Blackfriars presents world premiere of bar-raising work
Rochester, NY – The five members of Rochester’s award-winning PUSH Physical Theatre are hard at work in their South Wedge studio preparing for the world premiere of PUSH Physical Theatre’s Jekyll & Hyde, opening at Blackfriars Theatre (795 E. Main St.) on Friday, January 29, 2016 at 8 p.m. through Sunday, February 14 at 2 p.m.
“Yeah, we’re throwing each other around at an alarming rate,” jokes PUSH Co-Founder/Co-Director Darren Stevenson, referring to the company’s creative process, which is rooted in long hours of physical improvisation – in this case, of perhaps a more violent nature than usual. “We’re also rehearsing actual speaking lines for the first time ever, which is almost as painful.”
Based on Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella, (The) Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, PUSH’s third and latest long-form work examines the struggle between good and evil within one man while exploring the dark side within each of us. That seems to be a recurring theme for PUSH, given its 2009 production of Dracula at Geva Theatre Center.
“Darren grew up as a pastor’s kid in England, and church was a big part of my upbringing here in America. Good and evil were clearly defined and life issues were mostly presented as black or white. Maybe for that reason, we’ve become interested in the gray area, and what that even means,” theorizes wife and PUSH Co-Founder/Co-Director Heather Stevenson. “Most of PUSH’s work asks important questions to which there are no easy answers, and this is no exception.”
In order to bring the classic story to stage in PUSH’s own unique way, the company once more collaborated with Dracula script writer, Danny Hoskins, now Artistic & Managing Director of Blackfriars Theatre. Blackfriars is presenting the show as part of its 2015/16 regular season, with additional support by Nocon & Associates, an Ameriprise Private Wealth Advisory Practice.
“PUSH performers consistently challenge themselves, their collaborators and their audiences to expect more from traditional theatre experiences, and with Jekyll & Hyde, they’ve raised the bar yet again,” says Hoskins. “I’m thrilled to share PUSH’s dynamic storytelling and artistry with Blackfriars’ audiences and the Rochester community.”
Jekyll & Hyde will also incorporate the illusion-creating skills of longtime PUSH Lighting Designer Toni Elderkin and Sound and Video Designer Dan Roach. Three-dimensional video projection especially plays a large part in the production, for which a national tour is also in the works.
PUSH Physical Theatre’s Jekyll & Hyde runs for 11 performances: Friday, Jan. 29 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 30 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. (Sunday Salon, show followed by talkback with PUSH); Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 6 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 7 at 2 p.m.; Thursday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 14 (sold out) at 2 p.m. Tickets begin at $31.50 ($15 students/$3 off for seniors) at blackfriars.org or (585) 454-1260.
More about PUSH: PUSH Physical Theatre was founded in Rochester, NY in 2000 by husband-and-wife team, Darren and Heather Stevenson, with a mission to push the boundaries of conventional theatre. For 15 years, this talented group of performers has been inspiring awe and igniting emotion with physical illusions and gravity-defying, dance-infused, acrobatic high jinx. The current company also features veteran PUSHer Jonathan Lowery, former Cirque du Soleil performer Avi Pryntz-Nadworny, and Fulbright scholar and dancer Katherine Marino. In addition to a busy touring schedule that continues to take them all over the U.S. and the world, these masters of physical storytelling were finalists on truTV’s Fake Off in 2014 (Season One). They are also very involved in arts-in-education programs – often working with at-risk children – and run their own PUSH Pins Summer Camp, Teen Mentorship Project, and Summer Intensive, which attracts adult students from all over the world. In 2009, Darren and Heather received the Performing Artist of the Year Award from the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, as well as the Anton Germano Dance Award. The following year, they were invited to speak about PUSH’s unique artistic process at TEDx Rochester. PUSH has been profiled on PBS and NPR, and is represented by Robin Klinger Entertainment. More information is available at www.pushtheatre.org.
More about Blackfriars Theatre: Now in its 66th season of providing quality theatrical entertainment to the Greater Rochester area, Blackfriars Theatre is a mid-sized professional theatre mounting seven productions each year (six per regular September-through-May season plus one summer show). Its mission is to provide the best possible showcase for actors, theater artists and technicians who have chosen to make Rochester their home. Many of its family have moved on to acting and technical roles in regional theatre, Broadway, movies and television – a testament to the training Blackfriars provides. More information is available at blackfriars.org.