‘en route,’ a pedestrian-based live art experience, comes to Chicago in July


I’m usually inundated with press releases for upcoming shows, seasons and what-not, but when the below release came through, promoting a wild-sounding, street-based performance piece that instructs you where to go to see the show via text messages (on a smartphone provided to you — some savvy adverstising by Motorola), my interest was immediately piqued.

The full press release follows:

A Chicago Shakespeare Theater World’s Stage Series Presentation
en route
A Pedestrian-based Live Art Event for the City of Chicago
Created by Australia’s, One Step at a Time Like This

Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s North American premiere of en route hits city streets beginning July 11, 2011. Devised specifically for the City of Chicago by Australian company, One Step at a Time Like This, artists Suzanne Kersten, Clair Korobacz, Paul Moir and Julian Rickert lead audiences through a sensory production encouraging wayfarers to stroll streetscapes and alleys, transforming and redefining everything they thought they knew about the city. Melbourne-based One Step at a Time Like This generates its work from collaborative investigations, shaped primarily by the environment of a specific place — inviting audience members to participate in the theatrical event, encouraging rich and personalized experiences. The company is the recipient of a London 2012 Festival Cultural Olympiad commission to create en route in London as part of next summer’s Olympic Games. The piece has received critical acclaim in Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Australia’s Melbourne and Adelaide Fringe Festivals.

The journey of en route incorporates audio tracks, cell phone communication, text messaging, downtown thoroughfares, hotel lobbies, passers-by, cafés and the occasional brush with the artists. This pedestrian-based, live art event begins with a text message which gives instructions on where to meet the artists. Each of the travelers who go on the “journey” borrow a specially programmed Motorola ATRIX™ 4G smartphone, which serves as the navigational tool of their excursion.

Presented in association with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, en route is the centerpiece of Chicago’s 2011 summer tourism initiative, Urban Excursions: Explore Chicago. The presentation of en route is a partnership created by Chicago Shakespeare Theater presenting the signature, interactive-pedestrian event with Richard Jordan Productions, Ltd; en route’s official hotel, Kimpton Hotels; and support from the Australian Arts Council. “En route provides an innovative way to see the city while experiencing a unique form of theater,” said Dorothy Coyle, Executive Director, Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture. “It is the perfect centerpiece for Urban Excursions: Explore Chicago, our 2011 summer initiative showcasing hundreds of treks and other urban adventures downtown and throughout the neighborhoods.” Ron Vlasic, Regional Vice President of Operations for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants added, “Chicago’s Kimpton Hotels — the Allegro, the Burnham, the Monaco and the Palomar — are pleased to be the official hotels for en route. This groundbreaking partnership will enable visitors and residents alike to explore Chicago in a unique and powerful way.”

The Chicago performances of en route are presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater, One Step at a Time Like This and Richard Jordan Productions, Ltd. Tickets for en route are $35 and will go on sale July 1, 2011.

Here’s a video from a previous piece put on by the Australian-based company (no idea if this video exemplifies what they’ll be doing in Chicago, but it’s still fun to watch nonetheless):

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