The second annual Physical Festival Chicago takes place July 7-12, with workshops at the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department in the city’s South Loop and performances at Links Hall at Constellation on Chicago’s north side. Under the leadership of co-Artistic Directors Marc Frost, a Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department faculty member, and Alice de Cunha, the festival seeks to introduce Chicago audiences to the best physical theatre companies from Chicago and beyond through performances, master classes, and a scratch night of new work. The festival features artists from Chicago; Washington, D.C.; and, from overseas, Spain, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.
Physical theatre pursues storytelling through primarily physical and visual means to create original and contemporary work. It includes a wide variety of styles, approaches and aesthetics, including clown, puppetry, mime, mask, dance-theater, vaudeville and circus, among others.
Workshops: The festival includes a series of workshops being held at Columbia College Chicago, 916 S. Wabash, Room 226, in Chicago’s South Loop. Workshops taught by the artists–all performers in the festival, representing companies from the U.S. and Europe–will be three hours long. The workshops include “The Universal Stage” with Single Shoe Productions (consisting of British, Portuguese, and American artists), focusing on non-verbal storytelling; “Walkabout Physical Training” with Chicago’s Walkabout Theater, including vigorous movement and chorus work; “Lateral Strategies” with the Spanish company DeCollage, geared towards opening up a space for creative collaboration; and “Space, Body and Imagination” with Washington, D.C.-based artist David Gaines, combining physical and improv exercises. The cost is $50 per workshop–or a $175 pass for all four workshops.
Performances: Among the troupes performing in Physical Festival Chicago is Chicago’s Walkabout Theater, whose co-artistic director, Thom Pasculli, teaches movement at the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department. Walkabout’s The Wild , previously seen at Steppenwolf Theatre in 2014, is a devised performance created using Walkabout’s model of laboratory theatre, a process of creating work that emphasizes the actor as author, develops a practice of actor training, and cultivates visceral experience. Beginning with the mythic figure of Dionysus and the work of playwright Charles Mee, the Walkabout ensemble gathered a collage of theatrical research including American and Bulgarian folk music, barbershop quartet standards, choreography from Bob Fosse and West African dance, pagan parade costumes, and text from Chekhov and Euripides. Using these sources, ensemble improvisations, and original work by the actors, The Wild was created as an exploration of savagery, civilization, worship, boundaries, tearing something apart and attempting to put it back together again.
Also being performed are:
A Little Business at The Big Top, by David Gaines from Washington, D.C.;
Crazy Glue, by Single Shoe Productions, a joint venture of British, Portuguese, and American artists; and–
Popol Is Gone, by the Spanish company DeCollage. All performances take place at Links Hall at Constellation, 3111 N. Western. Chicago. For tickets and more information, click here or call 773-281-0824. Tickets are $10-$12 per show or $35 for a festival pass.
Marc Frost and Alice da Cunha launched Physical Festival Chicago in 2014 inspired by their experience as students at the London International School for the Performing Arts (LISPA), which is the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department’s partner institution for a new MFA in European Devised Performance Practice beginning in Fall 2016. The new MFA–the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department’s first-ever graduate program and the only degree of its kind in the U.S.–will offer students a chance to study in three great urban centers of innovative theatrical performance: Berlin, London, and Chicago. For more information on the MFA in European Devised Performance Practice, please contact Michael Brown by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.