Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

1 Vancouverite meets 100% Vancouver

Yesterday, thanks to the kindness of a friend, I experienced (attended doesn’t quite suffice! since I found myself narrating through out it), a piece at the Push Festival called 100% Vancouver. The piece was a form of statistical social anthropology combining mapping, movement, questions, truth, but centrally 100 local citizens selected in a (sorta) chain reaction and within that, representative demographics of all who live in Vancouver. (sorta)…

The participants were brave to stand up there, endearing, engaging, moving and very funny. Their individual stories, many of which were hinted at, I’d like to have heard more of.

Experiencing the piece there was a sense of being “inside” the city. I’d speculate other pieces in the Push fest will form an external looking on, or at, even while attempting to be within because of the instruments and techniques they employ to try to capture or understand who and what we are. The mirror rather than the tunnel or well. So in this regard 100% Vancouver offered something unique. Then we factor in the truth of what the people are telling us about what they live or feel and things become hazy. What’s said inside the tunnel may not be what is reflected in the mirror?

To put aside the respect I have for the bravery of those who participated (these people are not performers and their willingness to tell us something of what they think, live, have lived, is to be admired and appreciated) later I began to contemplate the bigger canvas of what the project attempted and where it might go next or where it could have gone further.

The reality of living in this city became obscured somewhat by the rising wave of civic pride (within the piece and audience) that inevitably takes place when we, visually and emotionally, connect with familiar sounds (names, areas, addresses, points of reference, the I live here geddit sense of being one of all these people before me and identifying with them — especially the most endearing characters). And I’d add when the Mayor is sitting in the back row, along with other civic celebs.

The optimism of the 100% surprised me and I wondered of the contagion factor.

Three neighbourhoods were missing: curiously close in geographic area (Oakridge, Shaughnessy and I think the third was South Cambie (or Fairview?). I think what’s absent should somehow be addressed within the piece and the difficulty of why no one could be found who met the demographic requirement because that also tells us something about where we live.

I’d love to see a further interrogation of the idea behind the piece. Something that would dig beyond the census box ticking. Perhaps something riskier, that said I recognize the barriers and reasons why that might be difficult within what was a “theatrical” and performative framework (is that the best medium?)

My friend Lori pointed out in a post discussion that the most compelling moments were when something visually engaging was happening within the piece, or when the people were doing interesting things with their bodies. There was one example that stood out when all 100 individuals physically acted out in gestures what they usually do at every hour of the day. The time was projected behind them and they’d mime their activities. It provided us with a wealth of contrast and actions and individual lives to examine and again put us “inside” the city.

I’ll upload some of the questions later to give you an idea of what was posed to the participants. The most invigorating events are those you leave and think more on or think out from. Departure points to further inquiry. This was one such event.

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