Tuesday, March 11, 2008

the whirlwindy city

we were in blustery, snowy Chicago for a very fast week. Three days of classroom programming in inner city high schools was an intense experience for the cast... lots of metal detectors, showing ID at the door, and very positive responses from the majority of students we interacted with.

Our sponsor was the National PTA, so our school projects were under the microscope for potential future projects. I hope they were pleased, as I was very proud of how much the cast is improving in their facilitation of activities, and the creativity at which they approach ways to personalize the games to their countries and personal style. The week was also a test drive of an activity & leave-behind puzzle that I designed with the help of one of our students, Ultan from Ireland, who is a talented graphic designer. We used to hand cut world puzzles out of posterboard for every classroom we went into, and I am so excited about the higher quality and less labor that this new version allows.

We had decent turnout for the show in a city that is really challenging to promote in, because of the vast amount of entertainment any given night of the week. The Copernicus theatre was a funky old movie house in the Polish part of town-- it doubled as a Polish community center. UWP Chicago alumni sponsored our meals on show day, and they did a polish theme for lunch, complete with sausage and delicious perogies from a local restaurant. The only downside of the show was the backstage: there wasn't one!
It really changed the shape of the show, as everyone had to enter the stage from the sides, and to get around behind the stage you had to run outside in the parking lot, where it was of course about 15 degrees, windy and snowing. I'm pretty sure everyone has a cold now.

Even though casts love the idea of big cities like Chicago, in reality, it makes for an extra grueling schedule, because we are hosted all over the metro. That means that most people got up before 6am every day, took the L in to Union Station, then took our shuttle buses for another 45 minutes to wherever we were meeting first thing. Reverse that to go home, and most people got back between 7:30-8:00pm. Do that for 6 days in a row, and we're all ready to go back to the small town where our meeting point is five minutes from our host family's house!

BUT big cities also offer a lot of cool opportunities. We partnered with the National PTA to help them with an event they hosted at the Field Museum. They held a Parent Summit, and parents could bring their kids, and then while they were in the parenting classes, we took their kids around the Field Museum. A great way for us to get to see a cool museum from a kid's perspective... and we got in free! The only hard part was it was after our show day, so we finished taking down the set at midnight, and were at the museum at 8am. The cast had the afternoon free for sightseeing, and I went home and took a nap.

Scottie and I were lucky to be in the staff hotel this week-- right downtown at the Sheraton near Navy Pier. We went to dinner at Heaven on Seven, a Cajun restaurant, with Michael & Alyssa Burgart. It was so fun to catch up with them for an evening!
Our hotel team tried out Ed Debevicks - always a good time, and Al's Italian Beef Sandwiches, which were delicious.

And I was so excited to have Kato and Bethie come visit for the weekend! Katie took a bus from Minneapolis and made it in time for the 2nd half of the show friday night. Bethie, who had seen the show earlier in our tour, made it in late Friday- taking an evening flight. They joined us at the museum and helped out a group of kids... their team was the Bodacious Bugs. We visited Millenium park, had a drink at the Signature lounge on the 96th floor of the Hancock Center, and on Sunday B & K won the Wicked rush lottery and went to the matinee. To end our week we drove out to Wheaton to have a fantastic homecooked dinner at Howie & Dorothy's house. I was so glad that it worked out to see them too.

A quick, crazy city, and then we're off, back across I-80, and then turning south to drive into spring!

1 comment:

Anne said...

Fun to hear your cast's experience in Chicago, a city I love to visit. Glad you were able to see M&A and H&D. Beth is going to call to tell us about their trip-have already enjoyed the pics. I noticed the updated tour schedule-looks exciting. Love you Mom