On Friday, December 14, 2012 PUSH Physical Theatre along with a group of NTID (National Technical Institute of the Deaf) theatre students debuted two works in progress at RIT’s Panara Theater. In addition to some audience favorites such as “Waterfall” and “Web,” the one-night-only event showcased two new pieces–“Red Ball” and “Giovanni”–from a new project called PUSHinterPLAY of Art, Culture and Technology. PUSH began work for this show back in October with help from not only NTID students but also Marla Schweppe, a professor of 3D digital design from RIT. The Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation supported the show by providing a $28,030 grant for PUSH’s show as part of a program that seeks to integrate arts & culture with contemporary technology.

In the case of “Red Ball,” the cast has integrated the use of iPads featuring a variety of interactive animations into a whimsical story about a troupe of bumbling, bickering characters and their escapades with a simple red ball. This piece is thrilling because, for much of the show, the ball only seems to exist on the screens of the iPads. It is pantomimed and invisible in the hands of the characters–until it materializes suddenly to the audience’s delight.

“Giovanni,” a touching story inspired by Tomie dePaola’s children’s book The Clown of God, uses projections on both hanging scrims and actors’ bodies to recount the life of an orphaned boy who rises to fame as a juggler. The adult actor depicting Giovanni is made to look like a small child by casting a tiny, concentrated shadow onto a scrim beside the massive, shadowy image of the actor portraying his father. The piece ends with the breathtaking effect of slow-motion juggling as Giovanni, now an old man whose fame has faded, performs with all of his heart for a statue of Mary and the Christ child on Christmas Eve–until his heart gives out.

While we were unable to attend the moving December performance (which was incredibly well-received from what we hear) we had the opportunity to view many highlights from PUSHinterPLAY at a pickup shoot yesterday. Darren and Heather wanted a promo put together specifically for the purpose of pitching the show to clients who might like to book the new show. This was Envision Production intern Jessica Thurston’s first day on set with us! She kept track of shots through day of multiple takes with the PUSH cast.

The reel probably won’t be posted on the blog since it “gives away” a lot of the best parts of the new show, but I hope this post gets you interested enough to check out a PUSH performance in the future!

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