Strap yourself in because Physical Festival Chicago is returning June 1-9, 2018 for its fifth anniversary outing.
Top, from L: The 2018 Physical Festival will feature La Causeuse (The Loveseat) by Equivoc’ from Montreal, Red Bastard: Lie with me from New York City, (bottom) The Other by Gaël Le Cornec from Brazil/France, and The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha by Little Soldier Productions from Spain/UK. Michael Montenegro, the acclaimed artistic director of Evanston’s Theatre Zarko, is the 2018 festival’s featured Chicago artist.
Hold tight for nine whirlwind days of physical theater programming including four incredible, award-winning shows from around the world, hometown master Michael Montenegro, a Scratch Night featuring cutting edge new works by Chicago performers, and master classes taught by top international physical theater artists.
2018 Physical Festival visiting artists include the Montreal-based collective Equivoc’ presenting La Causeuse, a poignant, darkly comic work about a young woman’s sordid, doomed romance, June 1-3.
Sure to shock and seduce is New York’s Red Bastard with a new work Red Bastard: Lie with me, a wild one man show about lies lovers tell, June 1-3.
Franco-Brazilian Gaël Le Cornec presents The Other, a disturbing coming-of-age, dark adventure-thriller about a girl refugee overflowing with poetry, strange creatures and stunning imagery, June 7-9.
Spain/UK-based Little Soldier Productions, aka Patricia Rodriguez and Mercè Ribot, presentThe Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha, a bold, physical attempt to re-enact Cervantes’ sweeping, timeless novel, in its entirety.
Michael Montenegro, the acclaimed artistic director of Evanston’s Theatre Zarko, is the 2018 festival’s featured Chicago artist. Theatre Zarko will present Drunken Half Angel, a unique selection of short solo puppet and mask theater performances created by Montenegro and accompanied by Jude Matthews and fellow musicians, June 5-6.
In addition, emerging Chicago physical theater artists will perform new and experimental work at Scratch Night, June 4.
So get set for theater that moves you during the fifth anniversary of Physical Festival Chicago. All performances are presented at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.
Festival passes ($45 and $60) and single tickets ($12-$18) are on sale now atphysicalfestival.com.
What is Physical Festival Chicago?
Physical theater pursues storytelling through primarily physical and visual means to create original and contemporary work. It embraces a wide variety of styles, approaches and aesthetics including clown, puppetry, mime, mask, dance, theater, vaudeville and circus, stop motion film and poetry, among others.
Physical Festival Chicago, founded in 2014 and curated by Alice da Cunha and Marc Frost, is the city’s annual contemporary, visual and physical theater festival presenting new forms of theater from around the world.
Following is the full, fifth anniversary line-up for Physical Festival Chicago, in chronological order, June 1-9:
La Causeuse (The Loveseat) by Equivoc’
From Montreal, Canada
Friday and Saturday, June 1 and 2 at 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 3 at 5 p.m.
For ages 16+
Steeped in solitude and without a word, a young woman guides us through poignant and darkly comic dialogues as she revisits the shreds and memories of a sordid and doomed romance. As wandering hands seduce and frolic, she dances and wrestles with the enigmatic ghosts of her inner world.
La Causeuse is a brilliantly virtuosic physical theater piece at the crossroads of dance, mime, physical and object theatre, describing purely through what we see a vividly poetic world of intrigue and uncertainty. The Scotsman called it "...a very fine show, full of invention, and sadness and a rich, self-deprecating humour, expressed in powerful physical comedy"
Montreal’s Equivoc’, under the artistic leadership of Olivia Faye Lathuillière, explores the way the body interacts with its environment and fundamental elements such as sound, space, time and movement. Learn more at equivoc.org.
Red Bastard: Lie with me
From New York, USA
Friday and Saturday, June 1 and 2 at 9 p.m.
Sunday, June 3 at 7 p.m.
For ages 18+
How free is your love? You’re about to find out. Every. Single. One of you.
Red Bastard is coming to Chicago to expose the lies we tell our lovers and those bastards who made us lie in the first place! A complete Edinburgh Fringe sell-out in 2013, 2014 and 2017, New York’s Red Bastard is ready to charm, disarm, shock and seduce in this brilliant new show. The List named Red Bastard one of the “Top 5 shows in the UK. 5 stars.” TheEdinburgh Evening News exclaimed “Not a show. This is an experience.”
Red Bastard, aka Eric Davis, is an award winning, New York-based performer, writer, director and teacher, and a former performer with Cirque du Soleil. The red beast within, acclaimed by critics and sold-out audiences across the globe, is an infamous buffoon who fuses theater, stand-up, clown and social psychology to create powerful, life-changing comedy. Learn more at redbastard.com.
Monday, June 4 at 7 p.m.
Scratch Night is the festival’s annual, one-night-only showcase of what is brewing in Chicago’s physical theater scene. Six local artists TBA will present ten minutes of new, experimental work.
Drunken Half Angel, a selection of short solo pieces attempting, with one wing, to escape gravity
By Theater Zarko, created by Michael Montenegro and accompanied by Jude Matthews and fellow musicians
Tuesday and Wednesday, June 5 at 6 at 7 p.m.
For ages 11+
Over the past 20 years, Chicago’s Michael Montenegro, this year’s local featured artist, has developed a signature style of puppet and mask theater as both a solo artist and collaborator.
His work Drunken Half Angel is a unique selection of short solo puppet and mask theater performances ranging from the grotesque, to the comical, and then poignant. Inventive, innovative, unusual, and occasionally profound, Montenegro will be accompanied by the magical and sublime original music of Jude Mathews, Musical Director of Theatre Zarko.
Montenegro is artistic director of Theatre Zarko which has presented numerous original puppet theater plays such as He Who, Haff (The Man), Sublime Beauty of Hands, Klown Kantos and Iktu Blas. His collaborations include commissions by the Lookingglass Theatre for Mary Zimmerman’s Argonautica, by Next Theatre for The War With the Newts and The Long Christmas Ride Home, and by Writers Theatre for The Puppetmaster of Lodz, which earned a Jeff Award for puppet design. In 2016 he collaborated with Blair Thomas, Greg Allen, Michael Zerang, and Michael Smith on Blair Thomas & Co.’s production of Moby Dick at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, which was restaged at the 2017 International Puppet Festival in Charleville-Mezieres, France in 2017. Montenegro also presented Kick The Klown in the 2017 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival in collaboration with director Greg Allen.
Jude Mathews has been Music Director and Composer for Theatre Zarko since 2000, working in collaboration with Michael Montenegro to develop the sound elements of the theatre’s work. She is trained as a classical pianist, playing in chamber music ensembles and Klezmer, Balkan, and barn dance bands. More recently, she studied interdisciplinary arts, songwriting, and composition at Columbia College and Northeastern University. She has composed and performed for Perceptual Motion Dance Company, Access Contemporary Music, and at various interdisciplinary events around the Midwest.
Learn more here.
The Other by Gaël Le Cornec
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 7-9 at 7 p.m.
For ages 14+
Unicef estimates 30 million children are fleeing brutal violence, extreme poverty or both today. Gaël Le Cornec’s The Other is a kickass one girl show about surviving war and refuge.
Embark in this disturbing coming-of-age, twisted fairy tale, darkly comic adventure-thriller overflowing with poetry, strange creatures and stunning imagery. Like many others, one night, young Mana from the Red-yellow planet, is forced to catch a shooting star to seek refuge elsewhere. During her journey across the universe, imagination is her best defense. Will she win her struggle for survival? Will Mana ever arrive to her dreamland, the beautiful blue planet?
Don’t miss this 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Three Weeks Editors Choice Award winner, Edinburgh Fringe Top Show about Refugees and 2017 runner-up for Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression. Le Cornec is a French/Brazilian actress, director and playwright. Acting credits include 23 stage productions around the world, from one-woman shows about Camille Claudel and Frida Kahlo, to recent productions at London’s Young Vic Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe. Learn more here.
The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha by Little Soldier Productions
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 7-9 at 9 p.m.
For ages 16+
Little Soldier Productions boldly re-enacts one of the most accomplished works of fiction ever written with this award winning, critically acclaimed take on Cervantes’ timeless novel.
Two feisty senoritas and a downtrodden Englishman embark on a journey through Spain, accompanied only by a guitarist whose presence makes no sense whatsoever. This is a wildly imaginative and provocative adventure of epic proportions, traversing joy, pain and ultimately, wisdom. Taken with a pinch of salt and a handlebar moustache, Physical Festival fans can look forward to 80 madcap minutes which conclude with the common sentiment, “These guys did not read the book.”
The Guardian hailed The Ingenious Gentleman…“Cunningly constructed and wonderfully inventive. A show that embodies not just Cervantes’ novel but the spirit of the fringe itself.” Time Out called it a “hilariously dirty adaptation” while Broadwaybaby pegged it “An absolutely riveting and hilarious physical theatre show. A must see.”
London-based Little Soldier Productions was founded by award-winning performers Patricia Rodriguez and Mercè Ribot, both from Spain. They are clowning, devising and physical theater specialists who have toured extensively in the UK and abroad in the U.S., Mexico, Spain and Poland. Little Soldier is joined on stage by Told By an Idiot associate artist Stephen Harper, with help from their mentor, Spymonkey’s Aitor Basauri. Learn more at littlesoldierproductions.co.uk.
Learn from physical theater masters
Physical Festival Chicago also offers a series of master classes exploring the breadth of physical theater, open to Chicago theater artists and the general public, taught by 2018 visiting and local artists. Classes already on the schedule include Bouffon Workshop taught by Eric Davis (aka Red Bastard), Sunday, June 3, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Build your Own Solo taught by Gaël Le Cornec and Ben Samuels, Friday, June 8, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Behind the scenes: Physical Fest Chicago
In 2014, Alice da Cunha and Marc Frost launched the inaugural Physical 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.
Five years later, Physical Festival Chicago is following in the tradition of such great European theater festivals as the London International Mime Festival (LIMF) and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to name a few. Each year, the Festival seeks to program work that is:
Contemporary - using cutting-edge, on-the-pulse theatrical forms that are responding to the contemporary moment using contemporary notions of theater.
Visual - elevating the visual aspects of its stories, theater which is occupied with the creation of visual atmospheres and images as much as verbal text.
Physical - pursuing storytelling through primarily physical means, whose aim is to create original stories which start and end with the body as the foundational textual source.
Since 2014, Physical Fest Chicago has presented artists and companies from (alpha list of all countries you’ve ever presented here.)
Co-Artistic Director Alice da Cunha has worked for various festivals. While in London, she was the Marketing Director for CASA (London's Latin American Theatre Festival) and she produced, curated and presented SHORTCUTZ (a weekly short film festival). She was also the Production Assistant for TODOS Festival, an interdisciplinary festival in Lisbon, Portugal. In Chicago she has worked in Hospitality for the Chicago Latino Film Festival for the last two years. da Cunha is also an actress and has performed in many plays and films.
Co-Artistic Director Marc Frost has started two theater companies and one theater festival. At Tufts University, he co-founded Bare Bodkin Theater Company to give student playwrights a platform for their work. In London, he co-created and curated Physical, a scratch night for new pieces of physical theater. Back in Chicago, he founded Theater Unspeakable to create devised, physical theater.
Physical Festival Chicago is supported by The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and is also supported by Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Events (DCASE), Fractured Atlas, Stage 773 and Theater Unspeakable LLC.
For more information, visit physicalfestival.com.