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Physical Festival Chicago Sets Celebration of Physical Theater Program


Physical Festival Chicago announced today the full program for its second annual celebration of this energetic, imaginative and boundary-breaking form of theater. The following companies and artists will participate in this week-long event to be held July 7-12: Single Shoe Productions (UK, Portugal & USA), Walkabout Theater Company (Chicago), DeCollage (Spain) and David Gaines (Washington DC). The Festival will also feature a Scratch Night, a preview of what's next in the physical theater scene, and four professional Master Classes with the visiting artists at Columbia College Chicago, 916 S. Wabash Ave. The performances will take place at Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago. Festival passes are $35 and tickets for individual shows are $10-$12; they can be purchased online at and or by calling Links Hall, 773-281-0824.

Alice da Cunha and Marc Frost launched the inaugural Physical Festival last year through the Artistic Associate program at Links Hall. The inspiration for the Festival drew upon their combined experience in London as physical theater students at the London International School for the Performing Arts (LISPA). Moving from London to Chicago, they were inspired to start a new festival to promote a more progressive, fresh and physical approach to theater-making in Chicago. The Festival very much follows in the tradition of the great European theater festivals such as the London International Mime Festival (LIMF) and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to name a few.

"Alice and I were pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the support the Festival received last year from the media, the public and Chicago's arts community. This year's program is far more focused but no less exciting. Each of one of these shows takes the concept of physical theater to the next level," said Frost.

"We are also beginning to establish partnerships with other institutions and groups, one of which is Columbia College Chicago. None of this would have been possible without the support of Links Hall's amazing team," added da Cunha.

Physical theater 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.

Physical Festival Chicago is partially supported by an Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.


Tuesday July 7

7 PM - Scratch Night

We give seven theater companies ten minutes to show what they are working on. Come take a look behind the curtain and witness what's next in Physical Theater.

Tuesday-Thursday July 7 - 9

9 PM - "Crazy Glue" by Single Shoe Productions (UK, Portugal & USA)

"Crazy Glue" follows the comedic roller coaster of a couple's romance as they move from the blossoming of first love through to the thornier terrain of married life. Inspired by the physical comedy of Buster Keaton and the madcap absurdity of Looney Tunes, Single Shoe Productions create a fusion of silent film nostalgia and cartoon antics. The captivating cast of two blend vocal sound effects, quirky humor and an evocative 1930's soundtrack to reveal the crazy, sticky, messy side of marriage.

Founded in 2011, London-based Single Shoe Productions combines theatre, circus, dance, and film into stories that are intercultural, inventive and playful. The company's first collaboration was the short film "Broken Encounter," now being distributed by App Media (QuakQuak). "Crazy Glue" premiered to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival in 2014. They are currently working on a new piece: "Death - A Comedy" (working title).

Wednesday-Thursday July 8 - 9

7 PM - "The Wild" by Walkabout Theater Company (Chicago)

Rhythmic, muscular, and full of risk, "The Wild" was created using Walkabout's model of laboratory theater, 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 Charles Mee, 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.

Since 1999 Walkabout Theater Company has performed and produced new site-specific and original work in Chicago, challenging traditional theatrical models of production, performance, narrative and story. Through active exploration of the theatrical form and the architecture in which theater is created, Walkabout seeks to deepen the connection between the artist and her community.

Friday-Sunday July 10 - 12

7 PM - "Popol Is Gone" by DeCollage (Spain)

This presentation is the culmination of the therapy between Dr Indre and her last and most exciting case: Popol. The patient has lived a long time in a dream, unable to organize his thoughts or memories. Recovery will only occur if the audience allows Popol to relive his journey: a journey through madness, revolution and solitude....The show is experienced as a living dialogue between the stage and the audience. Two performers, a pepper, torch, record player, glass of water and other simple objects animate and transform the story and the space. The show is performed in English, though in a few scenes the characters use Spanish to speak to each other; this introduces a new flavor to the play, and a layer of magic intimacy. Those moments are translated with a creative use of subtitles, projected on the set.

DeCollage was founded in 2004 by artistic director Juan Ayala. The company makes collaborative devised work that simply and skillfully combine the ingredients of music, mime, text, set and lighting to shape each production. Decollage brings together collaborators from different geographic and artistic origins; to date this includes actors born in Madrid, Paris and California, mime artists from Mexico and Uruguay, puppeteers from the Basque Country, musicians from Japan and Italy, and an opera singer from Belgium!

Friday-Sunday July 10 - 12

9 PM - "A Little Business at the Big Top" by David Gaines (Washington DC)

One actor creates - using only his body and the audience's imagination - the tent, the ring, the acts, the crowd: the pooper-scooper who dreams of the high wire ballerina, the brutal ringmaster, the fight, the thrilling escape across the high wire, the faithful dog, the monkey, and, of course, the clowns. A fast-paced circus comedy of danger and romance - like Popeye meets Chaplin in a Bugs Bunny cartoon!

David Gaines is a graduate of, and former teacher at, the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris. He is also a founding member of The Moving Picture Mime Show - a movement theatre company based in London that toured the world for 10 years. In addition to his own performances, he teaches acting at George Mason University (Fairfax), and works for Big Apple Circus' Clown Care Unit, as a clown in children's hospitals in DC and Baltimore. His two most recent solo performance pieces are: "A Little Business At the Big Top", and "7 (x 1) Samurai", which has toured from Vancouver to Tel Aviv, and won many awards.

Master Classes

During the day, the Festival will include Master Classes in various aspects of physical theater taught by the visiting artists on topics such as devising theater, object manipulation, mask, clown and mime. All the Master Classes will be held at Columbia College Chicago, 916 S. Wabash Ave. The lasses will be taught by the following groups: Single Shoe Productions (Tuesday, July 7th); Walkabout Theater Company (Wednesday, July 8th); and DeCollage (Thursday, July 9th and Friday, July 10th).

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