Venue Details

136 Star Starred
Victory Gardens Zacek McVay Theater
Formerly the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater 2433 North Lincoln Avenue Chicago, IL 60614
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4.8 / 5 Rated by 19 members
Review from GeorgiePorgie
Red Velvet 81 events 40 reviews

Marvelous work. The sort of piece that inspires long conversation afterwards. A perfect date.

reviewed Jul 30 2010 report as inappropriate
Review from gatimot
7 events 2 reviews

Absolutely amazing - makes you reconsider what is possible in the art of puppetry (I admit this far exceeded my expectations). Charmingly low-tech and rough around the edges. I cannot imagine how long it took to create and synchronize the art,...continued

reviewed Jul 09 2010 report as inappropriate
Review from Goldstar Member
14 events 2 reviews

Wonderful, unique and mesmerizing. A great evening out and a chance to see some of Chicago's finest theater by one of Chicago's finest storyteller.

reviewed Jul 29 2010 report as inappropriate
View All 15 Reviews
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Quotes & Highlights

“The technique and commitment on display is nothing short of staggering.” —Chicago Tribune


Imagine yourself in a dark theater. The lights come up.  But not traditional stage lights.

Rather, flicking lanterns cast a glow on a lone man dressed in black.  He starts moving back and forth, quietly unfurling four, seemingly endless parchment scrolls, which reveal one beautiful hand-illustrated image after another. Somehow, this nimble man is simultaneously manipulating handcrafted shadow puppets against his moving backdrop, and all unites to tell the tale of a mysterious blackbird with a roaming eye.

If this doesn’t sound like a typical night in the theater, that’s because nothing Blair Thomas does is ever typical.  See for yourself when Thomas, Chicago’s most acclaimed contemporary puppet master, returns for a four-week summer run of his acclaimed trio of interconnected solo shows, Hard Headed Heart.


  • Hard Headed Heart is perfect for a fun, casual, cool summer night at the theater, running 70 minutes without intermission while showcasing Thomas’ incredible talent and craft as he performs:

The Puppet Show of Don Cristobal  – Based on the bawdy script by Federico Garcia Lorca, this short play, performed by Thomas with wooden hand puppets and a drum kit, is a slapstick retelling of the traditional trickster Cristobal’s wooing and marriage to the delectable Dona Rosita.

St. James Infirmary  –  Based on the traditional New Orleans folksong, this is a clever, romantic show performed with rod marionettes, a motorized paper scroll and a one-man pit band. **

The Blackbird* – Based on Wallace Stevens’ poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” The Blackbird is an engaging, inventive shadow puppet show performed on a set of four rolling paper scrolls, lit entirely by lamplight.**

More about Blair Thomas & Co.**

For anyone who loves the performing arts, Blair Thomas & Co. provides magical theatrical experiences and illuminating connections to unique cultural traditions by combining live music, narrative literature and handcrafted objects. As co-founder of the highly successful Redmoon Theater, Blair spent a decade leading a vision to create large-scale spectacle theater. He was the principal creator behind all of its productions, parades and pageants, including_ Frankie & Johnny_, Moby Dick, Frankenstein, the Winter Pageant, and the All Hallow’s Eve Halloween parade until he left in 1998. Blair then served as co-curator for both of Chicago’s International Puppet Festivals in 2000 and 2001 and became an Associate Adjunct Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

In 2002, Thomas founded Blair Thomas & Co. to create a distinctive Chamber Puppet Theater.  With the company, Blair has toured to Boston, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Tampa, Atlanta, Phoenix, Madison, Bloomington, Mexico, and Spain, and has built a repertoire of work for adults and for children. He was awarded the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for New Performance in 2002 and 2004, and was hand-picked to serve in the inaugural position of Jim Henson Artist-in-Residence at the University of Maryland in College Park for the 2006-07 academic year.

Last fall,* *Thomas** **took Hard Headed Heart on a seven-stop tour of Chicago neighborhoods, culminating in a sold-out performance at the Richard Christiansen Theater.  Victory Gardens’ audiences already know Thomas as co-creator with folk music legend Michael Barrow Smith and director Frank Galati of the theater’s smash hit holiday musical The Snow Queen_. For the past few years he has been performing an original adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant_ that he and Michael Smith created for Chicago Children’s Theater.   Also last fall he conceived, designed and directed The Ox-Herder’s Tale, a Buddhist parable, and Cabaret of Desire, a staging of six short works by Federico Garcia Lorca.  His other recent credits include A Rabbit’s Tale, a puppet pantomime staged to Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, and Master Pedro’s Puppet Show with Chicago Opera Theater.  Thomas is developing a stage adaptation of Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick as a chamber puppet cantata.  He has also been commissioned by Chicago Children’s Theater to develop an adaptation of award winning Brian Selznick’s book Houdini’s Box for production in January 2010. 

Cavalia: <em>Odysseo</em> KIDZ BOP St. Patrick's Day Party at Clark Street Ale House Bernadette Peters & the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra Historic Theatre Tour <em>Love's Labor's Lost</em>