PUSH Physical Theatre's Trunk Show Will Be Presented as Part of Virtual Rochester Fringe

PUSH Physical Theatre's Trunk Show will be available on demand throughout the 12-day festival (September 15-26).

By: Sep. 01, 2020
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PUSH Physical Theatre's Trunk Show Will Be Presented as Part of Virtual Rochester Fringe

Rochester's internationally renowned PUSH Physical Theatre hasn't missed performing in a Rochester Fringe since the festival debuted in 2012, and this year's virtual Fringe is no exception. PUSH Physical Theatre's Trunk Show will be available on demand throughout the 12-day festival (September 15-26); tickets are $10 and available at rochesterfringe.com.

The show's official description is as follows: "As you know, all the members of award-winning PUSH Physical Theatre live together in a small travel trunk. Their stage manager folds them carefully inside after each performance and sits on the lid until the next show. They've been in there for a while now and it's time for a break-out. Created especially for the small screen, witness original stories, funny, intimate, heart-breaking and universal, caught and released into the world with PUSH's signature athleticism and no-holds-barred physicality."

What the description leaves out is just as important as what it includes. Almost the entire show was shot during the COVID-19 shut-down and finding ways to do so safely necessitated some major creativity on the company's part. The only portion that features an actual audience is from a pre-COVID-19 recording, and its inclusion draws a powerful parallel between the current and former states of the performing arts.

"We quarantined for weeks before rehearsing and shooting together, and did a lot of both outdoors," explains Darren Stevenson, who founded and directs the 20-year-old company with fellow performer and wife, Heather Stevenson. "We're physical performers - yes - but we're storytellers as well, so we had to learn very quickly how to think like filmmakers in order to make this virtual show work."

In addition to a comic opening by the Stevensons, five varied pieces, and interviews with each PUSH performer including newbie Sydney Burrows, the 45-minute show includes the world premiere of "RACE or 'You've Seen Me Before.'" Created just weeks ago by Darren Stevenson, company member Ashley Jones, and guest artist Hassiem Muhammad from New York City, the work addresses racism in a very visceral way. It was made possible in part by an ongoing fundraiser called Support the PUSH Forward Project, which supports PUSH's mission to create and perform stories that inspire change.

"I can't speak for all black people, but...odds are I'm not the only black guy who feels like I'm walking through this world with a burden," says Muhammad in his on-screen introduction to the piece. "Odds are I'm not the only black person who feels like I'm in a race that I never signed up for."

About PUSH Physical Theatre: Founded in Rochester, NY in 2000 by husband-and-wife team, Darren and Heather Stevenson, out of a desire to "push" the boundaries of conventional theatre, PUSH Physical Theatre has since earned an international reputation as one of the U.S.'s leading physical theatre companies.

Recently featured in acclaimed collaborations with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Ying Quartet, and Pulitzer Prize-nominated composer Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon's two multi-media operas (Comala and No Se Culpe with fellow composer Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez), PUSH has also produced its own full-length works including DRACULA, Jekyll & Hyde, and Arc of Ages. Additionally, its wide-ranging repertory includes many shorter works such as "Red Ball," a hilarious take on the interplay between the real and virtual worlds using iPad technology.

Known for intense athleticism, gravity-defying acrobatics, and soulful artistry, PUSH has been called "a perfect metaphor-in-motion" by CITY Newspaper and "a rare treat" by NY Theatre Guide. PUSH was a season finalist on TruTV's national series, Fake Off, a competition/reality show featuring what producers dubbed "the captivating art of 'faking'" - a mix of theatre, acrobatics, and illusion. Their performances caused judge and Glee star Harry Shum Jr. to exclaim: "You guys are superhuman!"

These masters of physical storytelling have received the Community of Color/Anton Germano Dance Award, the Performing Artist of the Year Award from the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, and the University of Rochester's Lillian Fairchild Award. In addition to a busy touring schedule, PUSH is passionate about arts-in-education programs and runs a summer intensive for adult students from all over the world.

Media please note: Additional high-resolution photos and broadcast-quality video are available, and interviews can be arranged. Reviewers: please request comp tickets at https://rochesterfringe.formstack.com/forms/press_comp_requests.


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