Located at the heart of the six corners business district, on the edge of Portage Park in Chicago is the Filament Theater. A unique black box theater that focuses on developing the arts community, neighborhood and earth through sustainable theater practices. Filament as an organization started in Chicago in 2007. After its inception, the organization performed all over the city, influencing the arts community in a grassroots way. However, in 2011, Old Irving Park was looking to create a pop-up arts project, of which Filament was a part of. After being involved in the Old Irving Park and Portage neighborhoods, Filament Theater decided to set their roots and become an active member of the community. They signed their lease in 2013 and had their first season in 2014. Christian Libonati, Managing Director of the Filament Theater commented, 

We were inspired by the business owners and type of people who live here. There is a lot of high energy in the neighborhood and we wanted to be a part of that.
— Christian Libonati

The types of plays at the Filamont vary greatly depending on the season. The playwrights and plays are from international backgrounds and the adaptations often involve the neighborhood to make them more locally relatable. Overall, the Filament Theater has produced over 6 world premieres, and has been featured in a variety of media including the Chicago tribune and WBEZ news. The Filament Theater aims to create theater in a folk tradition, through which they can share the magic of theater with the audience. The “black box” space, seats 50 to 100 people, and allows the artists to create a completely different environment every time there is a new play. By re-configuring the seating arrangements, the theater happens all around the audience. This unique method of storytelling allows for visitors to be completely engaged and transported to a different environment. One where they can feel the emotions that the artists elegantly portray.

To get an idea of how creative this organization is, you have to learn about their upcoming projects. “Pinocchio: A Folk Musical.” Adapted from the story by Carlo Collodi. With original music and lyrics by Tyler Beattie. And directed by Scott Ferguson, is an expansive, freewheeling, musical adaptation of the beloved fairy tale novel. Six actors will play several characters and perform the entire score live. Instruments may include: Piano, guitar, violin, flute, mandolin, glockenspiel, various percussion instruments and more. “Pinocchio: A Folk Musical” will play from January 22nd to March 6th of 2016.

Some other plays planned for 2016 include: “Scherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Portage Park ‘The Bike Show,’” where artists and audience alike will walk or bike in the neighborhood as the play happens. And a partnership with the new Community Tavern restaurant, which will share its space for a play to happen inside the restaurant. The theater also has shows that pay throughout the year. Visit their website for more information.

Filament Theater is one of the most creative and engaging non-profit organizations in Chicago. Their multi-generational audience makes the plays even more interesting and accessible to people of all ages. Without a doubt, there is true passion for creating projects that allow people to look at the neighborhood in new ways. We are proud to be a part of a community where people care so much about each other. We are proud that the Lincoln Park homes in our Basecamp SFH project will bring you closer to organizations like the Filament Theater.

Visit their website here for more information
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