Chicago Flyhouse Blog

[Q + A] The House Theatre of Chicago

Posted by Flyhouse on Feb 23, 2017 7:55:00 AM

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The House Theatre of Chicago and Chicago Flyhouse have worked together for more than a decade with Flyhouse being the performer flying vendor of choice. For an upcoming performance of The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz, the cast has been learning to fly in the Flyhouse rehearsal space. We had the opportunity to talk with The House's Artistic Director, Nathan Allen, to learn more about the company's past and standing out in the Chicago theater scene.

Where did the idea of The House come from and what was the process of getting it off the ground like?
Nathan:
Most of us met at Southern Methodist University and decided we wanted to start our own thing after graduation. A few of us had also studied at The British American Drama Academy in London. For me, the collision of a traditional American actor’s training with a much more audience focused European classical and physical training inspired questions about form and purpose. We started thinking about what we wanted to make, but more importantly who we wanted to serve. When we arrived in Chicago, we were met with this overwhelming support. People were excited by us and as a bunch of hard-working kids from hard-working families, we were able to harness that excitement into a relatively sustainable institution. We have our ups and downs like any group but we’ve survived on a sense that anything is possible in our theatre and community. It’s a lot to convince someone when you’re dealing with such ancient vocabularies but we’ve taken that challenge seriously - so much so that we started to resist the mundane. It became a challenge to continue staging the unstageable, to put our audience at the center of an imagined epic experience. That artistic chip on our shoulder fueled an ambition to grow, and we’re lucky that for some of our audience it’s made us fun to support. Seventeen years in and still doing it seems as impossible as anything, but here we are.

 

"It became a challenge to continue staging the unstageable..."

 

The cast for your upcoming show is doing performer flying training at Flyhouse’s rehearsal space throughout February, why is the partnership the two groups have formed important?
Nathan: There are only a few theatre companies in Chicago working regularly in such physical spectacle and stagecraft. Having a partner that can engineer fly systems, educate designers, directors, and performers in their use, and advise throughout a safe rehearsal process makes all the difference in our ability to experiment with and eventually stage these effects.

What has changed in theatre since your company was formed?
Nathan: That's a great question. In a real way, the theatre hasn't changed in thousands of years, but that's probably dodging the question. Still- I like to think that as we see modern media technologies become more and more isolating (especially those technologies that claim to be "social"), we see a reckoning with those purer and ancient purposes of our art form. Even in the frame of the last 17 years, I think we've seen more artists and producers aiming their work at the theatre's social functions, becoming more inclusive, and building spaces tuned for community building.

Is risk taking an essential part of a theatre company?
Nathan: In many ways, it’s a difficult business to begin with. But the way we've found to thrive in it is by trying to stand out- do something different. To try new things and embrace the risk of failing as a part of what makes the work exciting. Learning requires risk. The hardest trick is building a community of support that will take those risks with you.

 
"To try new things and embrace the risk of failing..."

 

What sets The House apart from others in the region?
Nathan: Our people. Our culture, led by our incredible Company Members, and nurtured by our Staff and Board, is as kind and courageous and encouraging and entrepreneurial as any arts and culture institution could be. Culture is everything, especially in a not-for-profit, and our people curate that culture. I think that it shows in our work.


Artistic Director Nathan Allen

Nathan Allen (Artistic Director) - The House Theatre of Chicago 
Nathan founded The House Theatre of Chicago with friends in 2001 and continues to lead the company as Artistic Director. In his role, he is responsible for the development and programming of all projects. Writing and directing credits include Death and Harry Houdini, The Sparrow, Rose and the Rime, The Last Defender and The Hammer Trinity (The Iron Stag King, The Crownless King, and The Excelsior King.) He also wrote and starred in The Valentine Trilogy (San Valentino and The Melancholy Kid, Curse of the Crying Heart, and Valentine Victorious) and directed The Magnificents by Dennis Watkins, with whom he created the weekly magic show, The Magic Parlour.

Nathan's work has been seen on the stages of The House, The Steppenwolf Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, The Arsht Center of Miami, The Stoneham Theatre in Boston, Strawdog Theatre, The Neo-Futurarium, Collaboraction, and The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Nathan has received acknowledgements from the Joseph Jefferson Awards, The Orgie Awards, and The American College Theatre Festival. He has been named an Associate Artist at The Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami and received the Emerging Leader Award from his alma mater, Southern Methodist University.

Topics: Performer Flying, Q+A, Flyhouse Projects

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Posted by Flyhouse on Jan 19, 2017 1:00:00 PM
Pagoda Red Relocation

Topics: Did You Know, Flyhouse Projects, Photos

[Project Recap] Lyons Township High School Theater Rigging Update

Posted by Flyhouse on Jan 18, 2017 3:30:00 PM

There comes a point where all systems need an upgrade to make sure they continue to be safe, efficient, and operational. The rigging business is no different with its systems.

Lyons Township High School recently had Flyhouse upgrade their theatrical rigging system from a manual to an automated ETC rigging system. The previous system had become unsafe and dangerous to continue to use in productions.

Over the course of the project, Flyhouse demolished the existing counterbalance and out-of-compliance curtain system before any newer systems could be installed. The new rigging system included single and double purchase counterweight line sets, a motorized counterweight line set and dead hung side tabs for brand new curtains.

Lyons Install Final 12.jpg

While the newer rigging system was an upgrade, the already established structural features required some innovative methods to create workarounds to install the system. For Flyhouse, the challenge of installing around I-beams, an HVAC system, water pipes, and existing conduits was just another day at the office.

Lyons new theatrical rigging system is now up-to-date and productions can move forward safely.

Topics: Rigging System, Flyhouse Projects, Stage Rigging

4,000 Pounds of Wire Rope Drums

Posted by Flyhouse on Dec 6, 2016 10:00:00 AM
Chi-Town Rising Wire Rope Drums

Topics: Did You Know, Flyhouse Projects, Chi Town Rising

[PHOTO] Did You Know...

Posted by Flyhouse on Oct 4, 2016 1:20:00 PM
Residing above millions of gallons of water in the Abbott Oceanarium of the Shedd Aquarium is an incredibly large motorized blackout curtain. When it comes time to replace it, Flyhouse takes on the project.
 

Topics: Did You Know, Flyhouse Projects