Albany Park Theater Project (APTP), Chicago’s award-winning, multiethnic, youth theater ensemble, announces the launch of the company’s first-ever immersive theater project. The two-year project is expected to culminate in 2016 with APTP’s premiere of a large-scale, immersive theater performance, created and performed by youth ensemble members, exploring the theme of education, and taking place throughout the classrooms, hallways, offices, bathrooms, gymnasium, locker rooms, lunchroom – and, yes, even the theater – of a school. To kick off the project this summer, APTP will bring to Chicago the award-winning and widely acclaimed Third Rail Projects (TRP), creators of the long-running Then She Fell in New York. During a weeklong residency at APTP this August, TRP will train teen artists in the fundamentals of site-specific, immersive performance.
“What is immersive theater? For the youth and adult artists of Albany Park Theater Project, it’s about placing people directly inside the real-life stories we share. Immersive theater is a natural extension of what APTP has always done: taking people on journeys deep into worlds with which they’re unfamiliar, or through which they experience the familiar in new ways."Producing Artistic Director, Albany Park Theater Project
“Since our beginning,” Feiner continues, “APTP has challenged and transcended boundaries – between life and art, between audiences and artists, and across the lines of ethnicity, class, religion, age, and geography that too often divide us. Our exploration of immersive theater is a way for us to bring audiences and performers even closer together, all in the service of getting to know one another, build new relationships, and collectively envision a more beautiful and just world. In Third Rail Projects, we’ve found kindred spirits who also devise multidisciplinary performances of remarkable playfulness, imagination, and heart. We can not wait to welcome them to Chicago, to learn from them, and to play together.”
“We are excited to bring the artists of Third Rail Projects together with the extraordinary company of Albany Park Theater Project. After seeing God’s Work, it became immediately apparent that we are cut from the same cloth, both storytellers that create works that ask questions about life by speaking to the heart."Artistic Director, Third Rail Projects
Willett continues: “By sharing the methods that Third Rail employs to create its immersive and site-specific works, we look forward to expanding the toolbox for APTP, helping to bring their work even closer to the audience by inviting them to step inside of their stories.”
As part of their training with Third Rail Projects, Albany Park Theater Project’s youth artists will transform the entire 1920’s Tudor Revival-style, Chicago Park District field house where APTP makes its home into an immersive performance world. On August 16, the youth ensemble will invite a limited audience of 80 people to experience a work-in-progress showcase. To be entered into a lottery to receive an invite, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The showcase takes place August 16 at Eugene Field Park, 5100 North Ridgeway Avenue, in Chicago. Further work-in-progress showcases will follow over the next two years, leading up to the debut of a large-scale event in 2016.
Albany Park Theater Project, led by Producing Director David Feiner and founded in 1997 by Feiner and the late Laura Wiley, is a multiethnic, ensemble-based youth theater company that inspires people to envision a more beautiful and just world. Recent APTP productions include God’s Work (2014, Goodman Theatre), Home/Land (2013, Goodman Theatre; 2012, Laura Wiley Theater), and I Will Kiss These Walls (2013, Laura Wiley Theater). In addition to critical and popular acclaim for its artistry, APTP has been recognized locally and nationally for its youth development achievements: more than 90% of teen ensemble members will become the first in their families to go to college. APTP’s awards include the Midwest Light of Human Rights Award from National Immigrant Justice Center and the Coming Up Taller from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
Third Rail Projects, led by Artistic Directors Zach Morris, Tom Pearson, and Jennine Willett, is dedicated to reframing dance and performance and bringing art to the public through an array of media and within a variety of contexts including site-specific performances, dance theater, installation art, video and multi-media projects, and immersive performance environments. Third Rail artists have received numerous awards including three New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards for Then She Fell (2013) and Vanishing Point (2008), a 2001 New York International Fringe Festival Award for Choreography from the Present Company, and others. Ben Brantley, chief theater critic of the New York Times, included Then She Fell on his Top 10 of 2012 list.
Seed funding for Albany Park Theater Project’s immersive theater project, including the training with Third Rail Projects and first work-in-progress showcase, has been generously provided by APTP’s first grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and by the Michael D. and Jolynn Blair Family Foundation.
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