Kids’ show uses physical comedy to address language challenges
PLUS: PUSH Pins Performing Arts Camp & Teen Mentorship Project return
Rochester, NY – PUSH Pins – the children’s division of Rochester’s award-winning PUSH Physical Theatre – will present the world premiere of its first show specifically written for young people, Busy Bodies: Compound Words in Motion. The four performances June 9 – 11 at Blackfriars Theatre (795 E. Main St.) are: Friday, June 9 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, June 10 at 12 and 6 p.m.; and Sunday, June 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20, $15 for students and children, and are available in person at the theatre box office, online at blackfriars.org, or by phone at (585) 454-1260. The show is suggested for ages 3 and up.
Created by PUSH Co-Founder/Director and PUSH Pins Founder/Director Heather Stevenson, this physical comedy for kids is based on the inevitable confusion of connecting two words together to create another word. Some compound words – like “firefly” – are easy to understand, while others – “rat race,” for example – take a greater stretch of the imagination. Busy Bodies uses very few words, relying mostly on the movement, expression, energy and silliness of its PUSH Physical Theatre cast to convey a point: that language can be difficult but it’s okay to have fun with it.
The inspiration for the show is deeply personal for Stevenson. As a child with learning disabilities that included auditory processing disorder, dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, she struggled all through school, finding her calmest focus in the arts – especially dance and theatre.
“Many children do not learn best at a desk,” says Stevenson. “For example, although we often hear that ‘there’s no such thing as a stupid question,’ in reality, adults can express just the opposite when children ask for more information. One of my hopes with this show is that it will remind people that language can be difficult for children, and that – as mentors – we need to have patience and kindness. Also that movement can be a fun and effective way to teach!”
Two Busy Body Workshops are also available: Saturday, June 10 from 2 – 3 p.m. for ages 4 – 12; and Sunday, June 11 from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. for ages 7 and up. Space is limited to 25 students per workshop, with $10 pre-registration (at blackfriars.org) or $12 at the door. Taught by Stevenson and husband, PUSH Co-Founder/Director Darren Stevenson, workshop participants will have fun sampling the mime and movement techniques used in the show.
Kids will have another opportunity to play, learn, and express themselves through movement with two of PUSH Pins popular summer programs led by Heather Stevenson: PUSH Pins Physical Theatre Camp and PUSH Teen Mentorship Program. Both run Monday, July 10 – Friday, July 14 at First Presbyterian Church (25 Church St.) in Pittsford (14534). To find out more and/or register, call 585-278-0123, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit pushpinsforkids.org. Family discounts are available for both programs.
PUSH Pins Physical Theatre Camp: children ages 5-13 explore physical theatre, mime, modern dance, tae kwon do, parkour, balloon sculpting, drumming, and visual art with daily guest performers/instructors in addition to a team of professional and nurturing teaching artists that includes PUSH Physical Theatre performers. Kids will enjoy the beautiful outdoor grounds, healthy snacks, and closing Pizza Party, Camp Showcase & Dessert Reception.
PUSH Teen Mentorship Program: young people ages 14-18 volunteer as PUSH Pins Physical Theatre Camp junior counselors under the guidance of staff, with additional physical training after campers are dismissed each day. Includes post-camp review with Heather Stevenson, volunteer service-hours certificate, and future employment/volunteer references.
“I love touring the world with PUSH, but working with Rochester’s young people and seeing them respond so positively to what we do is my most rewarding job,” adds Stevenson.
Prior to PUSH’s summer programs for kids, Darren Stevenson will lead the company’s annual, two-week Summer Intensive for actors, dancers, mimes and movers ages 18 and over on June 18 – July 1 at their Rochester rehearsal studio. Past intensives have drawn students from Venezuela, Hong Kong, Jordan, the Dominican Republic, Greece and South Africa. For more information and/or registration, visit PUSH Summer Intensive.
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 17 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), during which judge/Glee star Harry Shum, Jr. said: “You guys are superhuman!” 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 Training, and Summer Intensive for adult students from all over the world. Full-length works include PUSH’s Jekyll & Hyde, Dracula, Arc of Ages, as well as 2013’s choreography for composer Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated opera, Comala. In 2016, Zohn-Muldoon, fellow Eastman School of Music faculty and composer Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, PUSH, and many other Mexican and U.S. artists collaborated on a multi-media opera called Don’t Blame Anyone (No Se Culpe), for which they received the Lillian Fairchild Memorial Award from the University of Rochester. Many shorter works include “Red Ball,” a study of interplay between the real and virtual worlds using iPad technology, created in collaboration with RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Darren and Heather are recipients of both the Anton Germano Dance Award and the Performing Artist of the Year Award from the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, and have spoken about their 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 pushtheatre.org.