Series events are geared to performing arts industry professionals and practitioners whether they are artists, producers or presenters; emerging, mid-career or established. Industry Series events can be accessed with a PuSh Industry Pass or Industry Pack.

Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools

Two people standing in darkness, each with a hand outstretched - together they are cradling a bright light which illuminates their faces

A concert, a conversation and a multimedia performance all in one, Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools is the meeting point for two people—Inuk artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and queer theatre-maker Evalyn Parry—and two places: Canada’s North and South. After having met on an Arctic expedition from Iqaluit to Greenland, Williamson Bathory and Parry now share a stage; these two powerful singers and storytellers, aided by music and video projection, give voice and body to the histories, culture and climate we’ve inherited, and ask how we reckon with “these sharp tools.”

In the Inuktitut language, when a knife is dull, it is said to “have no face”. The word “kiinalik” translates to mean the knife is sharp—or, “it has a face.” Embodying the stories of their heritage, Parry and Williamson Bathory put a face to the colonial histories, power structures and changing climate that lie between them, producing an unforgettable encounter in the process.

Presented with Touchstone Theatre.

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Critical Ideas: Arts + Access

Portrait of a person looking into the camera, with their head titled and resting on their hand, against a pale greyish background

As an ongoing Festival thematic concern, we ask: How is accessibility changing the way we create, curate and experience art? What do we have to gain when we re-frame our perception of disability from one of limitation to one of possibilities? For this edition of the conversation, we centre the experience of d/Deaf artists and practitioners, asking how intersectionality can be used as a tool to build bridges and address the system of inclusion.

More information on the PuSh Festival website

Presented with SFU’s Institute for Performance Studies.

Speakers: Dawn Jani Birley, Performer, and Ravi Jain, Director (Prince Hamlet); Denise Read (ASLSQ Entertainment)
Moderator: Peter Dickinson, Director, SFU’s Institute for Performance Studies

Ideas Series events are designed for all audience members who seek a deeper engagement with artists and the work they create. Ideas Series events are open to the public. Critical Ideas is a three part series in partnership with Simon Fraser University’s Institute for Performance Studies that brings together artists, critics, scholars and audiences to discuss formal, social and ideological issues affecting performance practice and reception today. Panels are moderated by Peter Dickinson and are free and open to the public.


Two people on a stage lit by a bright rectangular spotlight held by a third person. One person in the spotlight is doing a headstand facing the second person, who is leaning slightly to the side

Liu Kuan-Hsiang goes for broke in this ecstatic tribute to his late mother; the dancer and choreographer clearly has a lot to get off his chest, and his catharsis is our reward. Having recorded conversations he had with his mom during her final days, Liu plays them, subtitled in English, for the audience; along with the dialogue come the movements of three incredibly agile dancers (Yu Wan-Lun, Huang Yu-Yuan and Liu himself). One moment they’re locked together in positions of the greatest difficulty; the next, they’re jumping and thrashing, acting with the exuberance that comes from the deepest emotional release. 50 minutes, no intermission.

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Post-Show Talkback: January 25