Friday, May 6, 2016

Actors Gymnasium Hires Molly Brennan as Physical Theatre Director

Worlds Collide Alert:

Here at ChiIL Mama and ChiIL Live Shows we love it when our friends play well together. We've adored Molly Brennan's work for years, with 500 Clown, Steppenwolf, the Goodman, Lookingglass, Second City, Lyric Opera, Neo-Futurists, Lifeline, Barrel of Monkeys, and more. Her recent Pop Waits (Iggy Pop/Tom Waits) show with Malic White was one of our favorite storefront shows in recent months. The show was so well loved and interactive, they emptied the seats and had nearly the entire audience on stage, forming a concert style standing crowd, complete with White channeling Iggy Pop and crowd surfing! Molly is smart, insightful, mighty, and crazy good at physical theatre. 

Of course we also adore Actors Gymnasium too. My daughter's currently cast in her first show there, set to open May 14th. We've been covering AG shows and classes for years and they're certainly favorites of ours in Chicago's circus arts world. As a Chicago mom raising a long haired art boy and a mighty grrrrrrrl who refuses to wear skirts or dresses and embraces her own strength, I am elated they have fabulous role models for the unconventional like Molly Brennan. She's a huge asset to the Chicago theatre community on stage and off.

Sometimes a press release hits my inbox that makes my day and has me grinning ear to ear. THIS is that announcement.

Molly Brennan to Join AG Staff as Physical Theatre Director

The Actors Gymnasium is pleased to announce the addition of Molly Brennan to its faculty. Molly is the new Physical Theatre Director for the Professional Circus Training Program 2016-17 year. Molly is a well respected performer within the theatrical community, named "Chicago's Queen of Mischief and Mayhem" by American Theatre Magazine. 

"I'm excited to bring on board a co-director that is as dedicated as I am to developing well rounded performers. By the end of the program, students will be the type of performer the circus/physical theatre world needs today." says Program & Artistic Director Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi.

Its difficult to find a highly regarded artist community that Molly hasn't been involved with her appearances with Salonathon, the Paper Machete, the Moth, You're Being Ridiculous, the Fly Honey Show, Steppenwolf, the Goodman, Lookingglass, Second City, Lyric Opera, Neo-Futurists, About Face, Red Tape, the Factory Theatre, Lifeline, Barrel of Monkeys, the Kennedy Center, and more. She has taught Clown, Devising and Physical Theatre at DePaul, UIC, Northwestern, Columbia, Opera-Matic, Steppenwolf, University of Chicago, the Neo-Futurists, and various institutions nationwide. 

Her talent as a physical performer including actor, singer and clown, knowns no bounds. Much has been made of her taking on typically male roles including the Red Queen (originated by Tony Hernandez), Harpo in Goodman's Theatre's "Animal Crackers," Smee in Lookingglass' "Peter Pan." Co-founder of CLQWN MUTINY, Company Member of 500 Clown, and co-creator of the Madam Barker Show, Molly is a strong advocate for building one's own work in addition to working with established venues.

In addition to her work with the 9 month intensive Pro Training program, she will be offering physical theatre classes to the general population at The Actors Gymnasium starting in August.

In light of this announcement, the deadline for application to the Professional Circus Training Program has been extended. 

Meet the Teachers: Molly Brennan

The Actors Gymnasium is located at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes Street, Evanston, IL - just off of the Noyes purple line 'L' stop. The Noyes Cultural Arts Center is owned by the City of Evanston and home to over 20 artists and arts organizations offering music, theater, and visual arts programs and studios. The galleries exhibit local artists, with exhibitions changing every two months.

Actors Gymnasium classes are taught in a 3,000 sq/ft gymnasium space that features a 1,600 sq/ft sprung floor and a fully rigged 24 foot ceiling. All aerial equipment such as the Aerial Hoop, Spanish Web, aerial silks, static trapeze and more are provided, as well as the equipment for ground skills such as unicycling, juggling, tight wire and gymnastics. Starting Fall Session 2015 additionally classes will be taught in Studio 108, a 900 sq/ft classroom space that features a floating sprung White Oak dance floor, a fully rigged 14 foot ceiling, a handstand wall, conditioning ladders, and room length 12 foot mirrors for aerial work.

About The Actors Gymnasium:
The Actors Gymnasium is dedicated to bringing a new physicality to the American Theatre. Encouraging ground-breaking theatrical exploration, The Actors Gymnasium teaches circus arts, physical theatre and multi-disciplinary performance to children and adults; produces original, daring works of circus-theatre; and serves as a talent resource, providing performance opportunities to our students and innovative professional event entertainment for a wider audience. At The Actors Gymnasium, people Learn To Fly - physically, emotionally, and creatively. For more information, please visit

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