‘Stages, Sights & Sounds’ kicks off in Chicago
May 2, 2012 5:04PM
Updated: June 4, 2012 11:36AM
The Chicago Humanities Festival started as a one-day event in 1990, and has since grown into an impressive major event drawing international talent and offering diverse programs throughout the year.
A festival spinoff, “Stages, Sights & Sounds,” kicked off yesterday and runs through May 12. This event had been the Children’s Humanities Festival, but was renamed to reflect the fact that its offerings of creative performances from around the world are engaging to audiences of all ages.
This year’s “Stages, Sights & Sounds” program showcases five very different productions: a fun, simplified retelling of a Shakespeare play; a popular physical comedy production from a Second City stage; a Japanese puppeteer using paper cuts and projections to tell fairly tales; an acrobatic production about teen issues; and a one man performance using visual storytelling.
What the festival says they all have in common is that they “explore play, physically and philosophically.”
“The Postman” and “The Wall” will be performed at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave.
“The Postman” is a visual performance in which an open package leads to imaginative adventures. A video clip of this performance had similarities to the charming television program, “Mr. Bean.”
“The Wall” is performed by an acrobatic Cirque-du Soliel-like troupe tumbling through a story about teen issues.
The other three productions will take place at the Josephine Louis Theater at 20 Arts Circle on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University.
“Nearly Lear” is a one-woman show telling the story of Shakespeare’s King Lear from the perspective of the Fool.
In “Fairy Tales,” an internationally award-winning puppeteer imaginatively uses paper, scissors, projections and other props to tell fairy tales. “Superman 2050” is performed by seven actors on a 3-by-7 feet stage, and had a successful run at Second City.
The performance schedule can be found at www.chicagohumanities.org. Tickets are $11 for adults and $5 for children, and can be ordered through the website.
Gamelan music show
Another unique program with international flair will be Sunday’s annual concert of traditional and contemporary Javanese gamelan music performed by the Friends of the Gamelan, a group based in the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park Chicago neighborhood.
Gamelan is a set of instruments that features bronze gongs and xylophone-like instruments plus drums, and may also include stringed instruments, flutes and vocals. This form of music has ancient origins and is still used in ceremonies and performances in Indonesia.
This ensemble, Friends of the Gamelan, claims its roots date back to the 1893 Colombian Exposition, at the Java Village that was one of the attractions on the Midway Plaisance.
Gamelan music is both exotic and entrancing to listen to, and interesting to watch performed. If you go, try and arrive early to get a seat with a view of the musicians.
The concert is at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 6, at the Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn Ave. in Chicago. Suggested admission is $15 for adults and $5 for students.
Photos of the instruments and samples of gamelan music are available on the group website www.chicagogamelan.org.