In celebration of their 30th anniversary season, The Neo-Futurists are thrilled to announce the return of holiday hit BURNING BLUEBEARD in co-production with The Ruffians for seven performances only, December 26 – 31, 2018 at The Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. in Chicago. Since its premiere as an original Neo-Futurist production in 2011, the fantastical tale inspired by Chicago’s 1903 Iroquois Theatre has been an annual Chicago holiday favorite for seven years running. Tickets are currently available at neofuturists.org.
Written by Jay Torrence and directed by Halena Kays, BURNING BLUEBEARD will feature original cast members Pamela Chermansky (Fancy Clown), Jay Torrence (Robert Murray) and Ryan Walters (Eddie Foy), with newcomers Kaitlyn Andrews (Nellie Reed), Dave Honigman (Henry Gilfoil) and Crosby Sandoval (Faerie Queen).
Inspired by the true story of Chicago’s 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire, BURNING BLUEBEARD is the story of six singed clown performers who emerge from the burnt remains of history attempting to perform their spectacular Christmas Pantomime once and for all. But this time, they hope to finally reach the true happy ending of their second act and avoid the fateful fire that killed 600 of its audience members. BURNING BLUEBEARD is a whimsical romp with a sensitive heart, a joyful eulogy with a sharp irreverent wit including music, clowning, tumbling, acrobatics and dance. Each performance is a vaudevillian delight with a story that excavates the poetic and poignant remains of a piece of Chicago’s rich history.
The run of BURNING BLUEBEARD will include a performance on the 115th anniversary of the actual Iroquois Theatre fire (Sunday, December 30 at 3 pm). An optional New Year’s Eve VIP Package is available that includes performances of BURNING BLUEBEARD (7:30 pm) and THE INFINITE WRENCH, The Neo-Futurists’ flagship late-night show of 30 two-minute plays in an hour (11 pm). In between shows, VIP ticket holders will be treated to a full dinner, live performances and music, brews from Metropolitan Brewery and type-written poetry on demand from Poems While You Wait. The evening will conclude with a champagne or sparking apple juice toast.
Wednesday, December 26 at 7:30 pm (preview)
Thursday, December 27 at 7:30 pm
Friday, December 28 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 29 at 3 pm & 7:30 pm
Sunday, December 30 at 3 pm
Special New Year’s Eve Performance on Monday, December 31 at 7:00 pm
Regular run: $35 ($30 early bird discount through December 12). Students/seniors $25.
New Year’s Eve VIP Package: $75 – A limited number of special VIP New Year’s Eve packages are available for Dec. 31, including tickets to both BURNING BLUEBEARD at 7 pm and The Neo-Futurists’ flagship late-night show THE INFINITE WRENCH at 11 pm. In between shows, VIP ticket holders will be treated to dinner, live performance and music, brews from Metropolitan Brewery and type-written poetry on demand from Poems While You Wait. The Neo-Futurists' THE INFINITE WRENCH will finish just in time for an audience champagne or sparkling apple juice toast at midnight. Tickets are currently available at neofuturists.org.
The production team for BURNING BLUEBEARD includes: Maggie Fullilove-Nugent (lighting design), Mike Tutaj (sound design), Sam Moryoussef (production manager) and Justine Palmisano (stage manager).
About the Artists
Jay Torrence (Playwright and Robert Murray) is a Ruffian and the playwright who created Burning Bluebeard, Roustabout! The Great Circus Trainwreck and Ivywild. As a former Neo-Futurist Artistic Director and ensemble member, Torrence worked over a decade writing, directing and performing hundreds of short plays that debuted here in Chicago and toured throughout the nation. Other theater credits include: 500 Clown, Theater Oobleck, Akvavit Theatre, The Actor’s Gymnasium, Theater on the Lake, The Hypocrites, Redmoon Theater, Woolly Mammoth, Geva, Shakespeare Theatre Company (DC), The New Victory Theater (NY), The Actors Theatre of Louisville and Edmonton Actors Theatre. Internationally, this is the 12th production of Burning Bluebeard.
Halena Kays (Director) is an Artistic Associate with the Neo-Futurists where she directed Pop/Waits, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, Burning Bluebeard, co-created and directed Daredevils and Daredevils’ Hamlet and the sight specific extravaganza, Fake Lake. Some interesting Chicago directing credits include: Endgame, Ivywild, Six Characters in Search of an Author at The Hypocrites; The Magic Play at The Goodman, Lord of the Flies at Steppenwolf TYA; Feast (part of a collaborative directing effort) with The Albany Park Theatre Project at The Goodman. Regionally Halena has directed The Magic Play at The Olney Theater Center and The Actor’s Theater of Louisville, Portland Center Stage and Syracuse Stage, Love Song with The Nashville Story Garden and Secretary for Nashville Rep’s Ingram New Works Festival. Halena is former artistic director of The Hypocrites and the co-founder and former artistic director of Barrel of Monkeys. She is a UT-Austin and Northwestern grad, former member of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care unit, past co-artistic curator for Theater on the Lake and assistant professor in acting and directing at Northwestern University. Halena has been nominated for a Jefferson Citation for Best Supporting Actress and Best Direction, is a recipient of the prestigious 3Arts award and received a signed letter from Mr. Rogers saying she was “special” in 1978. Proud mom of Ripley and proud member, SDC.
Kaitlyn Andrews (Nellie Reed) is a theatre-maker, performer and aerialist here in Chicago. Her most recent credits include Tangles & Plaques at The Neo-Futurists as both a performer and contributing writer, and she has also just began her journey as an Artistic Associate with Barrel of Monkeys. Kaitlyn studied Theatre at Northwestern University, and currently trains in aerial rope at Aloft Circus Arts.
Pamela Chermansky (Fancy Clown) is a Chicago Theatre Artist who is "ON FIRE" about bringing back the role of Fancy Clown for her FIFTH SCORCHING YEAR! She currently works as a clown for Vaudeville Chicago and Healthy Humor. Pamela worked for many years as a mime artist and teacher and is honored to have spent several years in what she considers the magical orbit of the late Marcel Marceau, who is also the inspiration for her clown, Madame Bustiere! Her work as a mime, actor, clown and teacher has taken her across the United States as well as China, France, Taiwan and Mexico.
Dave Honigman (Henry Gilfoil) was one of the last Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey circus clowns in Out of This World, the closing tour. He since joined forces with Gray Talent Group and made his Chicago debut in Red Theater Chicago's Jeff Award-winning The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (The Referee), directed by Jeremy Aluma. In association with The Clown School of Los Angeles, Honigman was a company member of Four Clowns, as well as a founding member of The Innocents.
Crosby Sandoval (The Faerie Queen) is a circus performer and circus arts teacher specializing in Chinese Pole, Trap and Silks. Crosby can also be seen spinning the entire weight of his body by the roots of his hair under the Big Top. This is Crosby’s debut performance with The Ruffians.
Ryan Walters (Eddie Foy) is a founding member of The Ruffians and appeared in the original production of Burning Bluebeard at the Neo-Futurists. Ryan is an alumnus of the Neo-Futurists theater company where he performed regularly in Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind and served as Artistic Director from 2009-2012. With the Neos, he conceived and co-created Picked Up, Daredevils and Daredevils’ Hamlet. An emeritus member of Barrel of Monkeys, he taught and performed in their school program, and performed in the public celebration of their students’ work, That’s Weird, Grandma. Other credits include The Infinite Wrench, Patriots, The Fool Returns to his Chair, Roustabout, Fake Lake, Beer The Musical!, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents (Neo-Futurists), Six Characters in Search of an Author and Ivywild (The Hypocrites).
About The Neo-Futurists
Celebrating its 30th Anniversary this season, The Neo-Futurist Theater is a collective of writer-director-performers who create theater that is a fusion of sport, poetry and living newspaper. The company has created more than 10,400 plays to date within its flagship late-night event (now known as The Infinite Wrench) and more than 65 full-length mainstage productions incorporating its signature non-illusory, interactive style of performance. From humble beginnings launching the first late-night theater production in Chicago, The Neo-Futurist Theater created what became the city’s longest-running show and has grown to become one of the most highly regarded experimental theater companies in the United States, with sister companies in San Francisco and New York. For more information, visit www.neofuturists.org.
The Neo-Futurist Theater is partially supported by grants from Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Arts Work Fund, The Chicago Community Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Illinois Arts Council Agency, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts.
About The Ruffians
The Ruffians are an artistic collective of theater makers (clowns, daredevils, acrobats, dancers, writers, performers, designers, directors). The Ruffians have all honed their craft working over a decade in Chicago’s various and thriving experimental, clown and storefront theater communities. A Ruffians objective is to make beautiful things with rough edges. A Ruffians motto: Breathe. Dare. Live.
our most recent top picks
Blue Man Group ★★★