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Redmoon Theater is a Chicago based not-for-profit theatrical company under the direction of Jim Lasko and Frank Maugeri that specializes in site-specific productions, emphasizing visual spectacle, pageantry, elaborate sets, live music, puppetry, and physical theater. Productions are often out of doors, sometimes ticketed, sometimes freely viewable in public spaces. Redmoon also produces shows in traditional venues, and is involved in community projects in Chicago.
Redmoon Theater was founded in 1990 by puppeteer Blair Thomas and choreographer Lauri Macklin, combining movement theater with puppetry. In 1992, Macklin left and Thomas continued on his own until Jim Lasko joined him and combined the impulse to create puppet theater with a commitment to outdoor performance. During this period the team garnered critical praise for their inventive indoor theater productions of classic stories like Moby-Dick and Frankenstein, while beginning to explore how the same theatrical skills could activate outdoor spaces. Mr.Thomas left the theater in 1998, leaving it to Mr. Lasko to continue to build an aesthetic and operation around his vision of using spectacle to bridge difference and transform the ways that people see and understand public spaces. During this period, Redmoon committed to transforming streets, stages, and architectural landmarks with a performance style equal parts pageantry, gadgetry, puppetry, robust physical performance and visual art. In 2009, Mr. Lasko accepted a one year appointment to become the Artist in Residence for the City of Chicago, and, after 13 years of working as an artist and community leader with the organization, Frank Maugeri assumed the role of Artistic Director. A year later, the duo joined forces to co-lead Redmoon as it garnered international attention for its unique productions, site-specific performances, and participatory events—which have been seen across the US, including a 2009 appearance at the White House, and around the globe in Holland, Ireland, France, Australia, and Brazil. Through its vibrant outdoor performances, high-profile collaborations, and genuine community engagement, Redmoon has reached more than 250,000 people in 110 sites throughout 30 Chicago neighborhoods.
See Redmoon: Production History for further details.
For eight years (1995–2002), Redmoon produced All Hallows' Eve, a ritual performance during Halloween in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood that in its final year brought together an audience of over 10,000 in a single evening.
All Hallows' Eve was followed by a trilogy of outdoor performances located in neighborhoods throughout Chicago from 2004–2006. These were:
- 2004 – Sink…Sank…Sunk
- Performed alongside the river of Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown,
- 2005 – Loves Me…Loves Me Not
- Staged for an audience of over 9,000 in the lagoon behind the Museum of Science and Industry's Jackson Park, and
- 2006 – Twilight Orchard
- which offered audiences the opportunity to wander through a delightfully mysterious playground of the imagination nestled in the landscape of the Jens Jensen designed Columbus Park in the Chicago neighborhood of Austin.
In 2007, Redmoon created a large-scale commissioned work for the newly created festival Looptopia, a celebration of culture in downtown Chicago, which featured site installations throughout the Loop with a procession down Washington Street culminating in a performance in Daley Plaza for more than 20,000 spectators.
In 2010, co-produced by Redmoon Theater and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, "The Astronaut's Birthday," a production reminiscent of a graphic novel, was projected onto the west façade of the MCA as audience members watched from the plaza.
Recognized as a Special Events Producer, Redmoon has contributed to such projects as The Millennium Park Opening Ceremony, Art Institute Ground Breaking, the City of Chicago’s Looptopia Festival, and the 2009 Halloween celebrations before the First family, their staff and guests at the White House in Washington, DC.
The company has created theatre productions, community projects and large-scale, site-speciﬁc performances, that have been experienced across Chicago from Belmont Harbor and the Jackson Park Lagoon to the façade of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Redmoon has also worked in traditional theatre venues from the stage of Harris Theater to Steppenwolf. In addition, the company has produced international projects in Holland, Ireland, France, and Australia.
Redmoon has also established an international reputation with artists recently traveling to Holland and Australia creating large-scale outdoor, site-specific public events in addition to this season’s production of Once Upon a Time traveling to the International Puppetry Festival in France; while continuing its community focused arts education programming to children and teachers in Ireland.
With this unique visual language, Redmoon Theater aspires to transform streets and stages into places of public celebration, capable of speaking across cultural, ethnic, and generational boundaries that focuses on contributing to civic well-being and social exchange.
Highly influenced by contemporary art works and ancient theatrical forms, Redmoon Theater has created a performance style that is equal parts pageantry, gadgetry, acrobatics, and ephemera.
The company has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “impossibly inventive” and “full of visual wit,” and described by the Chicago Sun-Times as “one of the only theaters that can keep a 2-year-old and a 50-year-old equally enchanted and filled with wide-eyed wonder.” Working outdoors in public spaces as well as in both established theaters and non-traditional venues, Redmoon blends elements of ritual and symbol, spectacular physical performance and live music with exquisitely crafted objects and machines, producing works of stunning originality that are capable of delighting non-traditional audiences and conventional theater-goers alike.
Since the first Winter Pageant in 1991, Redmoon has received public and critical acclaim for its spectacle productions that tap into the collective memory and imagination of audiences. Through its productions and events Redmoon brings audiences together for transformative experiences.
Through spellbinding original productions and a unique voice that speaks across cultural boundaries, Redmoon draws in Chicagoans like no other theater company. It has gained a national reputation for both its one-of-a-kind visual style and its civic-focused ability to build community through creating unexpected theater events in unexpected places.
Redmoon’s mission extends far beyond its production work, as neighborhood children and community members have been integrated into the artistic process since the company’s early beginnings in Logan Square. Through Neighborhood Arts Programs, Redmoon provides in-depth, art-making experiences to Chicago’s underserved populations via two distinct programs: the Redmoon School Partnership Program, which creates meaningful and effective learning opportunities for students and teachers by integrating spectacle theater into the classroom and the school community; and Dramagirls, which teaches adolescent girls to express themselves through performance and theater-making, enhancing their self-esteem at a critical time in their lives.
It also offers independent classes and workshops in mask making and civic programs for the community, including Dramagirls and the highly successful, nationally recognized Neighborhood Arts Program led by NAP director, Angela Tillges.
Redmoon has always been led by visionary Artistic Director(s) who emphasized a collaborative process of art making. The work is multi-disciplinary and generally includes artists from many fields. Designers, engineers, architects, dancers, acrobats, painters, composers and musicians, videographers, graphic artists, and others make up the collaborative team that create Redmoon's distinct brand of theater.
Redmoon was founded in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago by the performance artist Blair Thomas and choreographer Laurie Macklin. Macklin was soon to leave and Jim Lasko, a theater maker and director, came to join Mr. Thomas. Mr. Lasko become the company's Founding Artistic Director, working alongside Blair Thomas until he left to found Blair Thomas & Company which is committed to "chamber puppet theater". In May, 2009 Mr. Lasko was named Artist in Residence to the City of Chicago's Office of Tourism, Department of Cultural Affairs and he took leave of Redmoon for a two-year period during which Mr. Maugeri acted as Artistic Director. As of January 2011, Mr. Lasko has returned from his stint with The City of Chicago to co-lead Redmoon with Mr. Maugeri.
Governance and funding
Redmoon is operated by a 36 member board of directors and is funded through various avenues including ticket sales and a business arm called Redmoon-For-Hire run by Director of Redmoon For Hire, Alex Balestrieri, which provides customized party entertainment for corporate events, conventions and private client parties. Corporate funding and grant/foundation contributions also provides the not-for-profit with financial assistance. As a result, Redmoon surpassed $1 million in revenue for the first time in 2002.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (October 2009)|
- "Spectacle 2010: The Astronaut's Birthday". Redmoon Theater. Retrieved 2011-07-29.
- Chris Jones (2010-09-10). "'The Astronaut’s Birthday' by Redmoon: Blam! Comic books, rocket ships take over the MCA". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-07-29.