In our society we rarely come together as a community the way our ancestors did, to celebrate the spring planting or the return of summer or a bountiful harvest. Which is one reason that Redmoon Theater’s seasonal spectacles are so moving: it’s just plain thrilling to be part of a crowd of people, as I was last Saturday in a north-side neighborhood, parading around carrying eccentric-looking paper lanterns–created by Redmoon–and surrounded by actors, puppeteers, musicians, and tumblers. After the parade, as night fell, we gathered for an elaborate ritual featuring dancing skeletons, huge birdlike puppets, performers twirling flaming batons, and lots of thrilling, heart-pounding drumming by Jellyeye. The funny thing is, even though for all practical purposes we were just another audience watching a show, I felt connected to the performers because I’d just paraded with them. For a brief hour or so the Redmoon folks remind us what it’s like to be part of a community, celebrating all the aspects of Halloween that get lost in the costume-buying, candy-grubbing frenzy–the turning of the leaves and the return of winter, bittersweet reminders of the cycle of birth and death and of all those who’ve left us behind. Field Museum of Natural History, Roosevelt at Lake Shore (north stairway); Saturday, October 31, 1 PM. Then at Logan Square, at the intersection of Milwaukee, Kedzie, and Logan; Saturday, October 31, dusk. Then at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport (outdoors at the front entrance); Sunday, November 1, approximately 9 PM. All performances are free; audience participation and costumes are encouraged. For more information, call 773-388-9031.

–Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Hillary Metcalf.