Powerful • Provoking • PUSH

Intense athleticism, gravity-defying acrobatics, and soulful artistry are the trademarks of award-winning, genre-defining 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 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.

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 its own summer day camp for kids, teen training, and summer intensive for adult students from all over the world.


The PUSHers

PUSH Physical Theatre began with a belief that each performer should bring his or her unique life experiences to the stage. PUSH performers they incorporate any movement that speaks to the audience. If the perfect method doesn’t exist, they invent it.

Darren & Heather Stevenson (founding artistic directors/PUSHers) Born and raised in England, Darren met New Jersey native Heather during their mutual studies at The Center in St. Louis. Their shared love of theatre and performing planted the seeds for their relationship and eventual collaboration.

After completing their studies at The Goldston & Johnson School for Mimes and touring together, the couple founded the Studio School of the Arts in Atlanta, Georgia. They relocated to Rochester, NY with their two children in 2000 and created PUSH Physical Theatre, growing it over the next 18 years into the international touring company that it is today.

Darren and Heather have created many new works for PUSH, including full-length adaptations of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll & Hyde. Shorter works include “Flight 1549,” set to the audiotape of the miraculous airplane landing in the Hudson River; and “-abled,” an exploration of addiction. Heather’s touching look at the elderly in “The Visit” is a thought-provoking counterpoint to Darren’s powerful take on war in “The Soldier.” A grant from the Farash Foundation enabled collaboration with RIT’s National Institute for the Deaf to create “Red Ball,” a study of the real and virtual worlds using iPad technology. They created Arc of Ages, a full-length exploration of Jewish history and culture, which featured an unprecedented 23 physical theatre performers trained by PUSH.

The Stevensons received the 2009 Performing Artist of the Year Award from the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, as well as the Community of Color/Anton Germano Dance Award. Darren was awarded the University of Rochester’s Lillian Fairchild Award in 2017 for PUSH’s collaborative work on a multi-media opera that brought together U.S. and Mexican artists for premieres in both countries for the second time. Cross-genre collaborations with other world-renowned artists are becoming more and more frequent for the genre-defining company, such as its recent partnerships with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Ying Quartet.

The Stevensons have also created a children’s education division called PUSH Pins and are sought-after teaching artists, developing programs that help students connect with curriculum concepts, life skills, and social issues. They also run an annual summer intensive for adults that attracts students from all over the world.

Ashley Jones (PUSHer) is a physical performer, actor, and deviser. After earning his BA European Theatre Arts from Rose Bruford College, London and training in Physical Theatre at Academia Teatro Dimitri in Switzerland, he went on to train with Phillipe Gaulier and Angela De Castro in theatrical clowning, which has formed a large part of his solo practice. As a physical performer, Ashley has worked and trained with UK-based theatre companies Gecko Physical Theatre, Nonsuch Theatre, and Frantic Assembly. His recent credits include: The Party’s Over (2017), Eclipse (2017), The Russian Play (2017) and Into the Clouds (2018). As Artistic Director of Theatre Kinaesthetic, Ashley continues to develop and produce his own work exploring physical modalities within ensemble and devised performance. His credits with Theatre KinAesthetic include Rite of Passage (2015, 2016).

Lianne Hart (PUSHer), originally from Rochester, NY, received her training from Columbia College Chicago, graduating cum laude with a BA in Dance with a concentration in Choreography. Lianne has trained with various companies such as Giordano Dance Chicago, Japan Dance Now, Lucky Plush Productions, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, The Seldoms, Autumn Eckman, Randy Duncan, Reggie Wilson, and Peter Carpenter. Her choreographic work, “Wishful Thinking 2.0: An Informal Fallacy,” was selected to be a part of the Going Dutch Festival in Chicago in 2013. Lianne also premiered a solo piece, “#HerToo,” at SUNY Geneseo’s Dance Ensemble 50th Anniversary performance.


Mission Statement

PUSH Physical Theatre creates and performs physical stories that inspire change. PUSH teaches lessons for life by empowering learners of all ages to use physical theatre to tell their own stories.


Board of Directors

Recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2009, PUSH is served by a board of directors.

Larry Francer - (President) - Associate Director of Preservation, The Landmark Society of Western New York
Melissa Boyack - Marketing and Communications Manager, Trillium Health
Tyler Cassidy-Heacock – (Secretary) - Assistant Director of Development, Hochstein School of Music
Damon Diehl - Launch Team, Inc
David Hou - Boylan, Code Attorney At Law
Gerianne Puskas – Vice President - Vice President of Development and Marketing, Villa of Hope Youth and Family Services
Susan Rogers - (Treasurer) - Executive Vice President, WXXI Public Broadcasting
Darren Stevenson - PUSH CEO/Artistic Director
Heather Stevenson - PUSH Artistic Director


Advisory Board

Suzanne Gouvernet
Jack Kraushaar - Calatlyst Inc.
Donald G. Riling - Riling Leadership Resources
Gregory W. Smith - Jay Advertising