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What is Physical Theater Festival?

Physical Theater Festival is an annual contemporary, visual, and physical theater festival that presents new forms of theater that are being performed around the world.


Physical Theater Festival began at Links Hall in the summer of 2014. The eleventh annual festival will happen from July 13-21, 2023.


What will I see at Physical Theater Festival?


The Festival seeks to program work that uses cutting-edge, on-the-pulse theatrical forms that are responding to the contemporary moment using contemporary notions of theater.



The Festival seeks to offer work that elevates the visual aspects of its stories, theater which is occupied with the creation of visual atmospheres and images as much as verbal text.



The Festival seeks to present work that pursues storytelling through primarily physical means, whose aim is to create original stories which start and end with the body as the foundational textual source.

Our Story

In 2014, Alice da Cunha and Marc Frost launched the inaugural Physical Theater Festival through the Artistic Associate program at Links Hall. The inspiration for the Festival drew upon their combined experience in London as physical theater students at the London International School for the Performing Arts (LISPA). Moving from London to Chicago, they were inspired to start a new festival to promote a more progressive, fresh and physical approach to theater-making in Chicago.

2024 Producer's Board

The Producer’s Board supports Physical Theater Festival Chicago (PTFC) in its mission to make Chicago a home for local, national and international physical theater. Members of the Producer’s Board are tasked with raising funds through a “give or get” model to support the annual summer Festival. Board members enjoy a close relationship with the Festival’s curators.

Elise and Ira Frost

Josh and Jess Frost

Maggie Kast

Lauren Schrero and Adam Levy

Pat Yuzawa-Rubin and Jack Rubin

Laura and Michael Werner

2024 Festival Team


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Co-Founders & Co-Artistic Directors


ALICE DA CUNHA is a Brazilian/Portuguese actress, director and producer who has worked in Portugal, the UK and the US. She is a Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Physical Theater FestivalHer past experiences working in festivals include: Marketing Director, CASA (London's Latin American Theatre Festival); Producer/Presenter/Curator, Shortcutz London (weekly short film festival); Production Assistant, TODOS Festival (an interdisciplinary festival in Lisbon, Portugal); Hospitality, Chicago Latino Film Festival.

A brief list of her acting credits include: United Flight 232 (House Theater) -Jeff Award for Best Ensemble & Midsize Production-, La Ruta (Steppenwolf Theater), The Clean House (Remy Bumppo) & This Much is True (Theater 503, UK). Recent directing credits include: The Crone Chronicles (Pride Arts Chicago; PhysFest NYC) and Co-Direction of The Dream King (Teatro Vista) - Jeff Award Nomination for Best Direction. Alice is also an Artistic Consultant to Theater Unspeakable and Adjunct Professor at Loyola University. 


MARC FROST is an actor, deviser, educator and Chicago native who has performed and produced work in Brazil, Ireland, Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom. He created Theater Unspeakable as a platform for original works of devised, physical theater. Based in Chicago, the award-winning company has toured nationally, performing at venues including Lincoln Center Education (NY) and Kennedy Center (DC). He currently teaches at Columbia College Chicago and Roosevelt University. Frost is also a proud graduate of the Commercial Theatre Institute’s 14-Week Training Program for Commercial Theatre Producers in New York City.

Tech Director


NOAH ELMAN is a director, designer, and theatre maker based out of Chicago. Prior to moving to Chicago, he served as the Lead Audience Interaction Designer at the Kitchen Theatre and the General Manager for The Cherry Arts. Since arriving, he has had the opportunity to work with Boho Theatre, Music Theater Works, and Mudlark Theatre among others and currently works as a stage manager at Second City. He most recently directed Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins with Strawdog Theatre. He holds a BFA from the State University of New York at Fredonia and trained under Anne Bogart and the SITI Company.


Marketing Director

ALEX MIRANDA is a marketing specialist with several years of experience in creative advertising and digital marketing in Brazil and the US. For the past four years, Alex has volunteered for Partners of the Americas coordinating the communications of the Brazilian Film Festival in Chicago, an annual event that shows "Brazilian films with a social conscience." Currently, He is pursuing his Master's Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at Roosevelt University Chicago.

Communication Manager

COURTNEY LEE KNIGHT (she/they) is a theatre artist and writer working within the mediums of stage and screen acting, puppetmaking, traditional fiction, and video games. A graduate of Cal State Long Beach, she’s currently creating from good ol' Logan Square, Chicago. Courtney is also a proud member of SAG-AFTRA and the LMDA. 

Volunteer Coordinator

TARA BOULDREY (they/she/xe) is a dedicated theatre artist and seasoned arts administrator with over 15 years of experience in physical theatre & immersive events design and production. Tara is deeply grateful for the Physical Festival community, and cherishes the catharsis, inspiration, and growth that volunteering for the festival nearly every year since 2016 has granted them. Tara's extensive background in arts administration includes roles such as Co-founder & Director of Development for The (Beat) Theatre Collective, and Company Member & Business Development Officer for What A Do Theatre. They also currently manage special events and general operations for Rough Magic Games and have been involved in various levels of production at festivals and large-scale events of all shapes and sizes, including ArtPrize, the Electric Forest Festival, Sum of Us Festival, and C2E2. Tara has been a Chicago Saint since May 2023, and is also the Founder and Executive Director of 3rd Contact Immersive, an organization dedicated to creating immersive experiences that inspire empathy and social responsibility in audiences and artists alike. For more, please visit 

Scratch Night Curators

Scratch Night Summer

KEVIN MICHAEL WESSON (he/they) is a proudly unrepresented puppeteer/deviser based in Chicago, originally from Tampa, FL (B.A. theatre arts, University of South Florida). Recent credits as a physical theatre performer include: Leonardo! & Christmas Carol (Manual Cinema), “Where we go together” or The Flashlight Play (Theatre Nobody), Dog or Cats; Augmented Body (Steppenwolf LOOKOUT), House of the Exquisite Corpse I-III (Rough House Theater), All is Blue & Yellow (Collective Summ), Elements of Style (The Neo-Futurists),The Dr. Seuss Experience (Kilburn Live). His works have been mentioned in American Theatre Magazine, No Proscenium, The Puppetry Journal, NPR, and nomination for the National Puppet Slam. A firm believer in DIY ethos, they currently organize works-in-progress & community programming for the Chicago-based puppet theatre company, Rough House Theater, the performance art company, Stop Motion Plant, and the experimental free theatre outfit, Theatre Nobody.



Scratch Night Winter

SCOTT MERCHANT is a performance artist and theatre maker celebrating over a decade in the Chicago theatre community. A graduate of the Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt University, Scott has had the privilege to perform at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, New Leaf Theatre, Red Twist, Abraham Werewolf, Dog & Pony and is a proud company member of Collaboraction. Scott was Co-director of "TOLLBOOTH: A Clown Show" for First Floor Theatre and a former member of the cult-hit Bouffon troupe Les Enfants Terribles. Over the last several years, he has trained with Eric Davis in Bouffon, Sue Morrison in Pochinko clown in Toronto and with Steve Wasson and Corine Soum in Decroux mime. 



Scratch Night Fall

RAQUEL TORRE (she/her & ella) is a creator/performer from Puerto Rico with a background in physical theatre and devised performance. Since moving to Chicago in 2016, she’s collaborated with UrbanTheater Company, Filament Theatre, Shattered Globe Theatre, The Gift Theatre, Opera-Matic, Playmakers Lab, among others, as a director, movement coach, and actor. In 2013, she co-founded La Vuelta Ensemble (formerly Circo La Vuelta) with Jean Claudio, now a minority-led ensemble with a focus on high physicality and delightful absurdity. Raquel holds a BA in theatre from the Universidad de Sagrado Corazón (Puerto Rico), a certificate in Devised and Movement Theatre from Cabuia Teatro (Argentina), and an MFA in Devised Performance Practice from LISPA/Columbia College Chicago (Berlin/Chicago).


Board of Directors

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EMILIO WILLIAMS is a bilingual (Spanish/English) award-winning writer and educator. His critically acclaimed plays have been produced in Argentina, Estonia, France, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington DC.

His experimental prose has appeared most recently in Brevity MagazineWriting DisorderHinterland MagazineImagined Theatres, and the anthology Beyond Queer Words 2021.


Emilio has lectured around the world, and taught at several U.S. universities, including DePaul University, Columbia College Chicago, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Georgia State University. He holds a BA in Film and Video and an MFA in Writing. He is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists where he is also a faculty member. He divides his time between Chicago and Paris.


AMRITA DHALIWAL (she/her) is an award-winning Punjabi American comedian, arts leader, educator and devising artist based in Los Angeles, whose work spans multiple mediums, from stage to TV & Film. Her work explores the core themes of humanity, like death and love, through a lens of the current social-political climate. A few highlights include The Living Room, a comedy about death and grief, which one Best Comedy at the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival, she was the creator and producer of the hit LA show, Indian Wedding, featured in LA Weekly as “Top 15 Things to do in LA”, and more. Beyond the stage, Amrita co-authored and curated an essay series for HowlRound about clown and activism. For more, go to






Yolanda (she/ella), is an immigrant from Spain and native of Italy, and degreed in Political

Science and Romance Languages. She is a curator and producer of interdisciplinary arts with

25+ years of programming, production management and executive experience. She is founder of Galileo Arts Provisions, with current projects including residencies and new works by Renée Clark Baker, Mariia Plotnikova, Lional Brother El Freeman, and the collective Unfolding Disability Futures. She is North American tour producer for the companies Anywhere (Chicago, USA) and Silencio Blanco (Santiago, Chile). Networks include Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, Physical Theater Festival Chicago, South Side Artists in Sacred Spaces, Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, National Performance Network (NPN), and Creative Independent Producers Alliance (CIPA). Her artist service and research extend to Canada, Mexico, Ibero-Latin America, France, South Asia, Sub-Sahara Africa, Japan, and Australasia. She is Artistic Advisor for Monira Foundation and Arts Midwest. Her most recent advisor and panel service includes for Villa Albertine, Creative Capital, MAP Fund, USArtists International at the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, FACE Foundation’s French US Exchange in Dance (FUSED) and Contemporary Theater, Illinois Arts Council, and City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. She served twice as Curator and Producer of Southern Exposure Performing Americas for the NEA, as a Facilitator of Moving Forward Dialogues Residency for the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC) at Florida State-Tallahassee, and as Hub Site for National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts. She was Curator of Performance at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (1997-2019), where she originated the New Works Development commissioning program and co-created the MCA Stage presenting series, and most recently Artistic Director at High Concept Lab. She is a Practitioner with Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, and recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow Lifetime Award for Humanitarian Work by Rotary International.

SHAWN DOUGLASS is a director, actor, adapter, and Northwestern University Professor of Instruction.  An Artistic Associate for 18 seasons with Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, he received an After Dark award for his portrayal of John Tanner in Man and Superman. Shawn has also performed at Northlight Theatre, Court Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre, Writers’ Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare. He has played in over twenty Shakespearean productions in Chicago, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Montana, Iowa and during three seasons with Wisconsin’s American Players Theatre. 

Directing credits at Remy Bumppo include Chesapeake, The Philadelphia Story and The Importance of Being Earnest, all of which were nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production. Also for Remy Bumppo: Usman Ally’s Public Enemy, part of Remy Bumppo’s thinkTank, an annual project he created and produced to present works addressing pressing social issues such as immigration and national securtiy.   

Other directing credits include Three Views of the Same Object, Ten Questions to ask Your Biology Teacher About Evolution (Next Act Theatre, Milwaukee); Julius Caesar, The Diary of Anne Frank (Theatre at the Center); Love’s Labour’s Lost, Romeo and Juliet (Montana Shakespeare in the Parks); Jimmie Blues and the Strange Case of the Accidental Dancer (Jump Rhythm Jazz Project); Tintypes (Open Door Rep); William Saroyan’s The Beautiful People (Edge of the Wood Theatre); and Holiday (Northwestern).  

Douglass’ adaptation of immigrant oral histories, An Immigrant Class, was staged for Remy Bumppo’s thinkTank.  His adaptation of Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court was read at the Chicago Humanities Festival, and later staged at Northwestern University. In 2021 Shawn created the YouTube and Apple Podcast series An Actor’s Arc tracing the artistic journey of working actors over the course of their professional careers. 

ALICE DA CUNHA (see bio in staff section)


MARC FROST (see bio in staff section)

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