In A World Where Trees Talk And Giants Walk, Why Not A Set That Lives And Breathes?

In Ghostlight Ensemble’s latest production, actors throw their whole selves – literally – into telling the story of a giant who brings on a perpetual winter in an effort to keep his land to himself. The Selfish Giant, which opens June 8, is a physical theatre reimagining of the Oscar Wilde short story of the same name.

Weaving movement and words into a highly physical form of storytelling, this intimate production tells the tale of an angry giant who builds a wall to keep children off his land, but discovers the perils of isolation and the negative consequences of selfishness.

“The themes of this story, originally published in 1888, resonate with modern audiences, tackling issues that we are still very much grappling with,” said Maria Burnham, the playwright and a co-director of the production. “The story is almost too relevant.”

This production removes the religious overtones of Wilde’s original short story and replaces it with a morality tale that focuses on character redemption and the power of love. It also moves the story off the page by relying solely on the actors who are telling it, illustrating to the audience another theme of the story – how much better we can be when we all work together.

The adaptation uses a chorus to embody human characters and mythical beasts. The actors build the world of trees, birds, benches and beasts with their bodies.

“Physical theatre is really much more about, not a singular person, but what a group can provide you. What can we build together as opposed to one person standing and saying ‘Hey I’m a giant’ or ‘I’m a tree’,” said Miona Lee, co-director and movement choreographer for the production. “The story itself is very much about inclusiveness and the way we’re building our world as well is really inclusive.”

The Selfish Giant was part of a collection of stories for children by Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, first published in May 1888. In the story, the selfish giant builds a wall around his beautiful garden to keep children out. By doing so, he creates a perpetual winter in the garden, because no other season wanted to be part of his selfish endeavor. Then one morning, a special child brings spring back, and the giant’s heart melts along with the snow.

The Selfish Giant stars Jean E. Burr as Lydia and Tamsen Glaser, Molly Gloeckner, Sophia Hail, Nate Hall, Song Marshall, Daniela Martinez, Kali Skatchke, Maggie Blair Smith and Zoe Savransky as a chorus of characters.

The show was crafted to appeal to all ages and its weekend runs are perfect for families looking for live, daytime entertainment. The Selfish Giant runs June 8-30 on Saturdays at 1 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. at Otherworld Theatre in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago (3914 N. Clark St., 60613) Tickets are on sale now: $10 adults, $5 children 12 and under, or $25 family of four.

The Selfish Giant is part of Ghostlight’s summer Nightlight series.

Nightlight is Ghostlight’s summer young audience series with original, adapted and forgotten plays geared toward children and the adults who love them. Ghostlight believes theatre can be a beacon for children, letting them know they aren’t alone in the world, giving them a sense of security and revealing the truth that in stories they can be anything they want to be. You’re never too young – or too old – for a nightlight.

Donate to children, earn a reward!

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Did you know we’ve put together some very special gifts for the donors to our The Selfish Giant fundraiser? From growing your own garden to headshots and more.

Read all about the show here and then go donate here.

By donating you help keep our ticket prices affordable for all families in Chicago.

Levels include:

$25 GARDEN LEVEL: Start your own urban garden with a Grow Your Own Garden Kit and receive a ticket to the show, as well as thanks in our program.

$50 OGRE LEVEL: Join cast members and the director of The Selfish Giant after a performance for apple pie and milk and to learn more about physical storytelling. Bring your kids (or you friends’ kids) so they can learn how to turn everyday objects into props to create their own plays at home. Plus: A ticket to the show, as well thanks in the program

$75 NORTH WIND LEVEL: Get a headshot session with our company photographer who will offer you one look (a.k.a. outfit, but a variety of expressions within that one outfit) and guarantee a photo you’re happy with, or you’ll get a makeup session. You get all the photos from the session on a disc to use as you wish without watermarks. This offer is regardless of whether you’re an actor looking for fresh headshots, one of our business friends looking to spruce up your LinkedIn page or an animal lover looking for a professional photo of your pupper (did we mention, this wasn’t limited to humans!) Plus two tickets to The Selfish Giant, as well as thanks in the program

$100 or more GIANT LEVEL: A Nightlight Gift bag, featuring your choice of a Nightlight T-shirt or tote bag, among other items, plus two tickets to The Selfish Giant as well as thanks in the program.

Meet the cast of The Selfish Giant


Up next for Ghostlight is The Selfish Giant, part of our Nightlight young audiences series.

Based on Oscar Wilde's short story of the same name, The Selfish Giant is a story that illustrates the perils of isolation and the negative consequences of selfishness, but it also teaches us that it is never too late for redemption and for love.

We're excited to announce the cast for this ensemble production: Jean E. Burr, Tamsen Glaser, Molly Gloeckner, Sophia Hail, Nate Hall, Song Marshall, Daniela Martinez, Kali Skatchke, Maggie Blair Smith and Zoe Savransky.

The show is directed by Maria Burnham and Miona Lee.

This production will intrigue children and parents alike, not just with its story, but with its method of storytelling. The adaptation uses a chorus of actors to embody human characters and mythical beasts, while building the world of trees, birds, benches and beasts with their bodies. This physical theater piece relies almost completely on the ensemble of actors telling the story.

The show runs June 8-30 on Saturdays at 1 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. at Otherworld Theatre, 3914 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60613. Tickets will be on sale soon.

Costume Designer needed for 'Picasso at the Lapin Agile'

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Ghostlight Ensemble seeks a Costume Designer for its production of Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile. The absurdist comedy imagines a meeting between Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso just before the renowned scientist transformed physics with his theory of relativity and the celebrated painter sets the art world afire with cubism.

This production will involve sourcing costumes for 10 actors. The play takes place in a single location on a single day.

Schedule Details
Rehearsals begin September 10, 2018, with about 3 to 4 rehearsals a week on weeknights and weekends, crafted around the actors' schedules. Tech is scheduled for October 15-18 in the evenings. Load-in is scheduled for Sunday, October 14.

Performances run October 19 through November 4, 2018, on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons at Otherworld Theatre in the Lakeview neighborhood in Chicago.

The stipend for this position is $150.

Please send your resume, links to any relevant work/websites and a statement of interest to production manager Chad Wise at

The King calls on his tiniest subjects to show up in style

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Norman J. Burt has an announcement for all the tiniest members of the Land of Contentment, where he reigns as King on the weekends:


Burt will put on his duct tape crown only two more times, this Saturday and Sunday, as the show he is acting in – Ghostlight Ensemble's The Princess Without Pots – comes to a close. But he wants to make sure they go out with a bang…or maybe a flourish of trumpets would be more appropriate.

Read more about Norm and his work on The Princess Without Pots in the Lakeview Patch.

Alternate poster design for The Princess Without Pots (Day 2)

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We've been asking our young audience members at The Princess Without Pots to come with some alternate poster art for the show, which will be featured here and on social media.

Today's design is by Sydney Morkunas , age 5, of Chicago.

The Princess Without Pots is an empowering fairy tale about the importance of never underestimating your opponent or the power of a delicious baked good. In it, Princess Cristina’s parents have decided it’s time for their daughter to marry, so all the princes from all the lands come hoping to marry her. But, to win this princess’s heart, a prince first needs to win a battle against the fiercest warrior the age had ever seen – Princess Cristina. Learn more on the show page.

If your budding artist has a design for us, remember you can always scan it in and email it to us at maria(at)