Enchanted Tightrope brings fairy magic and wireframe to Chicago’s parks

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AVONDALE – Many children dream of finding fairies in gardens and forests. Circus performers Molly Plunk and Laura Torres make this magic happen.

The duo are showcasing their Enchanted Tightrope program in six city parks at multiple events through August 30.

Credit: Elisa Shoenberger / Block Club Chicago
Molly Plunk balancing on the wire.

With two shows in each park, Plunk and Torres, disguised as fairies, delight audiences as they walk and dance on cables 6 feet in the air.

Plunk, a Chicago-based wire artist and clown, decided to apply to the Park District program because she wanted to “try to give people something beautiful to watch and have something people can observe while enjoying.” of nature “.

When offered the opportunity to participate by her longtime coach, Torres was elated.

“I was training on my own during the pandemic, but I wasn’t sure if and when I would have the chance to play, so it’s a real treat,” she said. “The local performing arts are a fragile ecosystem hit hard by the pandemic, so I am grateful for the outdoor events we can still see and do. “

Plunk chose the fairy theme for the shows because she likes the idea of ​​a magical creature related to nature.

“They’re incredibly linked to our planet Earth, and so I think when we encourage that kind of connection with fairies, we ultimately deepen our connection to our planet,” she said.

Torres and Plunk dance, sit and stand on the wire to the chorus of Irish and Spanish music. The performance is not linear, so watchers don’t have to worry about following a plot.

“Enchanted Tightrope is an invitation to come play in the parks and watch fairies walk a tightrope,” Plunk said. “It doesn’t ask a lot of the public. It kind of invites you to be present, to imagine and to play.

Torres hopes people watching can relax and learn, and “be inspired by the paradoxically calm and suspenseful beauty that’s wired.” Wirewalking is a fairly specialized circus art, and this event is special in that it only focuses on wirewalking.

With the debut of Enchanted Tightrope at Avondale Park on August 17, kids have already gotten the idea. Plunk said many children showed up in their fairy costumes, calling it “a kind of live role-playing event for the fairies.” The artists also took the time to take photos socially with the children.

Credit: Supplied / Pietre Valbuena
Molly Plunk balancing on the wire.

Plunk has been clowning since the late 2000s and has been learning the wireframe since the early 2010s. She has performed all over town including the Actor’s Gymnasium, Misfit Circus, The Neo-futurists and Redmoon Theater. , as well as with circuses outside of Chicago, including the eighth-generation Traveling Zoppé Circus and New York’s Bindestiff Family Cirkus.

Torres is a community organizer and multidisciplinary artist who teaches novice wireframe artists.

The six parks where they will perform were chosen because they had a pre-existing gymnastics or dance program or they are parks known for their nature, like North Park and Garfield Park. All performances are done outdoors in larger spaces to keep the environment safe.

Getting the wire into the parks, however, is no small feat. Taut wire normally requires a lot of effort to secure it in place, requiring stakes hammering into the ground to support the structure of the taut wire.

But Plunk has a self-supporting wire that doesn’t need stakes and only takes 30 minutes to set up. This makes it easier for Enchanted Tightrope to go to more places without the setup and teardown that other platforms might require.

Wirewalking is not for the faint of heart.

“It’s hard to be out in the sun, and even a strong breeze can throw you off balance on the wire, but the crowd has been great,” Torres said. “They are so generous and seem happy to just vibrate with a few fairies walking the wire.”

Plunk hopes adults and children alike enjoy Enchanted Tightrope and know that a tightrope is possible.

“You don’t know what’s possible until you witness it,” she said. “It’s a place where art meets athletics. And I want kids and adults to see it and know it’s an option for them too.

The Enchanted Tightrope range:

  • Monday: Morgan Park Sports Center, 11505 S. Western Ave.
  • Wednesday: Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave.
  • Friday: North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski Road
  • August 30: McKinley Park, 2210 W. Pershing Road

The performance of the Garfield Park Conservatory requires pre-registration for the gardens.

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Credit: Elisa Shoenberger / Block Club Chicago
Laura Torres throws herself on the wire.
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