CHF Hosts 2014 Stages, Sights & Sounds with International Children's Theater & Authors, Now thru 5/24

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CHF Hosts 2014 Stages, Sights & Sounds with International Children's Theater & Authors, Now thru 5/24

The Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) celebrates 15 years of presenting international children's theater with the 2014 Stages, Sights & Sounds festival, today, May 6-24 in Chicago.

This year's Stages, Sights & Sounds will feature inaugural productions from Australia and Spain, including the quirky toy-centric Fluff from Sydney's Cre8ion, the climate change tale of The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer from Perth's The Last Great Hunt, and the object driven Animales from Madrid's El Retablo, featuring master puppeteer Pablo Vergne. The festival will also include the U.S. premiere of Kaguya: The Bamboo Princess and other Stories by returning puppet artist Nori Sawa (Japan/Czech Republic). Additionally, Stages, Sights & Sounds will introduce several new programs, including readings with children's book authors Timothy Basil Ering and Jon Scieszka, and the Chicago Puppetolio.

Tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for children (17 and under), and are on sale now at chicagohumanities.org/stages and via phone at 312-494-9509.

"This year's Stages, Sights & Sounds will be a 'festival of firsts,'" said Julia Mayer, CHF Assistant Director of Programming and Performance. "We're excited to present our first productions from Australia and Spain, as well as the U.S. premiere of Kaguya from returning favorite Nori Sawa. There are numerous ways to engage in the festival this year, including two new children's author events, and we're thrilled to offer these cultural opportunities to children and families in Chicago!"

For the first time, Stages, Sights & Sounds will host productions from Australia and Spain, featuring artists from Sydney's Cre8ion, Perth's The Last Great Hunt, and Madrid's El Retablo. Cre8ion, specializing in producing and touring theatrical shows and events of scale internationally, will present Fluff, a quirky celebration of lost toys. Created by company member Christine Johnston, Fluff tells the story of the Ginghams, a traveling trio who rescue long-lost misfit toys, with a mix of sound, story, and video. The Last Great Hunt is a collective of artists from Western Australia who create, produce, and tour new innovative theater. The company will present the sold-out production of The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer. Hailing from Spain, Pablo Vergne of El Retablo has been creating and performing for 25 years. A master puppeteer, Vergne will star in the festival's sold-out show for very young audiences (3+), Animales.

Festival favorite Nori Sawa will return with the U.S. premiere of Kaguya: The Bamboo Princess and other Stories. Born in Japan but now based in the Czech Republic, Sawa began his professional activities in Europe for the Cultural Ministry of the Japanese Government. He has performed and taught theater arts in more than 20 countries and was last seen in Chicago at Stages, Sights & Sounds in 2012. Sawa will debut his newest piece Kaguya, which depicts the tenth-century folktale of a Japanese princess through the use of puppets, masks, music, and physical theater. Sawa will also perform in the sold-out production of Fairy Tales.

In addition to international performances, the 2014 Stages, Sights & Sounds will offer several new programs. This year's festival will feature readings with two critically-acclaimed children's book authors: Timothy Basil Ering and Jon Scieszka. Best known as the illustrator of the Newbery Medal winner The Tale of Despereaux, Ering will read from his newest work--The Almost Fearless Hamilton Squidlegger, an endearing tale of a boy overcoming his bedtime fears with a little help from Dad--and create original illustrations. Scieszka, widely known for his book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, will read from his latest book Battle Bunny, a tongue-in-cheek "banal" children's book that has been rewritten by a scribbling child. This year's festival will also include the inaugural, sold-out Chicago Puppetolio, curated with Julia Miler (Manual Cinema; Nasty, Brutish and Short) and featuring Michael Montenegro, Blair Thomas, Cynthia Von Orthal, Sea Beast Puppet Co. and Karen Hoyer.

The 2014 Stages, Sights and Sounds festival marks the 15th year of presenting original performances from across the globe. Each year, CHF's international children's theater festival serves more than 7,000 people, including over 5,000 students and teachers in and around Chicago. This year's Stages, Sights & Sounds festival is the largest in CHF history, with more than 30 international and local artists offering 48 programs within a three-week period.

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