Pete Guither has once again made his mark on modern theatre, this time pushing the envelope of artistic creativity to new realms with the latest rendition of his own creation, The Living Canvas - Demons. As part of National Pastime Theatre’s Naked July Festival, Guither ingeniously showcases his ability to intertwine the beauty of the naked body with flowing motion, mesmerizing projections and a riveting storyline that invokes a wide range of emotions.
The story is about an autistic girl and her sister who so desperately wants to break through to her. As the story progresses, the audience, along with her sister, are taken into an autistic mind that at times is chaotic while at other moments becomes a calm, warm haven. Superbly conveyed with the use of spellbinding music played over eleven talented performers (demons) dressed only in complex projections, the theatre is transformed into a world like no other that is both visually compelling and highly sensual.
Back for it’s seventh run in Chicago since 2001, The Living Canvas changes its theme for each production barring its fundamental premise of body acceptance in which audience members are challenged by the cast at the end of each performance to strip down and join them on stage in order to get a taste of what it is like to be “Living Canvasses”. “What are bodily flaws to one might appear as beauty to another,” leading cast member, Emily Mark, explains during the invite while also touching on being comfortable in your own skin. In the particular performance I attended, over a dozen people from the crowd took to the stage to dance with the performers and perform instructed motions such as swimming. The show finally comes to an end with a fun Q&A session that offers the opportunity for cast members and director to field questions related to the production. This is certainly a show not to be missed and one that will have you coming back to see it again. Who knows - maybe you’ll even take part in enjoying a liberating experience on stage.
The Living Canvas – Demons is playing at the National Pastime Theatre (4139 N. Broadway) on Friday and Saturday evenings at 10pm through July 31st. For more information please visit www.thelivingcanvas.com or call 773-327-7077.