Tickets $25, MCA members $20
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or call the MCA Box Office, 312.397.4010
Chicago-based puppet artists Blair Thomas & Company transform the MCA Stage for 10 performances of their newly completed epic. In this beautiful Zen Buddhist parable of self-discovery, Blair Thomas sets an ancient eastern narrative in a contemporary western world, crafting a fresh take on one man's struggle for enlightenment amid the chaos of contemporary life. His stellar performers combine distinctive global performance forms - including Japanese bunraku puppetry, stilt dancing, and contemporary clowning - making the performance itself a wondrous discovery. Master percussionists Michael Zerang and Hamid Drake, acclaimed individually and legendary together, perform their score for this transcendent experience.
About the Artist
Blair Thomas & Company is a Chicago-based company founded in 2002 to support the artistic vision of puppet artist Blair Thomas. The company creates chamber puppet theater, a distinctive visual theater that, like chamber music, emphasizes intimacy, nuance, and the highest level of craftsmanship. Mixing traditional and contemporary practices, they create groundbreaking productions that advance the form of puppetry for the audience. Blair was selected as the inaugural Jim Henson Artist-in-Residence at the University of Maryland. In addition to the presentation The Ox-herder's Tale at the MCA, Blair Thomas & Company presents Cabaret of Desire at Chicago DCA Theater's Storefront Theater (66 E Randolph St) from October 9 - November 8, 2008.
"You stare at the man. And then you stare at the puppet, which helpfully stares back. You listen to a few lines of rich drama and, I swear, you no longer see one fellow of flesh and blood and one of wood and fabric; instead, you see a conversation between equals about hopes, dreams, achievements and failures. That was quite an amazing little moment Wednesday night, and symptomatic both of Thomas' brilliant, singular talent and his need to find better ways to make his work more apt and accessible for large spaces like the Museum of Contemporary Art."
"Blair Thomas & Company is one of the great masters of the art form — a theatrical magician in every sense of the term. [The show] spins the tale of a contemporary man list in the chaos of modern life who finds liberation through an envisioning of the Zen parable."
"The show itself is perfectly realized: beautiful, inventive, masterfully crafted, moving. And something else, too: Zerang and Drake's extended improvisation at the end transforms it into a meditation."
"Utilizing the traditional Japanese puppet style bunraku, which uses life-sized human-doll puppets manipulated by performers masked all in black, as well as a a towering bull, guided by a stilt-walking performer, Thomas' elaborate creations require the skills and commitment of extremely well-rounded artists to bring them to life."
American Theatre Magazine
"[Thomas has] been celebrated in Chicago performance circles for two decades, but … opens his first full season in his hometown this fall. The Ox-herder's Tale … gets an outsize staging courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art."
Running time: 75 minutes
Wednesday, November 19, 7:30 pm
Thursday, November 20, 7:30 pm
Friday, November 21, 7:30 pm
* Saturday, November 22, 2 pm
* Saturday, November 22, 8:30 pm
Sunday, November 23, 3 pm
Tuesday, November 25, 7:30 pm
Saturday, November 29, 3 pm
Saturday, November 29, 7:30 pm
Sunday, November 30, 3 pm
* Please note irregular performance times on Sat, Nov 22, due to the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. Please allow generous travel time on that day.