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Sad Songs for Bad People

by Rough House Puppet Theater (Chicago)


“Sad Songs for Bad People’ isn’t just a darkly humorous puppet show, it’s also a beautifully realized meta theatrical statement about why we sing sad songs and what they mean to us.” 

-Eli Keel, LEO Weekly. 


The shows are exquisite: carefully crafted, blackly humorous, and lovely. Chicago demands a great deal of its puppeteers—we have some of the best, from Michael Montenegro to Blair Thomas , the bar is very high, and Rough House exceeds expectations, jumping over the bar(…) It won’t just be the ghosts of the departed puppets that will return to haunt you, it will be the emotions you unearth as you go on the journey with Rough House. You will laugh, you will think, you might cry." 

– Angela Allyn, The Chicago Stage Standard


“People who would like this show are people who like creepy murder songs, powerful women, and figurative and literal mashups. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is a small company that should get noticed, and I really loved this show.”

- Ada Grey, Ada Grey Reviews for you






The Show:

Sad Songs for Bad People invites you to trade in your troubles for an evening of murder ballads, ditties of death, and songs of tragic misfortune. Armed with piles of puppets, an arsenal of musical instruments, and a cheerful obsession with the macabre, the Sad Songs band is determined to put on one helluva show. But as puppet casualties accumulate, ill-buried tension begins to surface and threatens to shatter the band’s sunny facade. Rough House Theater’s Sad Songs for Bad People will thrill you, shock you, gingerly prod the soft spot in your heart, and sate the hunger for dark puppet theater you never knew you had.


The production is part concert, part grisly puppet show, part narrative human drama. The cast of musicians/actors/puppeteers perform puppet-rock covers of seven grisly numbers by artists such as Dolly Parton, Tom Waits, and the Shangri-Las. Between songs, we watch the band struggle through their own drama, both interpersonal and internal.


The Company:

Rough House Puppet Theater uses puppetry, music, and human performance to tell stories that are intimate, strange, and sincere. Rough House was born in 2012 in a dilapidated storefront of Chicago’s old Congress Theater building. In the years since, Rough House has headlined the National Puppetry Festival and Open Eye Figure Theater’s Toy Theater After Dark Festival. The company has been a proud contributor to such Chicago institutions as Brain Frame and the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival.  Rough House has toured across the United States, performing in auditoriums, galleries, bars, lotion factories, funeral homes, punk houses and even the 

woods of Appalachia.

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