Third Mask Festival brings new experience to Chicago

By Blaise Mesa, Managing Editor

A type of theater not often seen will take center stage when inaugural The Third Mask Festival comes to campus.

The Third Mask Festival, organized by students in the festival management practicum class in the Business and Entrepreneurship Department, will showcase devised theatre, similar to an experimental or improvised commedia dell’arte or performance.

The festival will take place May 2–4 at two locations, C33 Gallery, 33 E. Ida B. Wells Drive and Sheldon Patinkin Theatre, 72 E. 11th St.

Ashley Hollingshead, second-year theatre graduate student, will perform in the event May 2. Orlando Pinder

Second-year arts management graduate student Wendolyn Sims-Rucker is in the festival management practicum class and is on the festival’s marketing team.

Sims-Rucker said there are a lot of members in her cohort in the arts management program interested in theater business, but no electives related to this interest. The festival helped give students the realworld experience they desired, she added.

Ashley Hollingshead, second-year theatre graduate student and performer in the event, said the festival might be a new experience for attendees used to seeing performances such as Shakespeare or musicals.

There will be 10, 30–45 minute performances, according to Hollingshead. All shows are final thesis projects from students and will be “as individual as the 10 people putting them on,” they said.

Hollingshead said there are pieces with traditional storytelling, dance theater and even performative-lecture theater.

Associate Professor of Instruction in the Theatre Department Albert Williams said people are not exposed to European devised theatre often, and these performances can broaden people’s perspectives.

“The more international our perspective can be, the less likely we are to make the mistakes our ancestors made,” Williams said.

Second-year arts management graduate student Wendolyn Sims-Rucker is working on the marketing team for the festival. Orlando Pinder

Williams said this festival is the first performance of the first cohort of European Devised Theatre MFA students.

Chair of the Business and Entrepreneurship Department Mary Filice co-teaches the festival management practicum class. She said when students watch the performances they will understand people have a commonality to share and that they are valued.

The festival will include two panels and two workshops, one of which is the “Diversity & Devising” panel, which Filice said will add the most value to the festival.

“This is going to be so aligned with the college and with our commitment to investigating how to ensure theatrical performances—also the management of those performances—are as diverse and equitable as possible,” Filice said.

Filice hopes the festival will become an annual event.

“We have a huge theater department here,” Hollingshead said. “There are some opportunities for devising, … but not as much a focus as is in our program. There is an interest in that amongst undergrads. People who come and see these works—and/or take the workshops and attend the panels—will get a greater exposure to this type of theater.”

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