2012 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, Vancouver

During late January and into the month of February, Vancouver’s PuSh International Performing Arts Festival tasks creative Canadian and international artists to push (hence the name) boundaries, engage audiences and expand horizons. There are far too many shows to attend all, but here are a few suggestions that will have you leaving the theatre a far more cultured soul.

Billed as “your personal ads, set to music!,” Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata considers the strange commodities one can barter on the ubiquitous online platform. This quick-witted production is written by Bill Richardson, host of CBC’s “Saturday Afternoon at the Opera,” and indie musician Veda Hille. Arts Club, Revue Stage, until Feb. 11; tickets from $25

Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and the Farewell Speech, from Japanese director Toshiki Okada, considers Japanese corporate culture, office etiquette and water-cooler gossip. A group of office temps plans a farewell party at a hot pot restaurant, whose climate-control system is being tampered with. Imaginary penguins appear (yes, you read correctly); a strange mix of circumstances point to the despair of a generation promised a brilliant future, only to end up in stifling cubicles. Japanese with English subtitles. Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, Jan. 26 – 28; tickets from $26

Almighty Voice and His WifeThis year’s festival highlights contemporary Aboriginal arts with several performances, including this Canadian play, the story of a Cree man arrested for killing a cow without a license. He escapes and a year-long manhunt ensues, elevating him to a legend. Waterfront Theatre, Feb. 1 – 4; tickets from $26

Conductor Owen Underhill leads the Turning Point Ensemble [pictured] in Colourful World, a program built around compositions by Rodney Sharman, Claude Debussy and Toru Takemitsu. Known for its innovative presentations of compositions from the past hundred years, this performance will be the musical highlight of the festival. Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, Jan. 29; tickets from $18

Image courtesy of Tim Matheson.

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