Chicago Performance Lab emerged from a desire to extend the nurturing environment of TAPS to Chicago’s professional performance community. Recognizing the importance of hospitality, particularly in a moment when the arts are faced with acute economic challenges, we invite companies into our artistic home. The work that we support demonstrates the boldness of Chicago’s artistic output and reflects the University’s commitment to interdisciplinary collaborations.  Read more about the Performance Lab in UChicago News




Cabinet of Curiosity Events will work with a team of puppeteers, dancers, mechanical devices, elements of ritual, light, shadows, projection and voice to begin the theatrical study of a “biography" of the hymn Amazing Grace. This new work of visual theater and song will accompany an additional new work “The Last Matador” along with "The Life and Death of Billy the Kid" to premiere in 2019 as The Tabletop Tragedies, an hour long meditation on grace, written by Seth Bockley and co directed by Frank Maugeri with Bockley.

Frank Maugeri - Co-Director
Seth Bockley - Writer & Co-DIrector
Time Brickey - Performer & Musician


This summer members of First Floor Theater will bring together student apprentices and theater professionals to develop a new adaptation of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon. We will explore the play with a number of techniques including Meisner, Viewpoints and Vocal work. By the end of the two-week residency we hope the have generated a working first draft of the tragedy. This workshop is the first step in a longer-term project to adapt the whole Oresteia. We will eventually create a mobile performance that brings the trilogy’s elemental questions of vengeance and justice into fresh relief.

Project Leads: Andrew Cutler, Griffin Sharps
Acting Apprentices: Grace Bolander, Katie Bevil



The Fly Honey Show is a re-imagining of the classic cabaret to create an intimate and explosive celebration of body+sex positivity that advances gender equality and promotes self-love. Now in it's ninth year of evolving and growth, The Fly Honey Show hunkers down with UChicago Performance Lab to expand it's Honey+Hive  Ensemble experience, where over 150 rotating novice and professional femme-identified dancers explore choreography that makes the body feel good and highlights a feminist perspective. Starting in 2009 for one night in a loft in Lakeview, creator, director and choreographer Erin Kilmurray has been at the project's helm, now cited as a "Chicago institution" by NewCity. With five weeks of performances, The Fly Honey Show 9 will showcase over 300 artists - with a core cast of performances choreographed by Kilmurray and her team, a line-up of 35 Featured Performance Artists across a variety of mediums, and the ensemble - development hosted this year by CPL.


Kind World
Vanessa Stalling
A Collected stories docu-play based on the WBUR Podcast Kind World created by company member Vanessa Stalling.

The Mooncatcher's Daughter
Kara Davidson and Manual Cinema
A coming-of-age story based on swedish myths and the mysteries of magic and science written by company member Kara Davidson and featuring spectacle and design from puppetry company Manual Cinema. 

Untitled Collected Story Play
Stacy Stoltz
A collected stories docu-play about the experiences of older women created by company member Stacy Stoltz.

Chris Matthews
A new play by company member Chris Matthews wherein a man's faith and duty are tested when confronted with what his personal sacrifices have cost a community.

New Work
J. Nicole Brooks
A new work by J. Nicole Brooks

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Elana Elyce
A new adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic by company member Elana Elyce.

New Work
Ariel Zetina
A New Work by Ariel Zetina

Little Girl, Don't Fall
Jesse Roth and Matthew Muñiz
A neo-gothic post-feminist pop musical adaptation of the Bluebeard fairytale from Jesse Roth and company member Matthew Muñiz.

Ben Lobpries and Joey Steakley
A new adaptation of Pinnochio focusing on themes of belonging and what it means to be a "real" boy from company members Ben Lobpries and Joey Steakley.

Bennett Fisher and Monty Cole
A sister's fantastical adventure to save her brother from the dangers of corporate America from playwright Bennett Fisher and director Monty Cole.

Brett Neveu, Jason Narducy, Nathan Allen
A coming of age story about how rock-and-roll can save your life from playwright Brett Neveu and composer Jason Narducy.

Nova to Lodestar
Nathan Allen, Sandor Weisz, Lee Keenan
From the creative team of The Last Defender, Nova to Lodestar is a live, asymmetric, cooperative game played by two teams in two separate rooms.

All Quiet on the Western Front
Matt Foss
Playwright/Director Matt Foss' new adaptation of the novel by Erich Maria Remarque

Mary Robinette Kowal
A science-fiction adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much by Hugo-award wining author Mary Robinette Kowal.

The Secret Garden
Sean Kelley
Sean Kelley's musical adaptation of the Francis Hogson Burnett Novel.


The 12-day, city-wide 3rd annual Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, ocurring from  January 17 - 27, 2019, will showcase an entertaining and eclectic array of puppet styles from around the world including marionettes, shadow puppets, Bunraku puppets, tiny toy puppets, and distinctive, innovative styles of contemporary puppetry. The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is a mission-driven program of Chicago-based theater company Blair Thomas & Co. Founded in 2002, Blair Thomas & Co. is recognized as an international contributor to contemporary puppetry and a creator of uniquely expressive spectacle theater. In preparation for a showing in the Puppet Theater Festival in winter 2019, the artistic team listed below is developing an original puppet-circus-theater adaptation of the myth of Atalanta, exploring the expected and unexpected ways one generates power.

Leslie Danzig – Director
Jessica Thebus – Co-Director
Performers include:  Amanda Crockett, Sean Garratt, Michel Rodriguez Cintra



Adapted from the novel by Mary Shelley
Concept by Drew Dir
Devised by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller
Original music by Kyle Vegter and Ben Kauffman

Love, loss, and creation merge in unexpected ways in this thrilling classic gothic tale conceived by Manual Cinema. Stories of Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein, and his Monster expose how the forces of family, community, and education shape personhood—or destroy it by their absence.

In a special world premiere presentation, internationally-renowned multimedia company Manual Cinema stitches together the classic story of Frankenstein with Mary Shelley’s own biography to create an unexpected story about the beauty and horror of creation. Manual Cinema combines handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, and innovative sound and music to create immersive visual stories for stage and screen.

MANUAL CINEMA is a performance collective, design studio, and film/ video production company founded in 2010 by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Ben Kauffman, Julia Miller, and Kyle Vegter. Manual Cinema combines handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, and innovative sound and music to create immersive visual stories for stage and screen. Using vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, puppets, actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design, and a live music ensemble, Manual Cinema transforms the experience of attending the cinema and imbues it with liveness, ingenuity, and theatricality.


The Violet Hour with Winnifred Coombe
Caroline Kingsley A.K.A. Winnifred Coombe

Spiritualist Suffragette Winnifred Coombe has transcended space and time to host The Violet Hour. While she has ministered to the souls of those who are able to find her through prayer and conjuring, she knows that America needs her now -and what better way to reach the people than through the boob-toob? Winnifred and her gaggle of sparkling Coombian correspondents will keep you grounded, centered and glittering with hilarious Astro-forecasts, “Being-on-the-Street” interviews, guided VisionQuests, magical guests and Spells for Success.

Caroline Kingsley is an actor, writer and comedienne named one of six “Best Queer Performance Artists in Chicago” by the REVIVAL residency.  She created the original character Winnifred Coombe at Salonathon, and her full-length interactive show “La Lune De Femme: a Punk-Pagan Ritual For the Goddess” with the Good Night Ladies  had a sold out run in Chicago and was selected for festivals around the country. She has worked with many wonderful establishments including Lookingglass Theater, Northlight Theater, Victory Gardens, 16th Street theater, and Collaboraction, Dog and Pony Theater Company and Backroom Shakespeare. She wrote and performed the role of Hillary Clinton in Hill n’ Bill: A Billary Broadway Karaoke Spectacular with Alex Moffat (SNL cast member).  She is currently working with her sister on a full-length documentary and mini-series about Victoria Woodhull - the first woman to run for president in 1872:

Michelle J. Rodriguez A.K.A. MICHA

VISIONS/VISIONES is the latest exploration of Michelle J. Rodriguez’s music project MICHA. Michelle hopes to expand the reach of the music by creating and collaborating on visual and choreographic worlds that will culminate in visual content and choreography for the MICHA live stage show. The work will center on creating content for Latinx women and women of color, portraying them as part of the canon and as creating their own canon, in a context informed both by art history and by contemporary popular culture. In the realm of VISIONS, we envision our futures, we envision our current possible realities, we envision the greatest loves we have ever experienced, with others and within ourselves.

MICHA is the project of vocalist, songwriter, musical theater composer and actor Michelle J. Rodriguez. Born in Orlando, Florida to Puerto Rican parents and raised in Kirkland, Washington and Lexington, Kentucky, Rodriguez sings and writes songs that move your heart and remind you of home in all its forms. With a voice that is “clear and compelling” and a sound that features “flourishes of bolero, bossa nova and even jazz” (Chicago Tribune), MICHA has captivated audiences at Joe's Pub (NYC), the Hideout, Steppenwolf and Salonathon in Chicago with her stunning vulnerability onstage. Rodriguez starred in her original bluegrass/folk musical, East o', West o'! at ANTFest at Ars Nova in New York City this past June, which earned her a mention in The New Yorker. MICHA will take you on a visionary journey through her musings on life, love, and homeland, all with powerful femme-centered vibes.


See Us (Working Title)
Ishi Metkar
Salonathon has undoubtedly touched every person that has walked through the doors of Beauty Bar on Monday nights. Each person gets something completely different from the experience yet the space fosters a sense of community, belonging, and safety that is seldom found in other places. Through the eyes of a newer member of the community, this documentary aims to find the essence of Salonathon and the thing that makes it a Mecca for everyone from the most marginalized to the mainstream. Through interviews, organized recordings of the event in its last few months, and iPhone videos from members of the community this documentary tries to capture the community, content, and cause behind Salonathon.

As a recent college grad with an Economics degree that moved to Chicago with a romanticized view of the “real” world, the reality of working in Corporate America soon wore me down. Being an immigrant who moved from Mumbai to New York at the age of 7, I was used to finding my own way but It wasn’t until that first night, when I walked through those doors, let Dan-O stamp my wrist and heard the roar of “underground, emerging, art” that I felt at home. I was inspired  to capture this feeling on film. I have worked on short music videos, short films for film classes at WashU and another feature length documentary that is currently in the later stages of post-production. In the future, I want to work in film strategy and eventually own my own film studio that produces documentary films.


The Raveling
Walkabout Theater Company will partner with Chicago artists, Delhi-based theater Guild of the Goat, and Toronto vocalist Fides Krucker to create an original performance for non-theater spaces called The Raveling. The Raveling is a re-threading of history, beginning with stories of place, re-enactments of past events, personal explorations of heritage and body, and a tracing of time through songs. Walkabout will develop the work in site-specific locations in Chicago and in Delhi, before preparing it for tour in the United States.  

Join Walkabout on Sunday, July 22 or Tuesday, July 24 at 8pm in Room 701 of the Logan Center for the first public showcase of The Raveling. The showing will be less than an hour and includes the opportunity to provide feedback on the work.


Directed by Thom Pasculli
Co-created by Anastacia Narrajos
Anirudh Nair
Suhasini Jhala
Alex Rodriguez
Cooper Forsman
Dana Murphy
Katie Mazzini
Nigel Brown
Stephanie Shum

with Vocal Specialist Fides Krucker
Original Text by Morgan McNaught
Assistant Director Monet Felton

Stage Manager Shanyn Strub


Recent projects incubated at CPL:

Interviews with UChicago Performance Lab Artists

Introduction: Devising in Chicago by Heidi Coleman

The House Theatre of Chicago

The Hypocrites

Lucky Plush Productions

Manual Cinema 

The New Colony 

Walkabout Theater

UChicago Performance Lab News

Uchicago NEWS: Building Bridges



Heidi Coleman, CPL Founder
Nathan Allen, The House
Aasia Bullock & Dewayne Perkins, Salonathon
Vanessa Stalling, The House
Alex Grelle, Salonathon
David Catlin, Lookingglass
Drew Dir, Manual Cinema
Erin Kilmurray, The Salts
Jane Beachy, Salonathon
Sean Graney, The Hyopcrites