Get Ready for the Windy City's Newest Theatre Fest - StageLync

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Get Ready for the Windy City’s Newest Theatre Fest


Chicago Circus & Performing Arts Festival, the Windy City’s newest multidisciplinary fest, will run from March 9-12, 2023, at Wicker Park’s Den Theatre on 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. Twelve unique performances from Chicago-based companies will be featured in the initial line-up, from traditional circus acts to avant-garde sideshow and burlesque offerings, family-friendly juggling and clowning shows, and queer-themed work, plus several evening-length pieces that also include dance.

 The Opening Gala is on March 9, from 6:00-10:00 p.m. and includes vendor tables from local businesses and Chicago circus schools, as well as door prize giveaways and a silent auction. Exclusive previews for the media and donors will be performed throughout the night. The Wicker Park’s Den Theatre lobby will feature cashless cocktails from the newly renovated Haven Lounge before and after the performances.



The Amazing Prizzini Brothers’ Circus Cabinet of Wonder: The Amazing Prizzini Brothers’ classic circus cabaret features family-friendly circus acts and clowning with a simple goal: to make the audience complicit in the mischief. 

 Autobiography of a Late Bloomer: The Lucid Banter Project presents Autobiography of a Late Bloomer,a collection of work created over a span of 15 years and following the choreographer’s coming-out journey. Following Paula, the Lucid Banter Project’s director, through professional growth, family drama, religious realizations, sexual awakenings, relationship highs and lows, injury, and emotional abuse, the audience is brought along through the experiences, emotions, and growth of a late bloomer lesbian.

 BIPOC Circus Alliance Midwest Showcase: This circus cabaret features circus artists of Color as they share individual stories that depict human emotions and the unique challenges faced by POC in contemporary America. Disciplines will include rope, straps, aerial hammock, diabolo, and silks. For ages 13+. 

 The Back Side Show: Produced by Yes Ma’am Circus, the Back Side Show features burlesque, sideshow, and variety acts from around Chicago. For ages 18+. 

Circus Dungeon Crawl: Come see Yes Ma’am Circus’ longest-running cabaret—the Circus Dungeon Crawl, previously only shown to the elite crowd of gamers at GenCon in Indianapolis—in its Chicago debut! Journey with Marcus the Bard as they attempt to drink, seduce, and thieve their way through the Multiverse, alongside a cast of aerialists, clowns, and burlesque dancers.

Creature Double Feature: The Creature Double Feature brings you not one, but TWO new works by Such Creatures Co-Directors Luke Greeff & Ashaand Simone. “Missile Kid” by Luke Greeff shows a punk-rock apocalyptic horror movement suite on unmasking the Autistic soul within the confines of an Allistic world … or a dancey existential crisis set to good tunes… you decide. “intimate you-niverse” by Ashaand Simone transports the audience into an 8-bit arcade world where they’re in charge of helping the protagonist’s disparate parts work towards some amount of peace. In doing so, they will learn firsthand what it looks like to re-wire the brain away from the impacts of (Complex) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and towards acceptance of intimacy and connection.

“Distillations” & “Don’t Try This At Home”Double Feature: This family-friendly double feature starts us with a solo contemporary juggling show performed by Luther Bangert. “Distillations” takes the audience on a multimedia, multidimensional journey through the anatomy of a moment, investigating causality, and emerging into the ground state of the juggling universe. Dinder Brother’s Circus is proud to present the “DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!!!” show. Seen across the midwest since 2015, this blend of circus, magic, and danger is sure to entertain anyone ages four and up!  With mystifying aerials, feats of death, and astounding illusions, everyone will find something they enjoy.

“Poised” & “The Reluctant Mind Reader”Double Feature: A funny and dazzling one-man duo show! Welcome to an experience that aims to have you question the absolute limits of what is humanly possible. Brought to you by one of Chicago’s top jugglers, “Poised” is a family-friendly show full of laughs and amazing feats of balance and coordination. Then stay and watch as someone with the ability to read minds shows off his powers while talking about the pains and annoyances that come with always hearing what people are thinking. “The Reluctant Mind Reader” showcases how some gifts aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.

Serious Cirque: Serious Cirque is a not-so-serious deconstruction of contemporary circus performance. It transparently and unabashedly reveals the hilarity, fails, successes, and discoveries that come out of circus creation. What happens when Siri tries to third-wheel your adagio duet opener? What if the duo trapeze porter loses his flyer and must perform only with sock puppets? 

“And They Were Shipmates: A Queer Pirate Romance Adventure” & “Queer Dance Freakout”Queer Double Feature: First, Counterfeit Combat presents us with a gay pirate show full of fights and fun that you can’t miss! Join us aboard Calico Jack’s shipThe Ranger as we follow the tale of the infamous female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read. This occasionally true story based on historical facts will have you laughing, sighing, and gasping, oh aye! Then stick around for “Queer Dance Freakout,” an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure spectacle produced by Gender Fucked Productions. This company of queer, trans, and nonbinary choreographers and storytellers will perform up to 30 dances that will have audiences booty-shaking, grooving, and connecting with the queer community.


 Thursday, March 9

Heath Mainstage & Lobby: 

6:00-10:00 p.m. Opening Gala: Show previews for media and donors, silent auction, local vendors.

Friday, March 10

Bookspan Stage: 

6:00-7:30 p.m. Creature Double Feature by Such Creatures (circus + dance fusion, queer-themed)

7:45-9:15 p.m. BIPOC Circus Alliance Midwest (classic circus cabaret, all BIPOC cast)

9:30-11:00 p.m. The Back Side Show by Yes Ma’am Circus (side-show, burlesque, circus, ages 18+)

Saturday, March 11 

Bookspan Stage: 

12:45-2:15 p.m. Distillations & Don’t Try This At Home- Double Feature by Luther Bangert & Dinder Brothers’ Circus (juggling solo show, family circus troop, side-show, family-friendly)

2:30-4:00 p.m. Double Feature- Poised & The Reluctant Mind Reader by Raphael Entertainment (solo juggling + solo magic, family-friendly)

4:15- 5:45 p.m. BIPOC Circus Alliance Midwest (classic circus cabaret, all BIPOC cast)

6:00-7:30 p.m. Autobiography of a Late Bloomer by Lucid Banter Project (dance, queer-themed, ages 13+)

7:45-9:15 p.m. Circus Dungeon Crawl by Yes Ma’am Circus (circus cabaret, burlesque, nerd-themed, ages 18+)

9:30-11:00 p.m. Queer Double Feature: And They Were Shipmates, A Queer Pirate Romance Adventure & Queer Dance Freakout by Counterfeit Combat & Gender Fucked Productions

Sunday, March 12 

Heath Mainstage: 

10:30 am-12:00 p.m. Serious Cirque by Duo Refraction+ (circus, clown, family-friendly)

12:15-1:45 p.m. Circus Cabaret of Wonder by the Amazing Prizzini Brothers (classic circus cabaret, clowning, family-friendly)

Bookspan Stage: 

12:15-1:45 p.m. Double Feature- Poised & The Reluctant Mind Reader by Raphael Entertainment (solo juggling + solo magic, family-friendly)

2:00-3:30 p.m. Distillations & Don’t Try This At Home- Double Feature by Luther Bangert & Dinder Brothers’ Circus (juggling solo show, family circus troop, side-show, family-friendly)


Single tickets are $15-40 and are available online or at 773-697-3830. Metered street parking is available near Wicker Park’s Den Theatre, and the apps ParkChicago, Spot Hero, Park Whiz, and Parq Ex are recommended as means to help secure a spot. The venue is also accessible to the Blue Line (north of Division, south of Damen stops) and via various bus routes. The Festival’s media sponsors are The Actors Gymnasium and CircusTalk.

Images shared by Amancay C.T. Kugler

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