Outdoor theater comes to Chicagoland

Eat a Nicoise salad outdoors and it tastes better. Sleep in a tent by the lake and bedtime becomes an adventure. There’s something about taking the inside world outside that adds an element of mystery and fun to just about anything.

Theatre-Hikes take full advantage of this notion by bringing live productions to wooded trails in and near the city. This fall, patrons will have the opportunity to walk color-blazed paths at Morton Arboretum, pausing along the way to watch the scenes of a play.

Theatre-Hikes began in the fall of 2001 through the collaborative efforts of a group of professional Actors’ Equity Association performers and Morton Arboretum. Besides presenting top-notch theatrical performances, the people at Theatre-Hikes want to encourage a respect for hiking trails and the state and local parks.

Preparing for a Theatre-Hikes performance is like getting ready for a walk, a picnic and a play all at the same time. You need sturdy shoes, snacks and/or a water bottle, a lawn chair or blanket and some imagination. It is best to travel light. Audience members carry everything with them as a hike leader guides them along the path to each scene of the show. Plan to arrive early.

Fall performances at the Arboretum include:

  • “A Walk with Mark Twain: The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and The Diaries of Adam and Eve,” weekends Sept. 7-29 at 1 p.m. This is a good introduction to the work of Mark Twain and is appropriate for all ages.
  • “The Passion of Dracula,” weekends Oct. 5-27 and Columbus Day (Oct. 14) at 3 p.m. While this production of Bram Stoker’s classic novel contains no inappropriate material, it is best for teens and young adults.

The first Sunday performance of each month is a low-impact hike, suitable for strollers, wheelchairs and walkers.

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