Physical Theater Festival to Present 11th Annual Event in July

Join the event from July 13 to July 21.

By: Jun. 18, 2024
Physical Theater Festival to Present 11th Annual Event in July
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Physical Theater Festival Chicago, July 13 - 21, will present an Opening Day Celebration at Nichols Park on Saturday, July 13, from 1 - 7 p.m., as part of Chicago Park District's Night Out in the Parks series. This series of events is supported by the Mayor's Office and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. The Festival begins Saturday, July 13, with a full day of family-friendly outdoor shows and continues with virtual events on Sunday, July 14, and a variety of workshops available throughout the Festival. During July 18 - 21, international, national, and local performances, workshops and conversations will be held at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. and the Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio St. Tickets for the 2024 Physical Theater Festival are $20 (general) and $15 (industry/students/seniors/veterans) with Festival passes for all performances at $100 (general) and $85 (industry/students/seniors/veterans).

All workshops may be purchased individually for $55, or all 5 workshops can be purchased for $220 with a Workshop Pass. Details are available at Information, calendar of events, passes, and tickets are available at

Artists and companies scheduled to perform during the nine-day event include: Chicago-based artists Michael Montenegro, Marvin Tate and Theatre Y's Youth Ensemble; the award-winning Brazilian TV actor Clayton Nascimento; Mexican comedic star Chula the Clown; French and English physical whizz-bang company Voloz Collective; Boston's family-friendly performance group The Gottabees and Chicago's very own flying Chicago Boyz Acrobatic Team.

“I'm very excited with this year's performances. For the 11th edition we made sure to curate a program that embraces a variety of styles and types of entertainment,” said Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director Alice da Cunha. “We're bringing the best of what theater can do – clown, slapstick, social justice, virtuosity – from around the world and right here in Chicago. We can't wait to gather with the community for another year of the Physical Theater Festival Chicago.”  “We're moving into our second decade with joy and humility. The shows this year are incredible. The Physical Theater Festival has been working to bring so many of these artists to Chicago for years now – it's a dream come true,” added Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director Marc Frost. “We're excited to continue building partnerships with local organizations and to even expand into year-round programming. Our goal has always been to flood Chicago's stages with contemporary physical theater every summer and now we're doing it year-round.”


Saturday, July 13, 1 - 7 p.m.

Physical Theater Festival Chicago Family Event

Nichols Park, 1355 E. 53rd St.

Part of Chicago Park District's Night Out in the Parks series, supported by the Mayor's Office and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

Performances by local Chicago artists including puppetry from Theater Y's Youth Ensemble and acrobatics from the amazing Chicago Boyz Acrobatic Team. Pop-up performances from local artists Alexander D'Amazing, Stephanie Diaz and Gabriela Diaz, Eric Robinson and Shuo Wang.

Sunday, July 14

Virtual Offerings

The virtual schedule will be available on detailing events taking place on Facebook and Instagram including “The State of the Performing Arts 5.0” at 10 a.m. CT.

Monday, July 15 at 7 p.m.

Scratch Night

Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.

Scratch Night is a curated theater showcase of works-in-progress featuring innovative local theater makers. Scratch Night features six previews of original contemporary, visual and physical theater by different Chicago artists to foster their development. Produced by local curators, Scratch Night aims to provide a social space for community, conversation and collaboration.

Tuesday, July 16 and Wednesday, July 17 at 7 p.m.

Little Carl by Theatre Y Youth Ensemble (Chicago)

Directed by Michael Montenegro and Marvin Tate

Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.

Fresh off their acclaimed run at the Chicago International Puppetry Festival, Theatre Y's Youth Ensemble grapples with the difficult issue of gun violence by creating a dream play using puppets, masks and poetry, making beautiful imagery as an antidote to despair.


Wednesday, July 17

10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

The Clown and the Silence

Taught by Chula the Clown

Columbia College Chicago, 72 East 11th Street, Studio 202 

The workshop focuses on the potency of silence in clowning and the playful experience of the clown with its own poetic vision. This journey involves finding one's own voice, truth, timing and rhythm, allowing for a more meaningful connection with oneself and others.

Wednesday, July 17 at 9 p.m.

“The Cost of Living” by DV8 Physical Theatre (United Kingdom) Directed by Lloyd Newson

Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.

“The Cost of Living” is a British physical theatre dance film made in 2004 by DV8 Films Ltd. and Channel 4. It is an adaptation of a stage production by DV8 Physical Theatre. Directed by Lloyd Newson, the founder of DV8 Physical Theatre, the film uses dance, dialogue and physical theatre to tell the story of two street performers and their interaction with other performers in Cromer, a seaside resort town, at the end of the summer season. The film has won a number of awards at film festivals in various countries and was well received by critics when it premiered.


Thursday, July 18

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

CLOWN: Iconoclast, Subversive, Unpredictable, Innocent, Diabolical, Transcendent

Taught by Michael Montenegro

Where: Columbia College Chicago, 72 E. 11th Street, Studio 202

Clowning involves one's insecurities, vulnerabilities and fears. Those things that we try to hide from society. The Clown accidentally, or unknowingly, reveals these anxieties, and by so doing, releases us all from OUR anxieties. In the process, the Clown/actor experiences magically, the great, potent power embedded in these insecurities.

Montenegro loves exploring this mystery with a group of students and will bring his own insecurities, vulnerabilities and fears to find out how these hidden qualities transform into comedy.

Thursday, July 18 - Saturday, July 21 at 7 p.m.

Perhaps, Perhaps…Quizás by Chula the Clown (Mexico)

Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio St.

Perhaps, Perhaps…Quizás is a heart-wrenching as well as hilarious clown piece playing with the idea of loneliness and the wait and hope for Mr. Right. In an era where nothing seems to impress one another anymore, the longing for “real love” seems to be the burden of our time. Greta, our protagonist, is a lonely woman who rehearses once a week the arrival of the so-called ‘one.” Will she get lucky tonight? Perhaps, perhaps, quizás…

Thursday, July 18 - Saturday, July 20

Macacos by Clayton Nascimento (Brazil)

Performances on Thursday, at 7 p.m. and Friday, and Saturday, at 9 p.m. Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.

Macacos is a multi-award winning show about how racism and the erasure of black memories and ancestralities are rooted in Brazíl´s history. The performance follows a black man who searches for new spaces to occupy, facing and reflecting about the adjective “macaco,” a slur used against black people around the world.


Friday, July 19

10 a.m. - 1 p.m.


Taught by Clayton Nascimento

Columbia College Chicago, 72 E. 11th Street, Studio 202

The workshop aims to discuss the creative processes that have made reports, everyday situations and life stories of Black people become scenic material. The desire here, then, is not only to talk about this experience of the strong Black theatre movement in Brazil, but also to reflect the daily lives of Black people worldwide, and from that, to generate dramatic content interconnecting these experiences with Black people in North and South America. 

Friday, July 19 - Sunday, July 21

The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much by Voloz Collective (France/England) Performances on Thursday and Friday, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, at 3 p.m. Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.

Raucously funny and endlessly inventive, this Lecoq-trained theater company delights and stuns with live, original music and virtuosic acrobatics in this fast-paced whodunnit, The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much. Wes Anderson meets Hitchcock meets Spaghetti Western in this multi award-winning, intercontinental, inter-genre, cinematic caper of accusations, accidents and accents. Roger, a Frenchman in 1960's New York, has followed the same predictable routine for years, until a minor delay saves him from an explosion. Throwing his ordered world into chaos, Roger chases his would-be assassins around the globe.


Saturday, July 20

10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Cinematic Devising with Voloz Collective

Taught by Voloz Collective

Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.

Learn how to combine Lecoq-inspired physical theatre techniques with Voloz's own contemporary cinematic twist to devise surprising, clear and imaginative narratives. This dynamic workshop introduces participants to the fundamentals of collaborative, cinematic devising.

Saturday, July 20 and Sunday, July 21

Don't Make Me Get Dressed by The Gottabees (Boston)

Performances on Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.

For every child who has struggled to get into their clothes first thing in the morning (and for every parent who has fought valiantly in the battleground of the morning routine), comes Don't Make Me Get Dressed – a gloriously silly and inventive ode to the feelings we have when we choose our clothes...and to what happens when our clothes come to life and choose us.


Sunday, July 21

12 p.m. - 1 p.m.


Taught by The Gottabees

Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.

For ten years, the Gottabees have been sharing rich, complex stories for and with families around the world... all without performer Bonnie Duncan saying a single word. How do they do it? In this workshop, composers Brendan Burns and Tony Leva and performer-creator Bonnie Duncan share their secrets for creating original scores for devised work. 


Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, 4048 W. Armitage Ave.

For the second year, the Festival is partnering with the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center in the Hermosa neighborhood to create a residency with the French-English theater company Voloz Collective. The residency will take place from July 17 - July 21. The company will spend each day teaching the summer camp students theater skills and then invite the students and their families to see the performances at Theater Wit. This partnership builds on last year's residency, which resulted from years of making connections with relevant partner organizations like Chicago Latino Theater Alliance and connecting with local physical theater artists in previous Festival editions.


Physical Theater Festival Chicago is an annual contemporary, visual and physical theater festival that presents new forms of theater that are being performed around the world. In 2014, Alice da Cunha and Marc Frost launched the inaugural Physical Theater Festival 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.

Originally from Brazil, de Cunha is an actress, producer and teacher who has lived and worked in Portugal, the United States and the United Kingdom. While in London, she worked as an actress as well as producing a weekly short film festival, ShortCutz London, and as the marketing director for CASA, London's Latin American Theatre Festival. de Cunha also serves as artistic consultant to Theater Unspeakable and has acted in various films, TV and theater shows including United Flight 232 (House Theatre of Chicago, Jeff for Best Ensemble and Best Mid-Sized Production). She also does translation and interpreting for various companies including the Chicago Latino Film Festival.

Marc Frost is an actor, deviser, educator and Chicago native who has performed and produced work in Brazil, Ireland, Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom. He created Theater Unspeakable as a platform for original works of devised, physical theater. Based in Chicago, the award-winning company has toured nationally, performing at venues including Lincoln Center Education (NY) and Kennedy Center (DC). He currently teaches at Columbia College Chicago and Roosevelt University. Frost is also a proud graduate of the Commercial Theatre Institute's 14-Week Training Program for Commercial Theatre Producers in New York City.


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