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Tuesday, April 23

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Theatre Sat Feb 27 2010

Evolution, Creation Share a Stage

evolutioncreation.jpgAt a theater space in Andersonville, thin curtains separate two fantastic, epic tales. On one side, a faceless being's mighty hands create a bright sun, compose a starry sky and plant a fruitful garden. On the other, a cosmic explosion of energy unleashes a daunting galaxy, orbs circle a ball of flaming gas and comets collide. One orchestra plays simultaneously for both, as each side of the curtain tells the same story.

In the beginning, ticket holders at the Quest Theatre Ensemble's "Evolution/Creation" performance are separated into two separate stages. There's no dialogue, just a nine-member orchestra playing an impressive score in between two lowered curtains. As a hymn chorus in Latin is chanted melodically from both sides of the total 18-member cast, both audiences are met with complete darkness.

Creator and director Andrew Park's production is both endearingly awkward and rationally self-aware. It boasts a grade-school-production style of surrealist papier-maché puppetry, mismatched quilted fabrics and exposed curtain ropes and pulleys, giving it a genuine grassroots theater aesthetic.

evolution1.jpgFor example, on the Creation stage, quirky stagehands in hard-hats representing God stumble quickly to lift hand-crafted stars, hang brightly painted clouds and wave short banners with quotes from the book of Genesis in the sky. On the Evolution stage, stagehands hold up a fiery volcano of shiny fabrics; team up and move dinosaur costumes made of strings of lights, and eventually, swing around a cataclysmic comet at the end of a pole to end it all.

Personally, I couldn't help but keep a goofy smile across my face the whole time.

They're charming, abstract tales--the audience switches to the other side of the curtain during intermission to see both interpretations--and told in the only way one can tell both tales on stage: neutrally, respectfully, but not too seriously.

Since 2002, Quest has created17 original productions. Park's 2008 production, "The People's History of the United States," which used similar puppetry aesthetics, was met with high praise. While touring more than 90 schools, retirement communities, churches and local neighborhood festivals, Quest has kept quite a humble dramaturgic disposition in a city known for its large, diverse community of avant-garde theater companies. They are, however, determined to keep their productions free and accessible, which means donations help keep them afloat.

Quest Theatre Ensemble presents "Evolution/Creation" (a Joseph Jefferson Award recommended show) will run until March 28 at the Blue Theatre at St. Gregory the Great, 1609 W. Gregory St. every Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. While admission is free, donations are accepted and reservations are highly recommended. For more information visit their site or call (312) 458-0895.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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