Physical Theater Festival Chicago Presents First Outdoor Event

Jun 30, 2021
Physical Theater Festival Chicago

After sheltering-in place for a full year and presenting a virtual edition of their event last year, Physical Theater Festival Chicago is ready to come out and play. The Festival, in their first collaboration with the Chicago Park District's Night Out in the Parks series, presents Physical Theater Festival In the Park, a one-day family-friendly outdoor event featuring Chicago's The Era Footwork Crew, New York's 3AM Theater, and four short pop-up acts from renowned Chicago artists with backgrounds in circus, puppetry, mask and music performance. The free event will take place at Nichols Park, 1355 East 53rd St., in the Hyde Park neighborhood on Saturday, July 31 from 2-8 p.m. Reservations are recommended. For more information, visit

The fun starts at 2 pm with the first of the four pop-up acts: Ancestral Procession by Chicago theatre director and puppeteer Jerrell L. Henderson, a piece involving masks, puppets and music centered on raising awareness and building community through performance. Henderson's performance will be immediately followed at 3 pm by performances from local artists Jean Claudio, Laura Crotte and Stephanie Diaz.

The Era Footwork Crew will hit the main stage at 4 pm with She Pick the Speed, a representation of how masculine energy can be supportive of the feminine presence that exists within dance and music, and how recognizing that presence allows them to be in control of the space. Through heavily improvised body motions and short, but lyrical soliloquy, The Era will take audiences on a pathway to a space where men and women both meet and support one another equally.

For the grand finale, 3AM Theatre will present Mindful Manipulations, a comedic and playful adventure of three performers journeying through a surreal world, showcasing their ability to fuse common, everyday objects with magical and extraordinarily unusual stories. Umbrellas fly, brooms have a mind of their own, juggling balls turn into music as an enormous kinetic light sculpture mimics their stories.

Night Out in the Parks events hosted in a Chicago Park District location must adhere to the City of Chicago's guidelines for park use, which state that all park users should continue to wear face coverings and practice social distancing when in a crowd. Patrons who are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 are asked to stay home and join us for an event when symptoms subside. For updates on health and safety guidelines, visit

Physical Festival Theater Chicago will still have a virtual component in the form of a 3D immersive audio story, a panel discussion and a workshop to be announced. Produced by Limbik Theatre (UK), a company dedicated to creating new theatre and live experiences in physical and digital spaces, Pangea tells the story of a woman who wakes up one morning to the sound of the dawn chorus of local birds calling her name. Intrigued (and a little bit terrified), she embarks on a journey of discovery across Southeast London, aided by an eccentric English birder and an enigmatic Brazilian professor. Pangea is an episodic, interactive, immersive audio play, downloaded as an app, and designed to be experienced in and around your home. You'll need a smartphone and a pair of headphones. The story will be available anytime July 31st.

The panel discussion, moderated by Physical Theater Festival co-founder and artistic director Alice da Cunha, will take a look at the state of the performing arts today, what has changed a year later and what the future will hold. Panelists include theater producer Yuenhung Lei (Hong Kong), Birmingham's BE Festival co-founder Miguel Oyarzun (Spain), and artistic director of the multi-disciplinary National Arts Festival Rucera Seethal (South Africa). The panel will stream on Sunday, August 1 at 10 am. To register visit

"Chicagoans, myself included, need beauty, need spectacle, need magic and a sense of wonder after the year we've been through," said da Cunha. "We have brought together a wonderful group of inventive, amazingly creative artists who through dance, puppetry, music, and some clowning around will delight families and set their children's imaginations on fire."

"This is both our first outdoor event and our first event ever on Chicago's South Side. We wanted to connect with a new audience and start making inroads in other neighborhoods all across the city. This collaboration with the Chicago Park District's and the City of Chicago's Nights Out program provides us with a wonderful opportunity to bring the festival and physical theater to those who may be unfamiliar with it," said Festival co-founder Marc Frost.