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Red Tape Theatre
Chicago, IL
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Kara Davidson
Kristen T. King
Rachel Griesinger
Rachael Miller
Robert Montgomery
Mallory Nees
Angelica M. Roque
Jessica Saxvik
Julia Stemper
Lisa Tosti.

Director: Jack Dugan Carpenter
Playwright: Gregory Peters
Stage Manager: Shauna Warren
Assistant Director: Kit Ryan
Assistant Stage Manager: Erin Outson
Lighting Designer: John Jacobsen
Costume Designer: Emma Cullimore
Prop & Scenic Designer: Lauren Angelopoulos
Sound Designer: Melissa Schlesinger
Violence Designer: Orion Couling

Matryoshka takes the basic elements, archetypes, and motifs from 1,001 Nights and translates them into 20th century American pop vernacular, bridging the thousand year gap from their pop culture to ours - witches become mad scientists, jesters become comedians, caliphs become crime lords, etc.  The origin of the play lies in the origin of 1,001 Nights: far from being the majestic work of literature we have come to see it as, 1,001 Nights began as various "bibles" for oral storytellers, who would perform in coffeehouses for largely illiterate audiences of regular folks. When the storyteller reached a crisis point in the story, he would actually run out of the coffeehouse to ensure the audience returned the next night to hear the conclusion of the tale, which would then immediately spur the start of another tale When you add it all up  lurid content, lack of distinct authorship, vernacular language, disavowal by the cultural elite, cliffhangers, wild changes in tone, even the way it garners respect with age  it sounds a lot like the ancient equivalent of our own pop & cult culture.

The result is a sort of Mobius-strip-nesting-doll (matryoshka is the Russian word for nesting doll), with stories opening only to reveal more stories within, sometimes folding over into one another, sometimes returning again, all of it keyed to the elements that make the stories universal. But the play is also a critical examination of the original stories and our own culture, looking at the misogyny and fixation on violence that populates both.

On Fridays after Matryoshka, The Plagiarists are proud to be hosting the amazing Harlotry and Necromancy Appreciation Society, Chicago's own only-sometimes-mustachioed, all-female clown troupe. Founded by three University of Chicago graduates, they have performed their original material at the Chicago Fringe Festival, AbbieFest, Oracle Theatre, The Steppenwolf Garage, RiotFest, Collaboraction, Salonathon, and the Chi-Town Clown Revue. They like throwing food, jumpsuits, and staring deep into your eyes. They dislike dialectical materialism, running out of cold cream, and your fourth grade social studies teacher. Their newest piece, created as a companion piece for Matryoshka, is called One of These Clowns is About to Die. The H&NAS describes their latest offering thusly: "One of these clowns is about to die. Their fate rests in your hands. Two brave gladiators enter the arena to compete in feats of daring, strength, emotional intimacy, and really really good hair. Only one will live to clown another day." One of These Clown Is About To Die will perform on Fridays after Matryoshka, on March 8th, 15th, 22nd,  April 5, and April 12th. Admission to One of These Clowns is About to Die is free!



Red Tape Theatre (View)
621 W. Belmont
Chicago, IL 60657
United States

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Arts > Theatre

Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!


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