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DCASE Announces New Millennium Park Theatre Series

Celebrating the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, the free series will feature nine local theatre companies performing on select dates from July to October

All the world’s a stage – especially at Millennium Park this summer. The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) recently announced nine new Millennium Park Summer Theatre Residencies as part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre. The free series will feature nine local theatre companies performing throughout Millennium Park on select dates from July to October. The participating companies include: Aguijón Theater Company, Barrel of Monkeys, CircEsteem, Chicago Dance Crash, Chicago Full Moon Jam Productions, Collaboraction Theatre Company, Emerald City Theatre, eta Creative Arts and Free Street Theater.

The companies have been commissioned for one-week residencies and will present site-specific theatre performances that engage the Park’s unique architecture, design and public art – with Wrigley Square, the Great Lawn and Cloud Gate Plaza serving as the stage. For details, visit

“We are very proud to present nine of our city’s most dynamic and diverse theatre companies at Millennium Park, Chicago’s town square,” said DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly. “To truly fall in love with Chicago, you must go to our theatres. This is where the city bares its fearless soul. From Broadway musicals to storefront plays and improv, there’s a seat waiting for you at one of our more than 200 theatres – and, this summer, in Millennium Park.

The Millennium Park Summer Theatre Residencies were made possible by the generosity of the Bayless Family Foundation. Additional support from the Millennium Park Foundation and the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation Endowment at Millennium Park Foundation, in conjunction with the summer-long Family Fun Festival, will help to support theatre programs for families including daily, interactive drama workshops presented by Lookingglass Theatre July 22-26 at Chase Promenade North.

Throughout the summer, Rick Bayless, acclaimed Chicago chef and theatre enthusiast, will host video interviews with the Millennium Park Theatre companies to further showcase what makes each of these companies worth celebrating. “This performance series is all about spotlighting the wildly vibrant and diverse talent here in Chicago,” said Rick Bayless. “To have it hosted in Millennium Park, in all its summertime glory, is just spectacular.”

Millennium Park Summer Theatre Residencies

The Adventures of Peter Rabbit by Emerald City Theatre

July 18–20

The Great Lawn

Adapted by Emerald City artists from Beatrix Potter’s classic tale, this interactive theater experience introduces young audience members to Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck and connects these beloved characters to the backdrop of Millennium Park. Emerald City Theatre celebrates all of Chicago’s children through playful, professional and culturally-relevant artistic programs that motivate young people to creatively face the world. Recommended for families with kids ages 5 and under.

Belly of the Whale by Chicago Dance Crash

July 2627

Location TBD

An excerpt from Dance Crash’s upcoming production Lil Pine Nut, this hip-hop dance scene sees Pinocchio saving his father, Geppetto, after being swallowed by a giant whale. The whale is brought to life through a display of “ribs” jutting out of the Crown Fountain floor. Chicago Dance Crash is an award-winning hip-hop/contemporary dance company known for retelling familiar stories in new and exciting ways. Recommended for families.


July 26–28

Cloud Gate Plaza

CircEsteem’s advanced performance youth troupe will bring the amazement and spectacle of the circus with juggling, acrobatics, clown performance and aerial arts on an 18-foot high aerial rig. The show includes collaborations with Chicago’s various circus schools (Aloft Aerial Circus Arts, MSA Circus Arts and Chicago Wheel JAM) as well as performances by some of Chicago’s most talented professional performers from Ringling Brothers B&B Circus, Midnight Circus and more. CircEsteem unites youth from diverse backgrounds and helps them build self esteem and mutual respect through the practice and performance of circus arts. Recommended for families.

Barrel of Monkeys

August 5–10

South Boeing Gallery & Cloud Gate Plaza

Inspired by the beautiful surroundings of Millennium Park, writers of all ages are invited to work with Barrel of Monkey teachers in a series of one-hour writing workshops. Follow the creation of this production from start to finish as the actors bring these stories to life through hilarious sketches, songs and dance presented in an open dress rehearsal and final public performance.  Barrel of Monkeys is an ensemble of actor/educators who create an alternative learning environment for children to share their personal voices and celebrate the power of their imaginations. Recommended for families with kids ages 7 to 17.

La gran tirana: Descarga teatral (The Great Tyrant: A Theatrical Descarga) by Aguijón Theater Company

August 13, 14 & 17

Wrigley Square

Inspired by the artistry and fascinating life story of Lupe Victoria Yolí Raymond, better known as La Lupe, the undisputed Queen of Latin Soul, this performance piece is an exploration of the artist in exile and how music connects her to her homeland. Aguijón Theater, Chicago’s longest-running Latino theater company, is dedicated to creating exciting and meaningful theatrical experiences through the cultural exploration, discussion and performance of Spanish-language and bilingual works.

I Protest by eta Creative Arts Foundation

September 16–21

Chase Promenade South

Composers, designers and directors from eta Creative Arts Foundation will work with young artists to give voice to moments from their own lives and find community in advocacy through video production filmed throughout Millennium Park. eta Creative Arts Foundation has enriched the lives of people on the south side of Chicago and throughout the world with the magic of theater, music, dance and visual arts.

The Moonlight Parade by the Chicago Full Moon Jam

September 17, 19 & 21

Cloud Gate Plaza

In an epic performance featuring fire dancing, circus arts, drumming and multimedia visuals, heroine Luna realizes that the power to overcome great obstacles exists in each of us – and is an unstoppable force when combined with others. The Full Moon Jam is in its 15th year bringing together a diverse community of fire performers, dance troupes, musicians and spectators from around the world at volunteer-run, free-to-attend gatherings that take place monthly throughout the summer.

The Book of Peace by Collaboraction Theatre Company

October 4–6

Cloud Gate Plaza

Collaboraction presents a collection from its 2019 Peacebook Festival and other “Best of” performances, including original theatre, dance and spoken word about peace, created by a diverse line-up of some of Chicago’s top artist-activists. Collaboraction incites social change through original devised theatre and community engagement that cultivate knowledge, dialogue and action around Chicago’s most critical social issues. Each performance of Book of Peace will also include music, audience interaction and a Crucial Conversation about building peace and equity in Chicago.

Still/Here: Manifestos for Joy and Survival by Free Street Theater

October 6–12

Cloud Gate Plaza

Created by a multi-racial, multi-generational ensemble representative of Chicago’s diversity, this performance is an interactive and exuberant celebration of the city. The performance will invite the audience to consider what the past tell us about the future of Chicago and to imagine the city will be – five years from now, fifty years from now, even five hundred years from now. Celebrating its 50th season, Free Street Theater has been at the forefront of the movement to create affordable, inclusive and innovative theater in communities across Chicago using public performance as a tool to challenge Chicago’s racial and economic segregation.

Family Fun Festival and Lookingglass Theater

June 24–August 9

Family Fun Tent–Chase Promenade North

The Family Fun Festival presented by Millennium Park Foundation is partnering with Lookingglass Theater as part of the Year of Chicago Theatre and making the Park the place to be for kids of all ages. Every day, between June 24 and August 9 from 10 am and 2 pm, the festival will offer family performances and hands-on activities. Lookingglass Theater will be a weekly partner from July 22 to July 26 with a variety of workshops including puppet and mask crafts which children will then incorporate in an interactive drama workshop. This imaginative play allows children to explore tools of actors – the body, mind, and voice. Lookingglass Theater plans to engage children in different ensemble-based games and face painting. The Family Fun Festival is grant-supported by Lloyd A. Fry Foundation and presented by Millennium Park Foundation in partnership with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Visitors to Millennium Park are also invited to interact with a special Year of Chicago Theatre public art activation by scenic designer, Eleanor Kahn. The work is comprised of a skeletal series of mirrors and doorways with a playful interior, to be installed at Cloud Gate Plaza in July. Guests are invited to open doors and travel through a maze that constantly shifts their interior perspective, reframes their view of the outside world with shape and color – and go on their own adventure. A Hot Tix booth will be onsite on key dates, offering half-price tickets to a wide variety of Chicago theatre productions.

Just halfway through the year, DCASE and the League of Chicago Theatres have already accomplished many things on behalf of Chicago’s 200+ theatres – having secured $1 million in new foundation support; offering more financial grants to theatre projects; the launch of a new theatre asset mapping project aimed at bolstering theatre on the South, Southwest and West Sides; a major advertising campaign and global media events; strategic partnerships; theatre-themed cultural programming at Millennium Park (film series, theatre series), the Chicago Cultural Center (exhibitions, special events), the Chicago Riverwalk (Art on theMART, lantern processions), and in all 77 community areas as part of the Chicago Park District’s ‘Night Out in the Parks’ series; and more. Over 100 arts industry volunteers are serving on committees to advance this important initiative.

Promotional and programming support for the Year of Chicago Theatre is provided by Art on theMART, Chicago Loop Alliance, Choose Chicago, HMS Media, Illinois Restaurant Association, LUMA8, The Magnificent Mile Association, Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and others—plus many City departments and sister agencies including the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Transit Authority and Department of Aviation.

The Year of Chicago Theatre follows the success of 2017 and 2018 initiatives celebrating Chicago’s public art and its creative youth. The mission of the Year of Chicago Theatre is to make 2019 a year in which the city emphasizes the prominence of its expansive and innovative theatre industry.

For more information about the Year of Chicago Theatre, visit and join the conversation on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) @ChicagoDCASE and @ChicagoPlays (#2019isYOCT #ChiTheatre).

2019 Year of Chicago Theatre

The City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres have designated 2019 as the ‘Year of Chicago Theatre.’ This citywide, year-long focus on theatre is the first of its kind in the U.S. The initiative includes performances and special events for the public at hundreds of cultural venues, theaters, parks and neighborhood locations throughout the city. The City of Chicago and its partners will also launch a marketing campaign; provide additional financial grants to theatre projects; encourage dialog around inclusion and equity; and call on civic, philanthropic, arts and business leaders to support the theatre community. To truly fall in love with Chicago, you must go to our theatres. This is where the city bares its fearless soul. From Broadway musicals to storefront plays and improv, there’s a seat waiting for you at one of our 200+ theatres. Book your next show today at

League of Chicago Theatres

Theatre is essential to the life of a great city and to its citizens. The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theatres which leverages its collective strength to support, promote and advocate for Chicago’s theatre industry. Through our work, we ensure that theatre continues to thrive in our city.  For a comprehensive list of Chicago productions, visit the League of Chicago Theatres website,

Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.

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