Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

The Building Stage Announces THE FRANKLIN EXPIDITION 9/25-10/30


The Building Stage unveils their latest completely unique original production exploring risk and the unknown in THE FRANKLIN EXPEDITION, performing September 25 to October 30 at The Building Stage, 412 N. Carpenter Street in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood.

Tickets go on sale on Wednesday, September 1 and are available by calling (312) 491-1369 or online at General Admission is $20 on Thursdays and Sundays, $25 on Fridays and Saturdays. Student tickets are available for $15.

About the Production

Sir John Franklin was a British naval officer and Arctic explorer who mapped almost two-thirds of the northern coastline of North America in search of the Northwest Passage. His final expedition in 1845 was meant to complete his life's work, traversing the last unnavigated section of the Northwest Passage. But Franklin and his two ships carrying 128 men were lost. Despite numerous rescue missions, their disappearance was a mystery from many years.

The Myth of Franklin has inspired a famous folk song, a play written by Wilkie Collins presented by Charles Dickens' amateur theatrical troupe, a radio play in verse by Canadian poet Gwendolyn MacEwen, and countless other works of art and history.

Now The Building Stage adds its voice to the Franklin myth. Rather than telling the story of any single expedition, this original theatrical work uses the character of Franklin to get at the heart of exploring, embracing the risk of vulnerability and the unknown, and the universal challenge of connecting our everyday actions with our deepest desires.

The Franklin Expedition, helmed by The Building Stage artistic director Blake Montgomery, is a lament for what we are and a dream of what we might be. Incorporating live music, movement, and clowning, along with more traditional scenes, the piece is created by the ensemble of performers, all of whom play Franklin as well as other characters whose lives have shaped, or been shaped by, his story.

Theater is made not written...

After our recent shows which adapted other complete works into a play, The Franklin Expedition is a return to the Building Stage philosophy in its purest form: beginning with the idea of what the show is about, the director and performers immerse themselves in research and source materials, playing day by day to find their way into the world and its characters, seeking the scenes which get at the heart of the idea. As these scenes begin to take shape, we work to find the structure that unifies the story and allows the audience to share in the journey. Almost nothing is known at the outset; each discovery opens new avenues to explore; It is a thrilling way to work but completely terrifying all the same. Not unlike Franklin's journey itself.

About the Building Stage

The Building Stage opened its doors with a critically acclaimed new vision of Hamlet in the fall of 2005, described as "an exquisite bare-bones [production]" (Performink Year in Review), and "a triumph of extraordinary achievement" (Gay Chicago). Since then the company has been honored with an After Dark Award for Outstanding Production (Dustbowl Gothic) and has presented a world premiere adaptation of Moby-Dick, an original work created out of clips from 1940s cinema classics called Noir (After Dark Award for Outstanding Technical Achievement), a minimalist adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, and a silent film-inspired adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. Most recently, The Building Stage produced the lauded, epic production of The Ring Cycle, a six-hour theatrical event based on Wagner's opera cycle.

In founding the company, Artistic Director Blake Montgomery, after a decade of training and creating work in the tradition of Physical Theater, wanted to take what he had learned in a new direction. "Most people-if they are aware of it at all-think of the physical theater only in terms of its technical and stylistic variations: mask, clown, movement, and mime. But what these forms have in common is how they lead to a whole different way in thinking about theater and the methods of its creation. I wanted to create work from this physical perspective while being free to explore a wide range of subjects, styles, and forms."

The Building Stage operates on the belief that theater is made not written. And while every project has its own unique process of creation, each is driven by the spirit of investigation: to ask, through the action on stage, how a piece functions, how it is constructed, and what must be done to make it work. Whether applied to the staging of an original idea, the adaptation of literature and other media, the reinterpretation of a pre-existing dramatic text, or the exploration of a specific theatrical form, it is this approach to the work that defines us.

The Building Stage company members include: David Amaral, Daiva Bhandari, Christopher Hibbard, Fannie Hungerford, Chelsea Keenan, Pamela Mauer, Lori Myers, Joanie Schultz, and Max Wirt. Blake Montgomery is the founder and Artistic Director.

Blake Montgomery is an actor, director, and creator whose approach to theater reflects his training at L'École internationale de théâtre Jacques Lecoq (as well as its scenographic wing, Le Laboratoire d'Etude du Mouvement), the Dell'Arte School of Physical Theater, the Margolis-Brown Movement Theater Lab, and with master clown Ronlin Foreman. He has conceived and/or directed the Building Stage productions: Hamlet, Dustbowl Gothic, Moby-Dick, Noir, and Dracula and co-directed The Ring Cycle. Montgomery played Halvard Solness in the Building Stage production of The Master Builder. In 2007, he appeared as Dr. Prentice in What the Butler Saw at the Court Theater. Previous to founding the Building Stage, he worked extensively with Redmoon Theater where he performed in Seagull at the Steppenwolf Studio, Nina outdoors in Los Angeles and in Humboldt Park, and Salao: The Worst Kind of Unlucky Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare.

Related Articles View More Chicago Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

More Hot Stories For You