The Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department‘s 2020-2021 Mainstage Season continues April 14 through 17 with Tales of Berlin, a live, site-specific, immersive theatrical event that takes the audience on a journey through WWII Berlin – the music, the dance, and the stories that set the stage for the musical Cabaret, which will be presented in spring 2022. In this promenade performance, every audience member’s experience will be unique, as viewers move in small groups through the space while actors perform stories, songs, and musical numbers exploring themes of power, leadership and personal responsibility, then and now.
Tales of Berlin plays in the Courtyard Theatre of the Getz Theatre Center of Columbia College, located at 72 E. 11th St. in Chicago’s South Loop. The performance can also be accessed online. For more information and reservations for this FREE performance event, please click here.
Tales of Berlin is created by a student ensemble under the guidance of faculty director Carin Silkaitis and faculty devising consultant Jesse Carlo. In this socially distanced presentation, audience members will move through the space in small groups and will remain fully masked throughout the process, ensuring a safe experience for audience, performers, and production staff. The space has an enhanced air filtration system complete with UVGI technology.
“Tales of Berlin is . . . designed to spark conversation,” says director Carin Silkaitis, the Allen and Lynn Chair of Theatre at Columbia College. “It was born out of necessity. We were a company of artists in a pandemic who were working together on a production of Cabaret. That production was [postponed], because singing and dancing in-person wasn’t safe. We needed to pivot, so we made the decision to devise a piece of live theatre based on the characters from Cabaret, still dealing with some of the same themes: fascism, anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, queerness, gender identity, relationships, love, and sex.”
Adds Silkaitis: “[The all-student] cast wrote the show. Jesse Carlo . . . and I merely shaped the material as we witnessed the awesome bravery of this group of individuals who put themselves into this work – who wanted to stand up and hold the mirror up to those around them — because it’s time we take a hard look at ourselves, our institutions, what we continue to defend and uphold. . . . This [show] evolved through Moment Work — Tectonic Theatre Project’s wonderful technique where all artists build ‘moments’ or individual, self-contained theatrical units. . . . It was one of the most highly collaborative processes I have ever been a part of.”
Tales of Berlin was created with COVID-19 safety at the heart of the planning. Faculty and staff were trained in COVID-Compliance, performers were tested daily once the production moved from Zoom to an in-person experience, and all members of the cast and crew participated in daily COVID screenings and temperature checks as they entered and exited the building. The Theatre Department has consulted with epidemiologists from Rush University Medical Center throughout this academic year in order to provide students the most robust education possible during this time and keep them safe while doing so.
Performances of Tales of Berlin are free, but advance registration is required. Performance times are:
Wednesday, April 14 – 7:30 PM and 8:45 PM (previews)
Thursday, April 15 – 7:30 PM and 8:45 PM
Friday, April 16 – 7:30 PM and 8:45 PM
Saturday, April 17 – 2 PM, 3:45 PM, 7:30 PM, and 8:45 PM
For reservations, please click here.