Darren & Heather Stevenson
Darren & Heather Stevenson (founding directors/company PUSHers) Born and raised in England, Darren met Heather, a New Jersey native, during their mutual studies at The Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Their shared love of theater and performance planted the seeds for their relationship and eventual collaboration. During the early part of their career, they also studied with Several Dancers Core and The Goldston & Johnson School for Mimes at Kenyon College.
“Darren Stevenson has developed a physical ability that makes the art look easy,” commented Greg Goldston.
In 1997, the Stevensons and their two children moved to Atlanta, Georgia. There,they founded the Studio School of the Arts, a community training center that served hundreds of students each year. In 2000, they relocated to Rochester, where PUSH Physical Theatre was born.
Rather than relying on their trained movement vocabulary, Heather and Darren began with a belief that each performer should bring his or her unique life experiences to the stage. Although PUSH performers have a solid technical and acting base, they incorporate any movement that speaks to the audience. If the perfect method doesn’t exist, they invent it.
Under the Stevensons’ leadership, the company also developed arts-in-education programs for schools across the region. As a result, they were asked to serve on the Board of Directors for Young Audiences Rochester, for whom they are frequent performers and artists in residence. In addition, Heather directs a popular summer and after-school program for children called PUSH Pins, and Darren runs an annual Summer Intensive for adults that attracts students from all over the world.
Darren and Heather have created work for Cleveland Museum of Art and the Corning Museum of Glass. They performed for a Youth Jam audience of 5,000 at the Cleveland Convention Center and at Puerto Rico’s International Festival for Mime and Physical Theatre. Darren set his original work, “Samson,” on Inlet Dance Theatre; choreographed Jesus Christ Superstar and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown for Roberts Wesleyan College; and – thanks to a grant from the Arts and Cultural Council for Greater Rochester – collaborated with musician Glenn McClure and author Dava Sobel on “The Galileo Project.”
In February of 2008, The Stevensons created -abled, an exploration of addiction using medical equipment such as crutches and walkers, with input from both abled and disabled members of the Rochester community. It received its World Premiere at PUSH’s sold-out, two-week Rochester Theatrefest run at Geva Theatre Center.
“By far, their performances...were the highlight of the entire Theatrefest season – so much so that I invited them back,” says Geva Theatre Center Artistic Director Mark Cuddy. “They are a treasure.”
PUSH returned to Geva in 2009 with Time Remix, which included two more world premieres: “Time,” an exploration of athletes’ perception of time during competition and “Flight 1549,” set to the audio tape of that miraculous airplane landing in the Hudson River. The company also received the “Community of Color” Black History Month Anton Germano Dance Award that year (honoring advocates for an inclusive and diverse community who affect positive change) as a result of Darren’s performance of his original piece, “The Soldier,” on World Aids Day.
PUSH premiered its ground-breaking work, Dracula, with writer/actor Danny Hoskins at Geva Theatre Center in October of 2009 to enthusiastic acclaim, and in November, Darren and Heather received the 2009 Performing Artist of the Year Award from the Arts & Cultural Council of Greater Rochester.
Jonathan brings an expansive theatrical background to the stage. First trained in classical acting and movement, Jonathan combines the old with the new for a unique performance style. In addition to his B.A. in Theatre from Belhaven College, Jonathan has performed in Europe and Asia, appeared on national TV and has been an active participant in developing contemporary theatre companies and styles. He is originally from Jackson, MS.
Avi is from Rochester, NY. He studied acting, juggling, and gymnastics at the Ecole de Cirque de Québec in Québec, Canada and Scuola di Circo Flic, in Turin, Italy. Throughout his career he has performed all over America and Europe as a soloist and with: Cirque du Soleil, Cirq'ulation Locale, and Airplay Juggling.
|PUSH Physical Theatre - founded by Darren & Heather Stevenson - Rochester, New York - ChitChat@pushtheatre.org|