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Witness how amazing Chicago really is!
|One Step at a Time like This i/a/w Chicago Shakespeare presents|
Review by Katy Walsh
Comfortable shoes + Charged cell phone = Urban “Walk-About.” The Melbourne-based one step at a time like this, in conjunction with Chicago Shakespeare Theater, presents En Route. The performing art experience is a vision quest. It starts 24-hours before *show time*. A text to your cell phone reveals where your starting point is. I’m told to be at 400 N. Michigan under the Wrigley clock at 5pm. I will receive a ‘clearly marked’ sign indicating the beginning of my journey. The extraordinary experience is all about putting together clues to move to the next step. The ongoing revelation is part of the phenomena. I intend to give you a taste to whet your appetite but try not to give away the courses. As in life, the anticipation in not knowing is half the excitement and half the intrigue. En Route is unique art on the go!
My preconception for this performing-art-walking-tour was perhaps clowns on a corner, maybe a mime or two in the park, balloon-making street performers? I was ready for whatever. What happened blew me away. I was the star of this one woman show and Chicago was the stage. It takes a visiting performance troupe to remind Chicago how dimensional our city is. Along the river, through an alley, down hotel stairs, up on a roof – in my head, Chicago is fascinating! After gearing up with my handler, I’m on my own. I have an iPod strapped to my arm playing a Chicago-based music soundtrack. In addition to the tunes, poetic voices interject insightful thoughts connected to my locale. The excursion is mapped with a combination of audio directions, cryptic clues, chalk arrows, text hints, a phone call… a grown-up scavenger hunt but there are no physical treasures. The reward is a soulful pause in your hectic lifestyle. It’s an opportunity to take time to smell the concrete. The simple pleasure is wildly profound.
The route is designed for you to go at your leisure. There are moments to sit down and rest. My performance was during rush hour which added to my own self-discovery. Commuters are rushing to their destination and I’m not sure where I’m going next. Primarily alone with the city and my thoughts , there is a powerful moment of human interaction. Instructed to raise my arm in this sea of people, my hand is grabbed by another. I’m whisked across the street by my handler. The sensation stimulates feelings of isolation and community simultaneous. It makes me giddy!
I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this experience. Currently, it’s sold-out. Each performance is designed for fifteen individuals with staggered start times. My experience only overlapped with one other person and only briefly. I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend getting on the waiting list! I heard rumor the Australians are leaving at the end of August but Chicago Shakespeare Theater folks may be trained to be tour guides. Some things aren’t worth the wait, En Route is!
VIDEO SPOILER ALERT: en route reveals itself to each audience member as a personal experience; examining this video and audio below (from the Edinburgh International Festival) may alter your ability to experience the piece as intended by the artists.
The Chicago performances of en route are presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater, one step at a time like this and Richard Jordan Productions, Ltd, in association with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, and continues through August 13th. Exact downtown starting points are determined 24-hours before the performance, which occur Tuesdays through Saturdays, with staggered times from 11-11:20am, 2-2:20pm and 5-5:20pm. Tickets are $35, and can be purchased through the Chicago Shakes box office at 312-595-5600. More information at ChicagoShakes.com. Running Time: One hundred minutes with no intermission
All photos by Eric Y. Exit