Proctors has been looking for a show that would appeal to a younger demographic, maybe bring some people to the theater for the first time.
Kathy Jarvis, Proctors marketing director, thinks 4ISH is that show.
`4ISH` is a mix of break dancing, hip-hop, extreme sports, inline skating and video clips put on by a multi-cultural ensemble from Holland called ISH. It will take the Mainstage at Proctors on Friday, Feb. 22, at 8 p.m.
`It’s different, and that’s exactly the reason that we brought it,` Jarvis said. `We’re trying to cultivate the next generation. We rarely have the opportunity to bring a show like this to the marketplace here.`
Of course, describing such a show to that next generation is no easy task. It’s not a traditional play, musical or concert. Jarvis compared it to when the show `Stomp` was first gaining popularity.
`People are making rhythm with cigarette lighters, making rhythm with trash cans?` she said. `It’s tough to explain. That’s the challenge that we have. Certainly in our ads we are saying, ‘What is 4ISH?’ It’s not quite theater; it’s not quite sports. It’s dancing and hip-hop and skating. It’s beat box.`
Marco Gerris, who founded ISH in 1999 when he was 23 years old, offered his own take on the show in an e-mail that he squeezed in between stops on the group’s U.S. tour, which kicked off Jan. 28 in Cleveland.
`It’s a very energetic show, with a lot of everything,` Gerris wrote. `It’s a group of friends who show the audience our lifestyle with a lot of humor, but also a lot of talent. We show that the street skills can be art, too.`
Gerris was one of the youngest theatrical producers in the Netherlands when he put ISH together. The name was derived from the suffix `ish,` which has no specific definition, not unlike the mash of disciplines ISH’s performances showcase. Gerris came up with the idea for the show when he realized street skills had never really been seen in the theater. Gerris’ background includes acting and competing on the freestyle dance/skate circuit, and he filled the roster of `4ISH` with similarly skilled performers.
Ken Srisangkhan of Thailand, for example, dances and skates and counts martial arts and magic among his other interests. Micka Karlsson is a former performer with the Norholms Youth Circus, where her specialty was air (trapeze and rope) and group acrobatics (human pyramids). Melissa Elberger of Switzerland is known for her break dancing and acrobatics.
People who attend the show at Proctors can show off their own street skills. The theater will host a dance contest beforehand, and it will give out prizes and gift certificates.
`We want to make it a festive atmosphere for the kids and get kids who have never been here,` Jarvis said.
That’s not to say the older generation is being excluded. Jarvis encouraged parents and grandparents to come out for the show, too.
Gerris noted `4ISH` has been a hit among all ages at paid performances and at free shows the ensemble has put on at schools.
`The audience reaction is fantastic,` he said. `The crowd goes wild and gives a lot of respect. People compare it with the rush of a video clip from MTV.`
Jarvis hopes the crowd that comes to Proctors will enjoy the show enough to check out other offerings at the theater in the weeks and months to come.
`We hope we get the younger generation and get them to live performances,` she said.
Jarvis is looking forward to seeing `4ISH` in person for the first time herself.
`I am intrigued by it,` she said. It’s a great show.`
Tickets are $35, $30, $25 and $20 and are available online at www.proctors.org or through the Proctors box office.“