Ben Ross

Staff Writer

Tangled Arts + Disability presents PUSH! Real Athletes. Real Stories. Real Theatre, as part of Panamania. This production weaves together the personal stories of six elite parasport athletes, highlighting the courage, passion and determination it takes to succeed on the world stage.

The six performers/creators lead us on an autobiographical trip through the diverse challenges and circumstances they have overcome. They are the real deal  athletes and not trained actors   and this only works to the show’s advantage. Their winning personalities gel well, and there is charming and obvious camaraderie within the group.

Shameful anecdotes of rampant ableism remind us how much discrimination people with disabilities still face and the assumptions people make about them.

But it’s when recounting their athletic triumphs and defeats that the performers come most alive. They are all fierce athletes and their thrilling descriptions of competing at world-class levels have the audience riveted. 

PUSH! is an installment of Undesirable Elements, a series of theatrical productions curated by Ping Chong. This series examines the challenges facing various communities considered outside the mainstream, from the perspective of those inside it.

The continuation of this type of discussion is imperative. As one athlete says, “Exclusion, not inclusion, is still the norm.” There is still much work to be done, both within the world of sports and the larger arena of disability rights.

PUSH! ran at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts as part of Panamania and was presented by Tangled Arts + Disability and Ping Chong’s Undesirable Elements series.