PUSH Physical Theatre Collaborates with RIT

PUSH Physical Theatre. Provided photo.
Story Highlights: 
  • PUSH Physical Theatre was founded in Rochester in 2000.
  • RIT/NTID Theater students are involved in the performance.
  • Admission is free.
  • A collaboration began with RIT's College of Imaging Arts & Sciences to explore the interplay between virtual and physical reality and communication.
  • Avi Pryntz-Nadworny, who performed with Cirque du Soleil, is a cast member.

PUSH Physical Theatre and RIT/NTID theater students will debut two works in progress – “Red Ball” and “Giovanni” – from a new project called PUSHinterPLAY of Art, Culture and Technology at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 in the Robert F. Panara Theatre.

The program will also include several PUSH audience favorites, including “Natural World,” “Aviation” and “Web,” from the company’s highly successful Rochester Fringe Festival performances. Admission is free.

PUSHinterPLAY is funded by a $28,030 grant from the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation through its program supporting projects that integrate arts and culture with technology.

In October, PUSH began collaborating with RIT/NTID students and RIT 3-D Digital Design Professor Marla Schweppe from RIT’s College of Imaging Arts & Sciences to explore the interplay between virtual and physical reality and communication.

“PUSH is always rolling new techniques into our hybrid art form, so incorporating technology we’ve never used before – like iPads and 3-D projection – wasn’t a foreign idea,” explains PUSH co-founder and artistic director, Darren Stevenson.  “The challenge, though, is to make the technology a part of the art – to inspire our work or to better tell a story – instead of being a gimmick.”

“Red Ball” was inspired by the use of iPads and other digital devices to create on-stage adventures for a red ball. The experimental, conceptual piece is also humorous and entertaining. “Giovanni” – inspired by Tomie dePaola’s children’s book, “The Clown of God” – is the touching French legend of an orphan and once-famous juggler who gives his life to bring smiles to a statue of Mary and baby Jesus at Christmas time. Using 3-D projections onto scrims as well as performers, the piece creates new stage magic: slow-motion juggling. “Giovanni” will be accompanied by both spoken and signed narration.

PUSH will also perform excerpts of the work at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters in New York City in January.

About PUSH Physical Theatre: Founded in Rochester, N.Y. in 2000 by husband-and-wife team Darren and Heather Stevenson, PUSH represents the couple’s desire to “push” the boundaries of conventional theatre. The current company also features veteran member Jonathan Lowery, former Cirque du Soleil performer Avi Pryntz-Nadworny, and Rochester Parkour member Andrew Salmon. In addition to a busy schedule of concert, event and arts-in-education performances, the company has toured the U.S., England and Malta, and has been profiled on PBS and NPR.  In 2009, they received both the Anton Germano Dance Award and the Performing Artist of the Year Award from the Arts & Cultural Council of Greater Rochester.

PUSH's repeated sold-out performances at Geva Theatre Center have helped to establish them as masters of physical storytelling. Visit www.pushtheatre.org for more information.

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