Elgin’s Walkabout tour returns for 5th year
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media July 27, 2012 11:46AM
Tony Aiello (from left, on table), Patricia True and Josh Radde of Janus Theatre perform Playwright 101: a Rooftop Lesson by Rich Orloff in front of Al's Cafe as part of Walkabout Theatre in Elgin, IL on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008. The three-weekend series presents several site-specific short plays to an audience that migrates from location to location. | FILE PHOTO
‘Walkabout: Theater on Your Feet’
◆ July 27-29
◆ Elgin Public House, 219 E. Chicago St., Elgin
◆ Tickets, $15
◆ (847) 841-1713
Updated: October 22, 2012 6:07PM
A creepy chill will slither down the spine of this long, hot summer when Poe comes to Elgin.
The Elgin Cultural Arts Commission presents the fifth “Walkabout: Theater on your Feet” in downtown Elgin. Evening tours begin at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and run approximately every 15 minutes until 8 p.m. Day tours begin at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and run approximately every 15 minutes until 3 p.m. The starting location is the Elgin Public House.
This year, four works by Edgar Allan Poe will be featured. Tour guides will lead groups of people to downtown locations where they will see the plays performed. Walkabout creator and Elgin Cultural Arts Commission Chairman Sean Hargadon wanted to bring some terror to the theater on your feet experience, and picked “the master of the macabre.”
“Every year we try to do something new,” he said. “We thought it would be nice to do Edgar Allan Poe, because the Walkabout is a summer event — it’s bright, it’s airy — we thought, ‘Let’s get a little dark.’”
This year’s Walkabout locations will be adapted to enhance the plays, with actors clothed in period costumes and additional sound and lighting effects used to set the mood, he said.
“This year, we’re trying to add a little more production value to the whole thing, along with the creepiness and eeriness of basements and exposed pipes and brick and things like that,” he said. “Elgin’s historic buildings easily lend themselves to this type of thing.”
Participating companies include the Janus Theater Company, Nothing Special Productions, Guild Theater and the Great American Artistic Consortium. Actors from each company will perform a Poe piece, and audiences will continue to the next location.
Hargadon refused to leak which Poe pieces audiences could expect to see, but did promise a highlight would be “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
“I’m directing that one. It’s really wild. It works so well,” he said. “And it’s being played by a woman.”
The whole thing will be about 75 to 90 minutes long. The stories are so well-written and the acting so solid, he said, that the performances will have a profound effect.
“The stories are surprisingly very modern. For something that’s 150 years old, they don’t play dated. They really work,” he said. “If you get people in the right setting, and create the mood right away, I think it will have an interesting effect. The goal is not to scare anybody; the goal is to creep them out.”
Al’s Café will be the final destination of Walkabout, where walkers will receive a free malted courtesy of Walt’s, he said.
Reservations, he said, are “absolutely essential,” as space is limited. He recommended the performances for 12 and up.