Line-Up Announced for Fourth Annual Physical Festival Chicago 

Line-Up Announced for Fourth Annual Physical Festival Chicago 

Pictured: WOTJEK: The Happy Warrior by The Quarter Too Ensemble. Photo courtesy of Physical Festival Chicago. 

Physical Festival Chicago has announced the line-up for the fourth annual event which includes nine days of group performances, solo artists and master classes. 

The five companies and solo artists featured this year are: Portmanteau (Chicago), Frank Wurzinger (Germany), Theatre de l’Ange Fou (France/US), Teatteri Metamofoosi (Finland/Switzerland/Italy), and The Quarter Too Ensemble (UK). The Festival will also feature a Scratch Night, a preview of what’s next in Chicago’s physical theater scene, and seven professional Master Classes with the visiting artists. 

Created by Alice da Cunha and Marc Frost, the festival draws upon their combined experience in physical theater as students at the London International School for the Performing Arts. According to the press release, the festival strives to promote a progressive, fresh and physical approach to theater making in Chicago, while following in the tradition of such great European theater festivals as the London International Mime Festival (LIMF) and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to name a few.

2017 PHYSICAL FESTIVAL SCHEDULE (from the press release): 

Friday-Sunday June 2-4
7 PM – “Memory of Dust” by Theatre de l’Ange Fou (France/US)
This latest duet by masters of corporeal mime Corinne Soum and Steven Wasson is a modernist fable on the enduring connections of two souls. Letters, words, poems, and paper weave a timeless map on which a woman encounters the shadows of her life. This work is a dialogue between Etienne Decroux’s piece “La Meditation” and the world of the Theatre de l’Ange Fou. “Memory of Dust” is a voyage evoking the tragic and absurd moments of destiny in a dream atmosphere punctuated by humor and derision: a portrait of the ‘unknown familiar’.

9 PM – “The Confetti Maker” by Frank Wurzinger (Germany)
“The Confetti Maker” is a day in the life of a full-time confetti factory worker. Full of optimism, he pursues his profession: making confetti. He cuts, perforates, and shreds all day, every day. But he has ambitions, dreams and fears far beyond the mundane factory life: romance, love, family… “The Confetti Maker” is a highly visual clown performance. It combines slapstick, puppetry, absurd storytelling, improvisation and, of course, lots of small bits of paper, which are expertly woven into a humorous, yet poignant show. Directed by award winning physical theatre director John Wright (“Trestle”, “Told by an Idiot”), supported by the Arts Council England and Jackson’s Lane.

Monday June 5
7 PM – Scratch Night
We give local theater companies ten minutes to show what they are working on. Come take a look behind the curtain and witness what’s next in Physical Theater.

Tuesday-Wednesday June 6-7
7 PM – “Mariposa Nocturna: A Puppet Triptych” by Portmanteau (Chicago)
A child’s wish to a Guatemalan folk saint for her dying grandmother to have “a happy sleep” results in a bawdy, Japanese shadow-dream. A pair of bird-headed spinsters suddenly find themselves custodians of a large, glowing egg. A lonely toy carriage embarks upon a jaunty odyssey in search of buried dreams. Employing handcrafted tabletop and shadow puppets, featuring original music and stop-motion film, and showcasing precise, artful manipulation, “Mariposa Nocturna” explores loss, longing and rebirth in this gently humorous, darkly beautiful and emotionally resonant production. Conceived and created by Stephanie Díaz and directed by Jessica Mondres with original music by Barry Bennett and film by Mondres.

Thursday-Saturday June 8-10
7 PM – “Wojtek: The Happy Warrior” by The Quarter Too Ensemble (UK)
“Wojtek: The Happy Warrior” is a playful imagining based on the unbelievable true story of Private Wojtek; a Syrian Brown Bear who was enlisted into the Polish Army during WWII. Wojtek (translation: happy warrior) lived with his Polish soldier comrades in the Middle East and eventually saw action with his Artillery Company at the battle of Monte Cassino. Wojtek eventually travelled to Scotland with his unit after the war in search of a new life. After camping in Palestine, going to war in Europe and living in the border territory of Scotland, Wojtek spent the end of his life as a resident of the Edinburgh Zoo. Through ensemble storytelling, live music and playful physical theatre, The Quarter Too Ensemble brings true events to life that highlight the nature of friendship and empathy against the chaos of war.

9 PM – “Anatomy of Fear” by Teatteri Metamofoosi (Finland/Switzerland/Italy)
“Anatomy of Fear” is a visually stunning performance that explores the fear of failure using physical theatre, puppetry, video art, live music, and visual references to Francis Bacon’s paintings. Actor and director Davide Giovanzana places himself on the stage with a human-sized puppet manipulated by two puppeteers and uses his personal life experience as the catalyst of the show. The performance explores how fear shapes individual personality as well as how it influences collective behavior.

Master Classes:
During the day, the Festival will offer Master Classes in various aspects of physical theater taught by the visiting artists. All the Master Classes will start at 10 am and will take place at Stage 773.

Monday, June 5
The Art of Modern Movement Theatre: A Spontaneous Language, an Elaborate Craft
Taught by Steven Wasson and Corinne Soum, Theatre de l’Ange Fou (France/US)
This study will include gestural grammar, body articulation, counterweights, walks and displacement in space, figures of style, mobile statuary, and musicality of movement. Extracts of the repertoire of Etienne Decroux will be taught during the workshop to fully experience this unique modern mythology of movement theatre. Participants will also explore the infinite possibilities of drawing from this repertoire to create personal work. Steven Wasson and Corinne Soum combine the experience of having been students and assistants of Etienne Decroux and having taught developed and directed Corporeal Mime for more than 30 years.

Tuesday, June 6
Clown- Play and Presence
Taught by Frank Wurzinger (Germany)
Clowns might be simple and truthful or outrageously and joyfully over the top and always play with a sense of pleasure. We are looking for ways of staying optimistic and finding the game in the worst situations. Through a series of movement exercises and games we liberate ourselves from blocks and inhibitions to find the freedom to be ourselves and play with anything. We explore the edge of what is acceptable. How do we individually make people laugh? When does comedy become tragedy? What are potential taboos?

Wednesday, June 7
Red Nose Workshop
Taught by Marc Frost and Paul Kalina
The Red Nose workshop allows students to experience the “Clown State”, a profound state of being that leads performers to a greater sense of truth, listening, emotional depth and unbridled play. Students will learn how to harness the power of breath, silence and physical gesture to create a robust stage presence and connection to the present moment without the inner critic. Paul Kalina is an associate professor of movement studies and the Head of Acting at the University of Iowa. A founding member of the Chicago physical theatre company, 500 Clown, he performed their shows throughout the United States and England including PS 122 in New York, Steppenwolf Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre and the State Theatre in New Jersey. Marc Frost is an actor, deviser, educator and Chicago native who has performed and produced work in Brazil, Ireland, Spain, the USA and the UK, and is the co-founder of Physical Festival Chicago.

Thursday June 8
Ensemble Theatre Creation and Storytelling
Taught by Glenn Tillin and Kitty Myer, The Quarter Too Ensemble (UK)
In this workshop students will explore The Quarter Too Ensemble’s particular approach to creating and devising work. In this active session they will experience their collaborative approach to storytelling. This workshop intends to give insight into their process and offers an opportunity to develop your skills in collaborative devising physical theatre. Participants should wear loose clothing, bare feet and be prepared to move.

Friday, June 9
Fear and the Body
Taught by Davide Giovanzana of Teatteri Metamofoosi (Finland/Switzerland/Italy)
In this workshop we explore fears that haunt participants’ lives in the context of the body using physical theatre exercises. The emphasis is on how these fears are usually hidden and how they define our decisions and actions. The workshop is connected to the methodology which was developed for and used to device the performance “Anatomy of Fear.”

Festival passes are $45-$60 and tickets for individual shows are $12-$18; they can be purchased online at

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