Kick & Push in full swing

The local theatre festival will run until Sept. 5

An audience watches ‘Roll Models’ at this year's festival.
Credit: 
Supplied by the Kick and Push Festival

The Kick and Push Festival, Kingston’s annual innovative performance festival, is back for another summer of strange, fun, and boundary-pushing theatre from Aug. 2 to Sept. 5.

The Journal spoke to Liam Karry, Kick and Push’s artistic producer, about this season of the festival. Karry has been involved with Kick and Push since its beginnings in 2015.

“[Kick and Push has] a real cross-section of experiences that people can participate in, all of which are fun, all of which are engaging, and all of which are made original for the festival,” Karry said in an interview.

“We have theatrical performances this year that incorporate live tabletop gaming. We have performances that incorporate improv, music, and fun. We have programming for young audiences, which is we haven't done for a couple of years, and that's pretty exciting.”

“We've got a video game, which was created by Indigenous artists last year in residency, and he's been working on it all year. And we're going to debut it, free to download.”

Upcoming performances include a musical adaptation of Robin Hood by The Lakeside Players, “Roll Models,” an interactive Dungeons and Dragons-based show, and Tin-ja, the festival’s first theatre for young audiences show since 2015. Kick and Push’s website is continuously updated with details on their newest events and performances.

Karry said this year’s performances are unique to the festival and will be a first for audiences.

“The things you see at The Kick and Push haven't been anywhere else. You have to see them here first before they move on, hopefully, to a long life,” he explained. “We're really proud to be able to create and provide opportunities for artists to create work in Kingston that’s exported elsewhere.

You're not seeing things that have been made in major centers, you're seeing things that you see first, and you've only seen here.”

In 2020, the pandemic forced Kick and Push into mainly online programming amidst a summer of provincial lockdowns and uncertainty.  Still, the festival managed to be the only presenter of live theatre in Kingston and its surrounding regions.

This year’s schedule once again features a mix of online and in-person performances.

While the festival is focusing its efforts on digital shows, Kick and Push is also putting on pop-up performances in outdoor spaces throughout Kingston’s downtown.

The festival is following COVID-19 safety measures, including contact tracing, social distancing, and requiring masks where distancing isn’t possible. Kick and Push’s full COVID-19 policy can be found on its website.

Karry said the Kick and Push team is hopeful that putting on productions outside will help to encourage locals to be comfortable returning to live, in-person theatre as Ontario weathers another pandemic summer.

“[It's] really fun to invite people to come back to the theatre in a very safe way,” Karry said.

“We thought that was really the right way to go for this summer, [getting] people back to see real live performances, but [having] them to do so in a way where they don't have to worry about everything that we've been stressed out about for the past year.”

As restrictions continue to lift in Kingston and across the province, Karry encouraged locals, tourists, and students alike to engage with the live art events happening in the city and support their local artists as they transition back to in-person performances.

“Check out The Kick and Push because I think you’re going to be surprised at what we’ve created, but also check out any of the other live events going on [in Kingston] right now.”

He anticipates exciting innovations following a difficult year-and-a-half for artists.

“It seems like it really is a time of renewal and vibrancy for the performing arts sector here. It's a great time to get out there,” said Karry. “There’s interesting stuff, maybe more interesting than it was before the pandemic.”

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