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Silent Theater Seeks Voice

It may seem strange that a theater artist obsessed with language decided to create a play that doesn’t use a single word.

However, making theater in Chicago, I’ve noticed that language divides audiences more than it connects them. Chicago is a diverse, vibrant city overflowing with cultures and languages, but our theater scene - an art form that is at its best when it brings strangers together to share a common experience - is only available in one.

That experience of a common experience is at the core of The Story Story, a new wordless theater piece premiering April 16 at The Plagiarists Salon, followed by performances in May as part of The Fable Festival, throughout Chicago and beyond, for English and non English-speaking audiences. What if, by eliminating the need for a common language, one theater piece could communicate with anyone? What if audiences from different backgrounds and cultures, could laugh, wonder, and gasp with delight next to one another?

Well. I think it would be pretty awesome. So I made this play.

I got rid of all those pesky words. I focused on other ways of storytelling: images, gestures, sound and music. Drawing inspiration from wordless picture books, The Story Story uses over 300 meticulously storyboarded images by a team of visual artists, each projected and hand-animated during the live performance. Our silent but articulate narrators are two painstakingly designed and sculpted puppets, each brought to life by her own actor/puppeteer.

Now, all we need is the voice of the play: music. The Story Story uses one continuous, expressive score to do what music does so beautifully: draw us in for quiet moments, stun us with discovery, and ultimately charm us with its beauty. Our vision is clear: neo-classical, building in complexity: a rich, layered sound that will create movement to counter the still images, allow for moments of stillness, and rocket us through the climax of the play.

From the first design meeting through rehearsals and acceptance into festivals and performance venues, The Story Story has been built in true Chicago theater fashion: using all available resources, personal funds, in-kind donations, and through the grace of individual donors. However, this final step, creating and recording the score, is a big one. With your help we can make it.

Funded by Chicago, IL (February 2012)