Pivot Arts and Loyola University’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts (DFPA) continue their partnership with a unique Performing Arts Incubator Program for professional artists, which includes mentorships for Loyola undergraduates. This year for the first time the incubator will take place during Loyola’s summer session and culminate with a showing of works-in-progress as part of the Pivot Arts Festival. The entire program runs from May 21-June 10. Applications are due December 11, 2017 and you can apply here: APPLY.

The program provides companies and/or ensembles of artists time and space to develop work that is innovative and often blurs the boundaries between music, dance, theater and other disciplines. Projects are often devised works, scripts-in-progress and range from the gem of an idea to a nearly completed work that needs more time in development.


Rough House Theater, the critically acclaimed Chicago puppet company will develop a new work Cicada Summer, a coming-of-age story and interspecies tragedy that involves a love between a human boy and a girl who is part human part insect. The piece will be brought to life with performers, puppets and a live music soundscape.

Director Olivia Lilley of the Runaways will work with a choreographer, actors and dancers on her new play She Loves New York, a dance pop drama about sex, love, the self and New York City. The play uses dance and text to tell the story of two young women whose dreams take a tailspin during the 2008 economic crash.

Finally, performance artist Corey Smith directs New Prairie School, a multi-media performance with collaborators interdisciplinary artist Lindsey Barlag-Thornton and percussionist Chris Sies. A hybrid piece of movement, music and text, New Prairie School uses 19th century architecture, pop songs, movement, performance art and theater to examine the culture of Midwest America.

Other Past Participants:

Playwright and Literary Manager of Victory Gardens, Isaac Gomez, who developed a script that integrates traditional Mexican music as a core storytelling component. Entitled, THE WOMEN OF JUAREZ, this ethnographic piece focuses on the mass murder of women in the Ciudad Juarez, Mexicousing testimonials of real women from the city, resulting in a multidisciplinary work that challenges the boundaries of traditional storytelling.

terraNOVA Collective developed DON CHIPOTLE, a multi-medium play written by award winning playwright and performer Juan Villa. Inspired by the classic tale Don Quixote and Villa’s own experience growing up in the violent atmosphere of lower East Side Manhattan, DON CHIPOTLE uses puppetry, music, song and dialogue to create a magical adventure about an uninhibited child who has his childhood taken away.

Laboratory for the Development of Substitute Materials (LDSM) worked on  STRUCTURAL REMAINS: A MEMORY EXPERIMENT, a devised piece based on abandoned buildings and the memories that remain. LDSM is a devised theatre collective consisting of Seth Bockley, Rachel Claff, Chloe Johnston, Ira S. Murfin, Kerensa Peterson, Angela Tillges and Seth Zurer. They seek to make collectively devised, research-based work that explores issues arising from scientific research and the built environment using the tools and techniques of theatre.

Vanessa Valliere combines puppetry and dance and created NICE TRY, an interactive clown show based around the idea of an impaired performer that subsequently played as part of the 2015 Pivot Arts Festival. Amidst an adventure of dolls, a burlesque show and mashed potatoes, Valliere’s well-meaning clown aims to please… and her utterly unique failure inevitably delights the audience. Valliere is a performer, clown, and proud nerd-cheerleader for Chicago’s own thirty-piece marching band, Mucca Pazza.

2014 Artists

Hearts and Brains further developed GASHLYCRUMB ORPHANGE, an immersive clown show based on the gleefully macabre world of author/illustrator (and Rogers Park native) Edward Gorey.

The Dilettantes developed Science Night, a live, interactive game composed of middle-school style science experiments.  The Dilettantes is a three-person collective consisting of: Erika Grammel, Rebecca Stevens and Aaron Weissman.

Playright and rock journalist, Mark Guarino teams up with rocker and founder of the British band, the Mekons, Jon Langford to create a new musical about a man with an ailing wife who convinces the city of Roswell, NM to build an alien theme park.

Nationally respected puppeteer and founder of Redmoon Theater Company, Blair Thomas, created a puppetry work accompanied by the music of Chopin entitled, CHOPIN “SCHERZO IN B MINOR.”

2013 Artists

Chicago Opera Vanguard’s “The Passion of Joseph Smith,” a new opera with music by Eric Reda (Artistic Director, COV) and with lyrics by Philip Dawkins (Victory Gardens Associate).

Dog & Pony Theatre Co. explores the relationship between Richard Wagner and Ludwig II in a new play about art, money and lust. dogandponychicago.org

Ruth Margraff, playwright and musician develops her working-class, world folk opera THREE GRACES based in “emotional vibrato” –a technique that explores the boundaries between speaking and singing.