PUSH+ EU Project (2018-21)

PUSH+ is a 3-year Creative Europe co-operation project led by Imaginate (Scotland) alongside Aaben Dans (Denmark), Krokusfestival (Belgium), Scenekunstbruket (Norway), The Ark (Ireland) and associate partner Bangkok International Children's Festival (Thailand).

PUSH+ has grown from the learning and results of PUSH, a 2-year small co-operation project exploring Gender & Sexual Identity, Migration and (over)protection and from the desire to take that learning to the next level. PUSH+ is a progression of the concepts, ethos and partnerships within PUSH, progressing its learning to offer more in-depth investigation.

PUSH+ will stimulate European dialogue and initiate new artistic ideas and performances around three important topics in performance for young audiences – Home, Failure and Different Bodies. These are topics that push us to take more risks as makers and presenters, to address the underrepresentation of different lives and bodies on our stages and to tell stories that really connect with children and who they are. Each topic will have a year-long focus with a Lab, Residency and Festival Visit/Presentation. We will also explore three artistic formats - Participatory, Site-specific and Intergenerational - across all three topics.

We have curated the following programme:

  • PUSH+ Labs - an 8-day research lab around each of the three topics
  • PUSH+ Residencies - two weeks of studio time for the early development of a Lab idea
  • PUSH+ Festival Presentations - the presentation of topic-related works in progress or public interventions created by participating artists at a partner festival
  • PUSH+ Festival Visits - a group of 10 artists and the partners visiting a partner festival to see work, take part in the PUSH+ events and network with the festival delegates and audiences
  • PUSH+ International Workshop - a 5-day workshop in Bangkok exploring the Different Bodies topic with 5 artists from Europe and 5 from Thailand
  • PUSH+ Symposium - a day-long event at The Ark in Dublin to compile, interrogate and share the ideas and research at the end of the project
  • PUSH+ Outside Eyes - an invitation to 5 experts or guests to provoke, bring cultural contexts outwith the partner countries and reflect back to the project

The first Lab will take place in Edinburgh from 23 January to 1 February 2019 around the topic of Home. There will be 3 places for artists based in each country - Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and Norway - the call out can be found here.

PUSH+: Topics

HOME - With children in mind, what is home? How do we build it? Who has a right to define it? Can we do it alone or does home, by definition, require a community? Who are the communities or agencies who enable or prevent this? Is this a local issue to be dealt with in small communities or rather, a matter of importance to national and federal states? Are children's voices being heard in the discussion and decision making around these issues? Does home have a different meaning for children and for adults? Through this topic we will explore the concept of home and ask if home is somewhere that implies a degree of permanence as opposed to a point on the map where you originated from. If you spend twenty years being raised and educated in Tehran then live in Belgium for another twenty, where is home? What is it to live in a middle space where neither country is fully home?

FAILURE - Congratulations, you have failed. Why does it sound strange to accept this? Why do we consider failure as inherently negative? When and why did society develop the ideal of complete and everlasting success as the norm of human achievement? And, when and why did society impose that ideal on all human beings as the standard of life? The best student, the best son, the best daughter, the best father, the best mother, the best family, the best friends, the best teacher, the best director, the best artist, simply the best. PUSH+ will explore the notion of failure, why we fear it, what are its artistic possibilities and whether it stunts our appetite for taking risks and discovering ourselves and the world around us.

DIFFERENT BODIES - The most basic ”thing” humans have in common is the body. No matter which culture you come from, which colour you have - you have a body and so do I. And yet the body, as well as the mind, is subject to many layers of references, meanings, expressions and biases. The ‘right’ body, the disabled body, the oversized, the old, the healthy body. The body is home of the mind and closely connected to it. If anything happens to the body, it affects the mind and vice versa. Through life both body and mind change in ability and expression. We are so used to regarding the young, normal, well-developed body and mind as the ideal, that we may find it difficult to open up to other expressions: that an old body can move in an artistically interesting way; that a person with Down’s syndrome has a broad variety of expressions; or that a child has the ability to reflect on a deep level through sensations and a psychical approach.

PUSH+: Artistic Formats

Participatory – Performance that requires audiences to participate. Can we enrich the expression by democratising the roles within the performance by changing the audience's role from being passively observant to creatively participating? How can we stage performances involving the audience so they are both participants, co-creators and observers at the same time?

Site-specific – Performance taking place outside of traditional venue spaces. Can we make performance art more present and reach new audiences by taking it out of the conventional theatre spaces? Working site-specifically can involve all kinds of non-theatrical spaces. It can be interventions that pop-up in a space without being pre-announced, it can guide the audience through landscape or it can stage a specific and relevant location in a new way.

Intergenerational – Performance with different age groups across human life. Can we make work about general human subjects that allow the audience to interpret it individually, according to the eyes that see, that is relevant for people of diverse ages and backgrounds? We will explore the artistic possibilities of working with performers of different generations on stage together.