Physical Theater Festival Chicago Preview – The Sixth Year

Festival Poster

The 6th annual Physical Theater Festival Chicago will be back from May 31 to June 8 with nine whirlwind days of physical theatre programming featuring four shows from around the world, a hometown show, master classes with international guest artists, and a Scratch Night featuring new short works from local performers. All shows have just three performances at most, but it seems that you can hardly go wrong. Check what is happening at the Physical Theater Festival website.

New additions include: Internationally acclaimed physical theater acts from Brazil and Finland join contemporary physical theater artists from Denmark, the UK and Chicago for nine days of highly physical, incredibly visceral and wholly original works – theater that moves you. 

Several acts

Helga – life of a diva extraordinaire, an “absurd comedy” from Finland, skillfully performed by circus artist Henni Kervinen and directed by Jenni Kallo of the renowned Kallo Collective. Tragedy and comedy meet as Helga invites us into her world, from the mundane details of her day to the fabulous memories of her life. Kervinen uses mime, clowning and circus skills to describe Helga’s life, which is simultaneously tragic and comic. The work is also silent, no interpreter needed, making it a real option for audiences that are deaf or hearing impaired. Performances are Friday, May 31 at 9 p.m.; Saturday, June 1 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, June 2 at 5 p.m.

The Gift, performed by Brazilian-born clown and actor Angela de Castro, perhaps best known for creating the Green Clown in Slava’s Snowshow. In this poignant, funny story of love, loss and loneliness, a clown waits…and waits…and waits for his date to arrive. In what seems an eternity he walks a tightrope between passion and despair. Will it all end in tears or laughter? Don’t miss this heart-warming tale in the great tradition of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Performance are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 6, 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. 

The Gift

The Raveling, a work in progress from Chicago’s Walkabout Theatre. Part family fever dream, part fairy tale, part detective story, watch co-creators from Chicago, Toronto and New Delhi ravel threads of heritage, history and hearsay as the knot of belonging is stretched and pulled across countries and decades of legends, heroes, and misadventures. The Raveling is part of the festival’s inaugural Fresh Series, a new program for long-form showings to compliment Scratch Night, a program for short-form works-in-progress. Performances are 

Walkabout, Raveling, Anatacia Narrajos

Sunday, June 2 at 8:30 p.m. and Monday, June 3 at 9 p.m.

The festival’s annual Scratch Night, a wildly entertaining evening of new and experimental short works by emerging and veteran physical theater artists, is Tuesday, June 4 at 9 p.m. Stay tuned for the line-up.

Already confirmed as part of the sixth annual Physical Theater Festival Chicago are:

Next Door, an award-winning show by Danish company Out of Balanz, returns after a sold-out smash hit run at Chicago’s first Physical Theater Festival. This lo-fi, high-octane, poignant physical comedy is back to celebrate the importance of relationships and what connects all of us, even with your neighbor. Performances open the festival Friday, May 31 at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 1 at 9 p.m. and Sunday, June 2 at 2 p.m.

Chicago’s Aura Curi-Atlas Physical Theatre makes its Physical Theater Festival debut with A Life with No Limits, also part of the festival’s new Fresh Series. Inspired by the life and work of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, this ambitious new piece is told wordlessly through dance, theater, acrobatics and original music. It reflects on the determination, passion and sense of humor of someone who has severe physical limitations, yet also has an imagination that roams free. Performances are Monday and Tuesday, June 3 and 4 at 7 p.m.

Freeman, a Chicago premiere by Strictly Arts (UK), also marks the largest international production ever presented at Physical Theater Festival Chicago. This stunning new work, a critically acclaimed, sold out hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, is inspired by William Freeman, the first man in America to plead insanity as his defense. Using physical theater, spoken word, gospel singing, shadow puppetry and more, Freeman threads together six true stories, including Sandra Bland’s, to examine the unspoken link between mental health and systemic racism. Freeman closes the festival Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 6, 7 and 8 at 9 p.m.

A robust series of professional education workshops taught by visiting festival artists as part of Physical Theater Festival Chicago is also to be announced. Visit physicalfestival.com for updates and to register.

Home base for Physical Theater Festival Chicago is Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Festival passes ($50 and $65) and single tickets ($15-$20) to all announced shows are on sale now at physicalfestival.com

More about the 2019 Physical Theater Festival Chicago

Back for its sixth year, Chicago’s Physical Theater Festival presents a diverse slate of radically different works of physical theater, loosely defined as storytelling through highly physical, highly visual means to create live, original and contemporary works. “Physical theater embraces such a wide variety of styles, approaches and aesthetics including clown, puppetry, mime, mask, dance, theater, vaudeville and circus, stop motion film and poetry to name just a few,” said Festival Co-Director Alice da Cunha. “Chicago is fortunate to be home to one of the best, most eclectic and adventurous audiences in the world. So ‘let’s get physical,’ Chicago. This is your chance to see an eye-opening variety of contemporary physical theater styles, artists and companies from around the globe.” 

Alice da Cunha and Marc Frost founders, Photo: francesa Bonifacio

A robust series of professional education workshops taught by visiting festival artists as part of Physical Theater Festival Chicago is also to be announced. Visit physicalfestival.com for updates and to register.
Home base for Physical Theater Festival Chicago is Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Festival passes ($50 and $65) and single tickets ($15-$20) to all announced shows are on sale now at physicalfestival.com

Photos: Courtesy of the Physical Theater Festival Chicago unless otherwise noted.

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