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“The Great Fire: a Traveling Truck Show” is a revival of early American Traveling Shows and an exploration of Chicago History that will tour Chicago neighborhoods in the Fall of 2012. With a large moving truck as the stage, the show will stop at community sites in a series of Saturdays, and engage audiences with storytelling, music, movement, comedic skits, puppetry, multimedia dioramas, and more.
We are exploring two interconnected themes—the histories within Chicago and the dynamism of Vaudeville.
With Chicago’s Great Fire of 1871 as a starting point, we will weave together tales of personal and community triumph. We are using the idea of fire symbolically. The Great Chicago Fire destroyed a city in early stages of growth, but established a ground for rebirth and reinvention, which ultimately led to the city’s greatness. This theme of transformation will carry through our story, inspired by historic characters and events from each Chicago neighborhood.
Fusing together our storylines in a variety show, we also aim to revive the form of Vaudeville, as it was popular around the time of the Fire and the early stages of rebuilding Chicago. Coming from a tradition of traveling music shows, medicine shows, and the circus, early American Vaudeville created a stage for the most eccentric of acts to be enjoyed by the masses. Performers came from all sorts of backgrounds and exhibited a range of talents. The shows created unifying moments of shared experience and pleasurable escape beyond demographic concerns.
Our show will have an overarching story, with customized vignettes for each neighborhood, and include local performers–exhibiting a wide range of talents–side shows, vendors, participatory games, and activity booths.
A little history and a lot of entertainment–something for everyone!