Friday, July 31, 2009

A New Perspective on Downtown Elgin

Thanks to the Daily Herald for today's great article on Walkabout!

Theater walk provides new perspective on downtown Elgin

By Emily Jurlina, Daily Herald Staff Writer

The Elgin Cultural Arts Commission invites you to get up, lace up your shoes, head outside - and take in some theater.

This weekend is the kickoff for the second annual "Walkabout: Theater on Your Feet" theater walk that will take audience members on a tour through downtown Elgin.

The first Walkabout tour begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1 and every Saturday thereafter until Aug. 22. The tour starts at the Elgin Public House at 219 E. Chicago St. Tours start every 20 minutes until 2:20 p.m. Reservations are essential and can be made by calling (847) 841-1713.

According to Elgin Cultural Arts Commissioner Sean Hargadon, last year's Walkabout was so popular a few more shows were added but people still had to be turned away as demand surpassed show capacity.

For the $14 admission fee audience members get the chance to see seven different short plays, each lasting anywhere from seven to 10 minutes. Many of the production companies are performing shows written just for the Walkabout, tailored to complement their performance venue.

Hargadon estimates that each tour will last about 90 minutes, give or take. The tours will take audience members to all sorts of venues, from Villa Verone restaurant on Douglas Avenue to the Elgin Art Showcase on Division Street.

"Downtown Elgin is like its own set ... with all the wonderful architecture. All its characteristics are interesting in their own way," Hargadon said.

Hargadon, an Elgin native himself, started the Walkabout last year. The theater production group he works with, the Janus Theatre, will be performing there again this year.

Hargadon hopes the Walkabout will be an engaging experience for the audience, and also show them a side of downtown Elgin many have probably never taken the time to stop and see.

"Elgin is a very urban town for a suburb and we can take advantage of that. There are so many nooks and crannies to it and people will see different parts of Elgin that they've never seen before or things that have changed," he said.

"The best thing is that the plays are short and the audience will get a nice mix and variety of performances throughout the afternoon. It's a very engaging experience, instead of sitting passively on your feet you get to be active and involved."

The tours will conclude at DuPage Court and Spring Street at the Alley of Art Show, which will also include live music.

Besides Janus Theatre, Nothing Special Productions of Elgin, Vex Theatre Company of Palatine, Tower of Strength Players of South Elgin, GreenRoom Productions of Elgin, Envision Theatre of Carol Stream and Independent Players of Elgin will be performing at the Walkabout.

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