Push! Real Athletes, real stories, real theatre.

PUSH! traces the history of Paralympic competition from 1944 to the present day, weaving together six athletes’ individual journeys to paint an exceptionally diverse picture of what it is to be a world-class athlete.

Hosted on August 11-14, 2015 as part of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games arts and culture festival, PANAMANIA presented by CIBC, Tangled presented a new original production featuring Canadian artists from the disability community. Artists included media creator Murray Siple and an original live score to be written and performed by Latin percussionist Luis Orbegoso. PUSH! weaves together six diverse stories of personal struggle and astonishing accomplishments performed by a team of world class Parasport athletes: Sarai Demers, Jenna Lambert, Victoria Nolan, Paul Rosen, Martha Sandoval Gustafson, and Jody Schloss. Developed and directed by New York City’s Ping Chong + Company, PUSH! is in the tradition of their signature production Undesirable Elements, an ongoing series of community-specific interview-based theater works presented as a chamber piece of story telling; a “seated opera for the spoken word.”

Click here to download an accessible program.

This production took place in a barrier-free venue. English captions and on site attendant care were provided at every performance. ASL interpretation, barrier-free seating and audio description were available for every performance.

PANAMANIA presented by CIBC is an accessible, diverse large-scale festival that showcases excellence, creativity and a commitment to inspiring and innovative cultural events. See more at http://www.toronto2015.org/panamania

Listen to interview with PUSH! Director, Ping Chong and PANAMANIA’s Creative Director, Don Shipley on CIUT-FM here – July 15, 2015

The artists:

Portrait of Luis OrbegosoLuis Orbegoso is a renowned percussionist, arranger and producer. He has shared the stage with Stevie Wonder, Changuito, Ray de la Paz, Henry Fiol, and Nelly Furtado, among others. Orbegoso directs three bands in Toronto including Moda Eterna and will be composing and performing an original score for PUSH!

Portrait of Murray SipleMurray Siple attended Vancouver’s Emily Carr institute before moving to Whistler where he directed five independent action sport films. He then travelled internationally as an extreme-sport filmmaker until a 1996 car accident left him a quadriplegic. He has since directed his first feature film, the award-winning documentary Carts of Darkness. Siple joins the PUSH! creative team as media designer.

Portrait of Ping ChongPing Chong is an internationally acclaimed theatre director, playwright, video and installation artist, and a seminal figure in the interdisciplinary theater community. His work has been presented at major festivals and theatres around the world. Among his many honors and awards, he has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, two BESSIE awards and two OBIE awards, including one for sustained Achievement in 2000, and the USA Artist Fellowship. He is the recipient of a 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.

Headshot of Sara ZatzSara Zatz is the Associate Director of Ping Chong + Company where she oversees the Undesirable Elements series of interview-based theatre project exploring issues of culture and identity in specific communities. She has co-created numerous works in the series, exploring the experiences of immigrants and refugees, transgender youth of colour, and survivors of child sexual abuse. She has led workshops on community-engaged theatre at universities, training institutes, and conferences around the United States.

The athletes:

Victoria Nolan rowing.Victoria Nolan was named to the Canadian National Adaptive Rowing Team in 2007 and began travelling the world, winning medals, breaking records and within a year was competing at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Nicknamed “The Metronome” Nolan and her rowing crew won gold at the World Rowing Championships in New Zealand in 2010.

Paul Rosen standing in front of a goalie net in gear.Paul Rosen began playing sledge hockey for the Canadian National Team within one year of having his leg amputated. At age 40, he became the oldest rookie in the history of the game, playing goalie for Canada at the 2002 Paralympic Games. After winning a gold medal with a shutout in the 2006 Paralympics, Rosen was ranked the number one sledge hockey goaltender in the world.

Sarai Demers skiing downhill.Sarai Demers is a 35-year old aspiring Paralympian of French and Trinidadian descent. She is a competitive skier with Alpine Ontario and has competed nationally at the Canada Games. A strong disability rights advocate, she is the President of the Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario.

Martha Sandoval-GustafsonMartha Sandoval-Gustafson has competed at the Paralympics for over three decades and has represented both Canada and Mexico, her birthplace. A multi-talented athlete, Gustafson holds gold, silver and bronze medals in Athletics for both shot put and discus and has also competed at an elite level in rugby and swimming. She holds the Canadian F52 record for shot put.

Jody Schloss on horseback and uniformJody Schloss is a Grade 1 Para-Equestrian who quickly gained international recognition when she broke into the Para-dressage circuit in her late 20’s. She lost the ability to walk and sustained a brain in jury in a car accident that left Schloss in a 3-month long coma. She has since become a fierce competitor and made her Paralympic debut in London, 2012.

Jenna Lambert swimming with goggles and hair cap.Jenna Lambert became the first woman with a disability to swim across Lake Ontario – at age 15. Unable to use her legs due to cerebral palsy, Lambert completed the 32-hour marathon swim using only her arms. In 2009, Lambert competed in an ultra triathlon that took more than 50 hours to complete; she became first person with a disability to complete the event. Lambert competed for Canada at the 2011 Guadalajara Parapan Am Games.

Be on the lookout for more information on PUSH! and interviews with each of the athletes on Facebook!

PUSH! is generously supported by the Toronto Arts Council and Ryerson University.

Toronto Arts CouncilRyerson University