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Innovative summer theatre is back in Kingston for a fifth season

Something I look forward to every summer is The Kick & Push Festival that always offers interesting alternatives in terms of summer theatre fare.  Work on this Festival first started in 2014 when City staff reached out to local theatre artists to see if they could come up with something that would help animate the Grand Theatre during the summer months while also attracting artists and audiences by offering something uniquely different.

Kingston has always been a theatre city and the Kingston Culture Plan also identified that the City of Kingston was well positioned to facilitate this kind of collaboration by working with community partners to offer a high quality product that would animate the Grand Theatre but also other non-traditional venues across the city. Discussions with various community partners began in 2014 and the first Kick & Push Festival was presented in 2015. 

Since then, the Festival has featured 25 productions presented at the Grand Theatre as well as throughout the community. The Festival has focused on delivering high-quality, professional programming created by artists working in Kingston as well as elsewhere across Canada and the result has been the creation of a shared opportunity to push the bounds in terms of content and presentation.

The Festival has also included professional development opportunities for theatre artists of different ages and abilities and it has helped to foster the creation of new works that have gone on to be seen in other cities like Toronto and Bangkok!  The Festival also provides regular employment for students and emerging professionals and it has also helped to develop the next generation of theatre artists by offering an annual theatre camp for young people based at the Grand Theatre.

This year’s Festival features another great lineup of eight shows highlighting some of the most innovative, entertaining and boundary-breaking experiential theatre from across Canada.  The Festival runs from July 18 to August 11 and it also happens in tandem with Theatre Kingston's Storefront Fringe that features 18 production companies from Kingston, from other parts of Canada, the United States and beyond.

Liam Karry, the Artistic Producer of the Festival, describes the experience this way, which I appreciate, “At the heart of this Festival is the belief that theatre should bring people together, offer surprising new experiences and, above all, be fun.  Our 2019 season brings music, magic and puppetry to Kingston's downtown, including two compelling indigenous narratives, curated for us by Anishinaabe artist, Waawaate Fobister. A Kick & Push Festival ticket is a passport into the imagination of Canada's most acclaimed cultural innovators. I promise you will never forget what you discover there.”

You might also be interested to know the origins of the name of the Festival, which is deeply rooted in local history.  Back in 2014 everyone involved in developing the Festival wanted to come up with a name that was provocative but also unique to Kingston.  Many ideas got tossed around at the time but the group finally decided on The Kick & Push Festival because that was the nickname given to the former Kingston and Pembroke Railway, which may be familiar to people today because of the K & P Trail that follows the old railway line.  In its day, the “Kick & Push” Railway ran 180 kilometres from Kingston to Renfrew and offered an abundance of opportunities for entrepreneurs in the late 1880s. Over on hundred years later, the Kick & Push Festival works to provide an abundance of opportunities for artists and audiences alike to be transported in a different way.

Historic Image of Kick and Push












Kingston - Turning of the First Sod of the Kingston and Pembroke Railway, Frederic Marlett Bell-Smith,1879. Art Collection Society of Kingston, City of Kingston Civic Collection.

Details about the Kick & Push Festival can be found online here and tickets for the Festival and for the Storefront Fringe can be purchased online through the Grand Theatre website.

Colin Wiginton
Colin Wiginton
Cultural director
Find out more about Colin.