Darren Stevenson founded PUSH Physical Theatre with partner and collaborator, Heather Stevenson, in 2000 out of a desire to push the boundaries of conventional theatre.
Born and raised in England, after receiving a degree in Graphic Design, Darren moved to The United States in 1992 to study theatre, mime and dance at The Center in St. Louis, MO. Upon Graduation he co-created International Expression with his partner and wife Heather Stevenson. During the early part of their career they toured the US and England as well as continuing studies with Several Dancers Core in Atlanta, Pilobolus collaborator; Bill Wade in Cleveland and The Goldston & Johnson School for Mimes at Kenyon College.
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, 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 Stevenson’s 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, PUSH runs popular after-school and Teen mentorship programs. Darren runs an annual Summer Intensive for adults that attracts students from all over the world as well as a year-long trainee program for PUSH performers in the making.
With PUSH, Darren has created work for Cleveland Museum of Art and the Corning Museum of Glass. He has 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, he and Heather co-created created -abled, an exploration of addiction using medical equipment such as crutches and walkers, with input from both able 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.
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 and in 2010 they were invited to speak about PUSH’s unique artistic process at TEDx.
Darren currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Rochester Fringe Festival and is an adjunct lecturer for the University of Rochester. He is also developing Arc of Ages, a compelling and passionate production that will encourage the community conversations and mutual understanding that are so very much needed in today’s global society.