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Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park

Filament Theatre Kicks Off 15th Year With Signature Fort-Building Show To Wake Up Your Inner Child

The one-hour show turns the stage into a playspace for kids and adults to have fun. Shows run weekly until Jan. 8.

Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., debuted its show "Forts" in 2018 and is bringing it back to kick off its 15th year.
Filament Theatre
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PORTAGE PARK — You can build your own fort on stage and play with cardboard boxes at a show opening this weekend.

Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., is bringing back its signature family-friendly show “Forts: Build Your Own Adventure” to begin its 15th year. The show opens Saturday and runs through Jan. 8.

The one-hour show turns the stage into a playspace for kids and adults to have fun and build worlds using cardboard boxes, clotheslines, fabric, furniture and more. It’s also a way to give young people agency and give them a taste of what it’s like to be an actor, said Julie Ritchey, outgoing artistic director and co-founder of the Filament Theatre.

The show, which debuted in 2018, was designed collaboratively and seeks to give audience members a new experience at the theater that can remind them of their childhoods, Ritchey said.

The upcoming run is the show’s fourth iteration. Every time the company produces “Forts,” people come back asking for more, Ritchey said.

“It just seems like it’s Filament’s signature show,” Ritchey said. “We have people asking about it all the time. Especially after all the theaters were closed for so long, once we opened, we got so many emails” about bringing back the show.

Filament reopened at the beginning of the year with “Gather,” a two-person show inspired by the pandemic.

“Forts” also offers four adult-only night performances for adults to reconnect with the magic of their youth, Ritchey said.

Adults 21 and older will be able to bring their own beer or wine to the adult shows, company leaders said.

“I think people are really ready to play, be in community and share space,” Ritchey said. “It’s a perfect show for the holidays and for the winter.”

To celebrate its 15th year, Filament is selling $15 tickets to “Forts” and all other 2022-23 season performances.

The show is Ritchey’s last with the Northwest Side company. In September, the theater company announced its co-founder is stepping down and named Molly Bunder and Rejinal Simon as new co-artistic directors.

Ritchey is moving to Australia with her family and will continue a career in theater, she said. Having “Forts” as her last show is a special moment for her, she said.

“This is one of the shows I am proudest of,” she said. “I have a 3-year-old now, so I get to bring my own child to come and do ‘Forts.’ It’s just so special.”

“Forts” runs 1 and 3 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sundays. Adult performances run at 7 p.m. Fridays. Tickets are available online.

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