Beginning in August 2015, 30 statues across Chicago will begin to speak their minds. Some of the city’s most celebrated writers, actors and comedians will create monologues for a range of iconic statues that line Chicago's streets. Pass a Talking Statue, swipe a smartphone on a nearby plaque and get a call back from the likes of Abe Lincoln, Copernicus or Chicago’s Miro. And your call from Lincoln won't cost you a cent.
Each statue tells a compelling story. Collectively they tell Chicago’s story. Talking Statues Chicago is a city-wide initiative, made possible through the support of The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. The monologues are commissioned in partnership with a group of Chicago theaters including The Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, Second City and Steppenwolf Theatre Company, each of which will call on their glittering alumni to lend voices to Chicago's iconic figures.
The project is a collaboration of many cultural partners including The Chicago Park District, which provided in-kind support. A range of public engagement activities is planned for the event from writing for a statue to Talking Statues walking tours.
Talking Statues Chicago is produced by British arts organization, Sing London. Chicago is the first American city to produce the project, which piloted in London in 2014.
“Chicago is home to an extraordinary collection of public art. In fact, the parks are a sort of outdoor museum,” says Kim Coventry, executive director of The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. “The foundation is pleased to provide a free and interactive opportunity to learn more about the city’s rich history and to discover a new dimension of our great public parks through often overlooked statues, memorials, and sculptures.”
“Most of us hardly notice the statues around us. Talking Statues Chicago aims to change this,” said Sing London Producer Colette Hiller. “The project brings theatre to the streets and parks. Literally! We are engaging a stellar line-up of writers and actors ready to put themselves in the shoes - or in some cases the paws! - of Chicago’s statues.”
Established in 2006, non-profit arts organization Sing London strives to connect people to the public spaces we all share. Past projects include London's Street Pianos Project, and Ping!, which saw 1,000 ping pong tables installed in public spaces across England. Most recently they produced Talking Statues London.
For more information about Talking Statues Chicago, visit talkingstatueschicago.com.
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
The Talking Statues Chicago initiative will offer a creative way to learn about the subjects of some of Chicago's iconic statues, including Jean Batiste DuSable, the first permanent settler of the land now known as Chicago (photo courtesy of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs).