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PushPush Arts: The thing about PushPush Arts is, they just go for it.





The thing about PushPush Arts is, they just go for it.


PushPush co-director Shelby Hofer and I worked together through the fall and winter of 2020/2021 on a script she’d been writing for some time. We met every few weeks or so, Shelby working on her feet, while I (masked and distanced) took notes. In between sessions, we’d do script work based on what we’d learned from the active work, editing out what was extraneous and figuring out what was missing. Then Shelby would write, I’d give her feedback, we’d refine, and in the next in-person session, we’d try the new and revised material on its feet. Shelby was bringing in sometimes wildly surprising props, many of which she used as puppets. We created a prologue, a four-minute video.


In January ‘21, Shelby decided that she was ready to commit to a production. This was the time of mad scrambling for vaccine appointments, when theatres were closed, and we were all staying six feet apart. We were still developing elements of the play and we had no clue how this interactive piece could be safely performed for, and experienced by, a live audience. During one conversation when we were imagining ways that anything could be successfully presented live during a pandemic, I told her I’d been thinking about the medieval pageant wagons.


“I’m envisioning the development of modern morality plays for the COVID era,” I brainstormed. “They even wore masks to perform—that could be adapted, masks could be incorporated for both protection and expression—a style thing.”

“Pageant wagons…” Shelby mused. “You know, Tim and I have been thinking about getting a camper…”


Next conversation:


“Bought a camper.”


And so, we had the basis of a set. And with that, we could begin to build the physical world of the play. We didn’t have a title yet, but eventually Shelby decided on one that was an apt description of both the play and the production. Not only was HIGH RISK, BABY! a brave, bold (and hilarious) “autobiofictional” revelation of a deeply personal journey, but PushPush Arts produced it outside, adjacent to the busiest airport in the world, during a pandemic. And it worked.


If you’ve got a great concept, but you haven’t yet figured out how to make it happen, a little PushPush could help.


ELLEN MCQUEEN

actor/director/writer, began to embrace a new field of work during the pandemic: creative editing. She is currently working with three playwrights and a novelist to help them clarify and shape their stories. It’s giving her a contact high. Website coming soon.


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