Tuesday, January 15, 2019


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

JANUARY 17-27, 2019

Here at ChiIL Live Shows and ChiIL Mama, we've covered every biennial season of The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, that rocks Chi, IL every other year. I'll be back out for 2019, reviewing in person at the puppet fest kick-off at The Studebaker Theater this Thursday. 

Ajijaak on Turtle Island, co-directed by Heather Henson, daughter of legendary puppeteer Jim Henson, and Grammy Award winner
Ty Defoe, is a fabulous, family friendly First Nations spectacle.

Studebaker Theater
In Chicago's Fine Arts Building
410 S. Michigan Avenue

This amazing new work brings together an ensemble of Native American performers to tell the tale of Ajijaak, a young whooping crane who must face her first migration cycle on Turtle Island
(North America) after being separated from her family.

Puppets from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™, indigenous songs and dances and video projections create a transformative experience that honors contemporary Native American cultures and illustrates the harmonious relationships between humans, animals and the environment.

This Saturday I'll be reviewing 3 or 4 more puppet picks including 

Chambre Noir at 2pm, 

Papercut at 9pm 

and Nasty, Brutish and Short at 11pm. 

Thursday the 24th I'll be out to review L’après-midi d’un foehn Version 1 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater's The Yard. 

Check back with us like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often, for our top puppet picks, Chicago entertainment news, reviews, interviews, and ticket giveaways! ChiILMama.com (family friendly) and ChiILLiveShows.com (adult) are your ticket to fun. 

The 3rd Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is just two days away, boasting a wildly diverse line-up of contemporary puppet acts and artists from Chicago, the U.S. and around the world at venues large and small throughout the city, January 17-27, 2019.

Founded to establish Chicago as a center for the advancement of the art of puppetry, the citywide Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival will present more than 100 performances of 24 shows and events from 10 countries at 19 different Chicago-area venues.

Following are the latest schedule updates, including new artists and opening acts, newly added performances for several presentations that are already sold out, and the final schedule for the free Festival Neighborhood Tour.

Visit the festival website, ChicagoPuppetFest.org, to purchase tickets and learn more about this world pageant of puppet artists and shows for residents and visitors to experience January 17-27: 11 days when Chicago will reign as the puppetry capital of the world:

The Pigeoning
By Robin Frohardt
Friday, January 18 - Saturday, January 19
Instituto Cervantes de Chicago, 31 W. Ohio St., Chicago
January 18 and 19: Friday at 5 p.m.; Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Tickets: $20/$15 students and Cervantes members
For ages 4 and up
Run time: 60 minutes

Obsessed with cleanliness and order, Frank is also plagued by pigeons. Convinced the pigeons are plotting against him, Frank sets out on an adventure to solve a problem that perhaps isn’t really there? The Pigeoning is a comedic yet heartfelt story that spins articulate puppetry, original music, and lo-fi special effects into an epic tale about the illusion of safety and control in the context of the end of the world. A show The New York Times called a “tender, fantastical symphony of the imagination” and “exquisitely rendered, very funny.”

Known for her rich aesthetic and highly detailed constructions, Robin Frohardt is an award-winning artist, puppet designer and director living in Brooklyn, NY. Frohardt has a knack for taking a simple premise to an elaborate realization. Her rich imagination, unique sense of humor and stunning technical craft come together to create work that defies the conventions of traditional storytelling. robinfrohardt.com

*Note: The Pigeoning replaces JoJo by Borja Ytuquepintas. Dates, times and ticket prices remain the same.

Suspended Animation
The Huber Marionettes
Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., Chicago
January 25-27: Friday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 11 a.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $20/$15 students
Run Time: 45 minutes
For ages 8 and up

Emmy award-winning master and the puppeteer behind Being John Malkovich, Phillip Huber, brings a stunning range of marionettes in this sophisticated performance praised as “a marvel” by the Los Angeles Times. The Huber Marionettes' incredible, complex puppets and manipulations are famed around the world. Sure to delight all audiences and to surprise even the most knowledgeable puppet fans.

An internationally recognized “artist with marionettes,” Phillip Huber is most widely known for his work in the 3-time Academy Award nominated film Being John Malkovich. His performance as “China Girl” is featured in the Disney film Oz the Great and Powerful staring James Franco, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis. In the contemporary art world Phillip created a special rock opera performance piece Don’t Trust Anyone over Thirty in collaboration with concept artists Dan Graham and video artist Tony Ousler for performances in Miami, Berlin, Vienna and Minneapolis Contemporary Art Museum venues, plus an art installation for the Whitney Biennale 2006 in New York. Phillip’s production of Suspended Animation has been seen worldwide with theatrical tours in Japan, France, Chile, Israel, Switzerland, South Korea, Norway, Spain, Brazil, Ireland and Portugal. hubermarionettes.com

*Note: Suspended Animation replaces the previously announced Pinocchio from Teatro del Drago. Dates, times and ticket prices remain the same.


Shank's Mare
Just Added! Friday, January 18 at 2:30 p.m.
(Sold-out: January 17-19: Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.)
Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave. Stock Exchange Trading Room
Tickets: $35; $30 students and Art Institute members
Run Time: 80 minutes
For ages 8 and up

Presented on the occasion of the exhibition Painting the Floating World:
Ukiyo-e Masterpieces from the Weston Collection, Shank’s Mare is a collaborative puppet performance by American puppet artist Tom Lee and Japanese traditional puppeteer Koryu Nishikawa V. This beautifully detailed production combines traditional kuruma ningyo puppetry, live video projection of miniature sets and a haunting score on hammered dulcimer, Japanese shamisen, and flute to tell the story of two wandering travelers whose paths intersect in time and space. This performance is supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Artstour Program.

Tabletop Tragedies
Just Added! Saturday, January 26 at 2 p.m.
(Sold-out: January 24-26: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.)
By Cabinet of Curiosity (Chicago)
Links Hall, Studio B, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago
Tickets: $20/$15 students and seniors
For ages 12 and up
Run time: 85 minutes

Tabletop Tragedies is a triptych of works by Chicago’s Frank Maugeri with longtime collaborator Seth Bockley —The Last Matador, The Death and Life of Billy The Kid, and A Simple Soul. These irreverent, imaginative and affecting works, scored by Liz Chidester, tell true stories of fate and redemption using an astonishing range of techniques including hand-carved wooden puppets, beastly masks, haunting music and an epic Wild West chase scene performed on paper scrolls.

L’après-midi d’un foehn Version 1
New show added! Sunday, January 27 at 5:30 p.m.
(Already announced: January 23-27: Wednesday-Friday at 6:30 p.m.; Saturday at 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.)
By Compagnie Non Nova (France)
Created by Phia Ménard
Co-presented with Chicago Shakespeare Theater
The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
Tickets: $25
Run time: 30 minutes
For all ages

Prepare to be blown away! France’s Compagnie Non Nova takes an ordinary object—a flimsy plastic shopping bag—and transforms it into something magical. Anthropomorphized plastic figures take flight buffeted on invisible waves as a performer manipulates them with precise, complex choreography, creating an intoxicating visual ballet out of the everyday. The Guardian called L’après-midi d’un foehn Version 1 “A brilliant metaphor of art and the imagination,” while Express U.K. raved it’s “the best use of the derided plastic bag ever seen.


Visiting artist Jeghetto has a new opening act: Chicago puppeteer Sam Lewis with A Puppet Day in America, featuring his puppet Jus Hambone: unjust stereotype from the past turned contemporary lens. This short work is a collaboration with Chicago artist Marvin Tate, tap dancer Time Brickey, and performers Jennifer Ligaya and Aquil Charlton. 

Just Another Lynching
By Jeghetto (North Carolina)
With newly added opening act A Puppet Day in America by Sam Lewis (Chicago)
Links Hall, Studio B, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago
Saturday, January 20 at 4 p.m. is sold out
Tickets remain for Saturday, January 19, 7 p.m. & Sunday, January 20, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $20/$15 students/seniors
Run time: 45 minutes plus post-performance conversation
For ages 12 and up

Just Another Lynching features puppets built by Jeghetto, who created this fictional story about a black man being lynched in the South in 1921. This story addresses the racial injustices that built this country. Due to its content, there is an open dialogue between the cast and audience after each performance.

Puppeteers announced 
for Immaculate, Poignant & Medium Length

Immaculate, Poignant & Medium Length (Chicago)
Presented by Rough House and Links Hall
Links Hall, Studio B, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago
January 21-23: Monday through Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $20; $15 students/seniors
Run time: 90 minutes
For ages 12 and up

Chicago is a haven for grown-from-the-ground-up puppetry, thanks to the energy and dedication of local producers, audiences, and the artistic community at large. Come catch a rare look at four respected Chicago area innovators' medium-length works in a casual, conversational environment meant to get artists and audiences mingling, featuring:

Crosstalk by Myra Su and Tatsu Aoki

The Distant Flight of Birds by Forte Chicago

Suji created and performed by Rika Lin and Tom Lee

Behold Where Stands the Usurper’s Cursed Head, performed and originated by Samuel Taylor, written by Mickle Maher, and presented by Cabinet of Curiosity.

Free Festival Neighborhood Tour dates, times and locations:

This year the Chicago Puppet Festival’s Free Festival Neighborhood Tour will bring free performances of The Beginning of Nothing by Poncili Creación (Puerto Rico) and Pulcinella by Gaspare Nasuto (Italy) - to every corner of the city. Following are the six neighborhood locations, complete with show dates and times:

Sweet Water Foundation in Englewood/Washington Park, 5749 S. Perry Ave., Chicago
Friday, January 18 at 1:30 p.m.
sweetwaterfoundation.com or (312) 508-3982

Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, 4048 W. Armitage, Chicago
Saturday, January 19 at 2 p.m.
segundoruizbelvis.org or (773) 698-6004

Garfield Park Conservatory, Horticulture Hall, 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago
Wednesday, January 23 at 4:30 p.m.
garfieldconservatory.org or (312) 746-5100

Marquette Park, 6743 S. Kedzie Ave., Chicago
Friday, January 25 at 5 p.m.
chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks/Marquette-Park or (312) 747-6469

Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago in the Crystal Garden
Saturday, January 26 at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
navypier.org or (312) 595-7437

Experimental Station in Woodlawn, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave., Chicago
Sunday, January 27 at 11 a.m. (doors open at 10:30 a.m.)
experimentalstation.org or (312) 241-6044

Tour performances are family friendly and for all ages. Tickets are free. Reserve online at chicagopuppetfest.org or first come, first served. Each show runs 40-45 minutes. Audiences are invited to sample shows, meet the artists after each performance, or share a full day of puppetry. The Festival Neighborhood Tour is presented in partnership with the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks series and Navy Pier.

The Raffaello Hotel, 201 E. Delaware Place in downtown Chicago, is the Official Hotel of the 3rd Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. In addition to serving as home base for all visiting artists, the Raffaello is offering a discounted rate of $89/night, January 17-27, for the festival’s growing base of fans worldwide, as well as Chicago-area residents looking for a Chicago Puppet Festival “Staycation.” Visit chicagoraffaello.com or call (877) 874-4253 to inquire. Use promo code PUPT.

The festival website, chicagopuppetfest.org, is your online gateway information and tickets to this world pageant of top puppet artists and shows. Sign up on the website to be the first to receive important festival updates. Track the festival hashtag, #ChiPuppetFest, like the festival on Facebook, or follow the festival on Twitter at @ChiPuppetFest or on Instagram.

Blair Thomas, Founder and Artistic Director, Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Credit: Saverio Truglia

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