If a spectacle is "an eye-catching or dramatic display," then Redmoon Theater's "Youth Spectacle" is certain to live up to that definition.
The event, at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum May 18-20, brings together the creative talent of more than 750 school-aged kids from Chicago in a "live installation" that combines visual and performance art.
"It has a wild science-fair feel to it," says Angela Tillges, Redmoon's director of Neighborhood Arts Programming. "It's appropriate for everyone. The work is very playful. None of the concepts are too heavy or too light."
The theme of the youth spectacle is nature in the city of Chicago, showcasing the urban ecosystem as it's seen from the eyes of young people from first grade up to high school.
Elements of the spectacle include shadow animation, sound installation, surreal visual art and performances.
Tillges says one of the must-sees of the show will be an installation that high school students designed, a simulation of a classroom that includes mechanical birds the students designed and built.
Redmoon conducts residencies in locations across the city, and the first-ever Youth Spectacle is the culmination of recent programs in Audubon Elementary School in Roscoe Village, St. Patrick's High School in Portage Park, Family Focus Lawndale and the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center.
"Kids are making real culture, and we believe that the act of making culture is the act of social change," Tillges says. "There's something transformative that happens for a young person when they see other people looking at their work and understanding something or reacting to it."
Tillges says she wants people to see the importance of creative opportunities for kids. She hopes the exhibit, and its context within the nature museum, gets visitors thinking about the intersection of natural and urban elements in our city.
"It ends up being a celebration of Chicago from many different standpoints," she says.
And like any good spectacle, it will be here and gone before you realize it.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.