Monday, December 28, 2015

An Era Eclipsed: In Tribute to Redmoon Theatre

On December 21st, 2015, a day that usually signifies brighter days to come, TimeOut Chicago released an article stating that, after confirming with artistic director Jim Lasko, that Redmoon Theatre would be closing their doors and ceasing operations.

For those who do not know, Redmoon Theatre had been in operation for 25 years, performing spectacle theatre works both in their own theatre space and in the Chicago public at large. Their mission:

"Redmoon's mission is to transform the experience of our city through free large- scale theatrical events that promote community, creativity, and an empowered democracy."

While they had many events at their theatre space, like Boneshaker and Lunatique, that could cost upwards of $100.00 to attend, they used that money to bring the art of spectacle and wonder to lower income neighborhoods and to employ local artists in their work.

But this blog will be about what Redmoon Theatre meant to me.

I was a freshman in college when I became involved with the company. They were putting together the closing spectacle for The Manifest Festival at Columbia College Chicago and they needed volunteers. Naturally, because I am a horrible auditioner, I volunteered. Figured I could get some performance experience and build up my resume. It was a very physical audition, but even my lack of ability to dance did not dissuade the director of the piece and casting director at Redmoon, Alex Balestrieri. Indeed, Alex being excited to see me there (even if it was only because he was excited to see everyone) and the fact that he genuinely valued my participation and work meant a lot to me.

I continued to be involved with Redmoon. I was usually a last minute performer who would get a text from Alex a week or so before the show, arrive at call time, get into costume, do a quick runthrough of what I was meant to do, and then perform the thing in front of audience members. Eventually, I began to get paid for doing this work, but I would happily give back my paychecks if it meant Redmoon could still be here, delighting audiences. I was part of the Open Doors Gala, I did three or four Lunatiques, I was in three Boneshaker events, a New Year's Revolution, and, what was probably my most memorable experience, the 2013 Winter Pageant.

In this performance, Redmoon had teamed up with the Happiness Club, Kalapriya Center for Indian Performing Arts, the Pineapple Dance Studio, Indonesian Dance of Illinois, and the band San Andreas Fault. With this collaboration, through frustration and compromises, came a beautiful story told through dance, masks, music, shadow puppetry, and just plain spectacle about a Pigeon and Dove sent on a quest to retrieve the light stolen by the evil Raven. It was a simple story told through extravagant means using multi-cultural influences and is one the most influential theatrical experiences I had ever been a part of.

I worked with Redmoon on and off for about 4 years. They became an integral part of my life in Chicago as I attended their Thanksgiving and Holiday parties they held for the staff and people who had been involved with them. I had hoped that eventually, I would be able to work my way up to being one of the more featured performers, like a table lady or one of the opera singers in the cages. (Also, try and explain that to people out of context. Seriously).

I don't really have the words for how much this saddens me. Redmoon became, in a sense, like a home base and a family I could turn to here in Chicago. I know the Chicago theatre scene is forever changed, but I am not able to speak to that. Just... Thank you Redmoon. Thank you for everything you've done for the community and for me. And if I was given three wishes on the spot, no doubt, my first one would be to bring you back. You will be missed, Redmoon. You will be missed.

Indonesian Dance of Illinois
Indonesian Dance of Illinois
Indonesian Dance of IllinoisThe San Andreas Fault


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