Sunday, January 21, 2024

World Premiere of Wakka Wakka's Delightful Dead as a Dodo Highly Recommended

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Dead as a Dodo

Via Wakka Wakka From The U.S./Norway

 at The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival  

Ages: 8 and up


By Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

"It's all just fog and sparkling darkness"

It was truly a treat to see the World Premiere of Dead as a Dodo. When we think extinct, "Go the way of the Dodo" is at the top of the list. Yet scientists are presently bringing back extinct species (yes De-extinction is now a thing), while human beings teeter precariously close to joining the list. Climate denial is still rampant, and even among humans trying for change and sustainability, it's tough to change minds and actions.

Wakka Wakka to the rescue! These intrepid eco-puppeteers shoot straight for the heart with deep truths embedded in a visually stunning production. The misadventures of their skeleton Dodo and skeleton Neanderthal are so much fun to experience, you don't notice the eco-education seeping in. 

We were delighted and utterly charmed with this entire production. I've never seen puppeteers and sets covered in sparkling fabric instead of matte black, and the black light ocean scenes were amazing. We especially got a kick out of watching the dodo inexplicably regenerate piecemeal, from bones to a fully fleshed bird, on stage!

The lighting is stellar, the set, puppet design, sound design, and puppetry and writing is all world class. In fact, this production has my favorite line of the fest to date, "It's all just fog and sparkling darkness". Kudos to the cast that traveled in and the local Chicago crew that joined them. 

Theatre makers have been called the "canary in the coal mine" for their ability to effectively call out our looming human policies, politics, and problems earlier and more effectively than other mediums. It's easy to tune out the endless barrage of bad news coming at us online, on TV, and in print. Yet, people are more open when they've bought a ticket and chosen to come out to a venue. Humans are even more open when they're laughing and enjoying something creative and visually stunning.

Transformation starts in the mind and spreads to action. Could it be that our best hope for the survival of the species is art? Mad thanks for the Wakka Wakka wakeup call. Wakka Wakka: Animalia Trilogy is highly recommended.  

With 100+ puppetry activities in dozens of Chicago venues, and only 11 days to fit it all in, it can be daunting to try to Tetris in all the puppet possibilities. I'm officially reviewing 7 shows as an arts critic and catching an additional 5 just for fun, as an audience member. There's an incredible array of world class productions this year, from far-flung countries like Kenya, Mexico, Norway, and Germany, as well as many other states, so puppet up and see some shows. 

Full Puppet Fest Schedule, including video clips of the productions HERE.

Bonnie is a Chicago based writer, theatre critic, photographer, artist, and Mama to 2 amazing adults. She owns two websites where she publishes frequently: (adult) & (family friendly). 

World Premiere

Dead as a Dodo 

The Biograph Theater’s Začek-McVay Mainstage, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Park

January 19-21

Three shows: Friday, January 19 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, January 20 at 1:30 p.m.; Sunday, January 21 at 7 p.m.

75 minutes

Tickets: $40-$45

Deep within the underworld, a skeleton Dodo and a skeleton Neanderthal are tirelessly digging for fresh bones; their ancient skeletal forms are quickly deteriorating and they are afraid of disappearing completely. One day, a peculiar occurrence disrupts their routine...without warning, the Dodo miraculously sprouts a new bone! A maelstrom of transformation begins to unravel within the realm of bones, shattering the established order. The great reversal has begun. Infused with a blend of puppetry, projections, and humor, Dead as a Dodo offers a fantastical glimpse into a future that harkens back to the distant past.

More Fabulous Puppet Fun From Wakka Wakka:

Animalia Trilogy 

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Wakka Wakka's Animalia Trilogy

Wakka Wakka


The Immortal Jellyfish Girl

Steppenwolf's Downstairs Mainstage Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Lincoln Park

January 18-21

Four shows: Thursday, January 18 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday January 19 at 1:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 20 at 7 p.m.; Sunday, January 21 at 1:30 p.m. 

80 minutes

Ages: 10 and up

Tickets: $40-$45

Free events: Come make your own masks at free Wakka Wakka drop-in mask making workshops, Saturday and Sunday, January 20 and 21 at 2:45 p.m.

A gripping tale of humanity on the brink of annihilation and the unlikely hero who might just save them all. The year is 2555. Large swaths of earth’s surface are considered dead zones, and mass extinction has begun. There is a war (there is always a war). As both sides grow desperate, their thirst for destruction becomes more and more volatile. An improbable meeting between an orphan and a jellyfish girl threatens to tip the balance forever, but in whose favor, and at what cost? A mysterious man in a homemade fox costume has seen this all before, has lived this tragedy too many times, but he is determined it will end differently. Hilarious, ridiculous and virtuosic, this puppet show blends innovative projection, original music and puppetry that soars through dimensions, unconfined by time, gravity or biology. 

The New York Times called it "A 26th-century love story." 

The New Yorker called it "stunning."


By Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

There's something compelling in puppetry. Instead of actors pontificating front and center, people on stage hide in plain sight, while inanimate objects drive the action. What other form of theatre so skillfully and gorgeously melds light and shadows, artistry and craftsmanship, spoken word, multimedia elements, and object manipulation, all in the service of storytelling. 

For the 2024 fest, Wakka Wakka, based in Oslo, Norway and NYC, claim the coveted opening night spot, and bring not one but 3 very different, yet interrelated shows, to Chicago's Steppenwolf and Biograph Theatres January 18-23rd. 

The Immortal Jellyfish Girl is epic story telling for our time. This dystopian yet hopeful love story is a visual and auditory delight. We were awestruck at the world class artistry, design work, puppeteering, multimedia, and the original score. Wakka Wakka sounds the alarm on our global doomsday clock, offering a much needed eco-friendly reminder in a way that's not heavy handed. 

Do note, some of the storyline and characters may be frightening and too intense for young children. This show is recommended for ages 10+ and is truly more of an adult offering. The Immortal Jellyfish Girl engaged all our senses and left us wanting more. After catching this insanely talented troupe, we'll be on the lookout for more from Wakka Wakka in the future. Highly recommended!

Animal R.I.O.T.

Steppenwolf's 1700 Theater, 1650 N. Halsted St., Lincoln Park

January 19-23

Five shows: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, January 19-21 at 9:30 p.m.; 

Monday and Tuesday, January 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. 

75 minutes

Ages: 13 and up

Tickets: $30-$40

Animal R.I.O.T (Animal Resurgence In Our Time) is an anonymous anthropomorphic organization, founded by the Fantastic Mr. Fox (the non-fictional one). Can you believe it? The human species will come together and save all animals from extinction (including ourselves)! Become a real life masked avenger answering the CALL of the WILD and join the BIO-ECCENTRIC PACIFIST FIGHT CLUB! Join us or die out! 

Wakka Wakka Productions, Inc. is a non-profit visual theater company based in New York City and Oslo. Its mission is to push the boundaries of the imagination by creating works that are bold, unique and unpredictable. The company is led by Gabrielle Brechner, Kirjan Waage and Gwendolyn Warnock and supported by company members Andrew Manjuck and Peter Russo.

Since 2001 Wakka Wakka has created and produced 11 original works which have toured extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad. All of Wakka Wakka’s productions have been highly physical, overlapping in a wide range of styles and incorporating elements such as puppetry, object manipulation, masks and original music. Wakka Wakka has been honored with a Drama Desk Award, an Obie Award and two UNIMA Citations of Excellence, and nominated for four Drama Desk Awards, a Helen Hayes Award and a Hawes Design Award.

Everything you need to know about the 6th Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival January 18-28, 2024

January in Chicago isn't all dreary, cold, and grey. Puppet fest is back to put some color and joy into your January. Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows, we've covered the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival every year since it's inception. We're elated that they're now an annual fest instead of every other year, and we'll be out to review as much of the fest as possible once again in 2024. Check out the schedule below to save the dates. There'll be plentiful family friendly and adult puppet fun and we'll have the scoop right here. 

Tickets are now on sale for the 6th Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, the largest of its kind in North America, returning January 18-28, 2024, at venues large and small throughout the city. 

The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is the largest event dedicated to the art form in North America. In the heart of winter, the Festival spans 11 days and dozens of Chicago venues, sharing 100+ puppetry activities with 14,000+ guests. The festival includes performances, the Free Neighborhood Tour, a Puppet Hub open throughout the festival on the fourth floor of the Fine Arts Building, a symposium, the Catapult Artist Intensive, workshops, and more. 

Visit for tickets and information about the 6th Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, and sign up for the festival’s e-news.

Follow the festival on Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, hashtag #ChiPuppetFest.

No comments:

Post a Comment