For everyone whose offspring seem to have more fun with the packaging than the present itself, the 2017 Chicago International Puppet Festival has more than a few things right up your alley. The 12-day extravaganza features close to 50 different performances across the city with puppets of all shapes and sizes--including plenty made from the “found materials” that kids (and their adults!) dig so much.
We took in ‘Plastique’ by Montreal's Théâtre Puzzle at Adventure Stage Chicago, a gem of a (short!) show, which crafted sometimes sweet, sometimes sassy characters out of colorful plastic bags. The two performers (Canadian, by way of Hungary and Bulgaria), imbued the seemingly ordinary bags with narratives--our favorite was an interchange between an irate little girl and a stubborn mushroom--and had the crowd rolling. As with any family-friendly performance, the best part was watching the reactions of the children. The ones present didn’t disappoint in the slightest; emoting with bursts of applause, raucous laughter and barely concealed giggles long after each interchange had ended. If your kids have yet to explore the magic of live puppetry, I highly recommend this stunning art form (and the terrific venue of Adventure Stage Chicago’s Vittum Theater)!
While ‘Plastique’s’ jaunt in the Puppet Festival has ended, there’s still a full weekend of marvelously staged mayhem; Adventure Stage is hosting Open Eye Figure Theatre for what promises to be a sparkling take with marionettes on ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,’ both Friday night and for two performances on Saturday. Other picks? The gorgeous shadow play ‘Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic,’ hosted by Blair Thomas & Co. and playing in the Studebaker Theater at the historic Fine Arts Building, for one. Another sure bet, up at the always enlightening Neo-Futurarium, is ‘Future Crash: A Collision of Short Work’ by Vincent de Rooij and the Neo-Futurists. (As with the rest of the Neo-Futurist’s edgy and thought-provoking catalog, this one might be better suited to your older patrons of the puppet.)
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Keely Flynn is a Chicago playwright, freelance writer, and blogger living with three young children, an extraordinarily tolerant husband, and two cats who just try to make it through the day without being ridden like ponies. Check out her personal blog, lollygagblog.com.
See more of Keely's stories here.
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