OraGhostbattle-003

5F, 4M – flexible

Ora and Eddie fell in love with Chicago on their bikes. But when Eddie is hit by a car and killed, Ora refuses to let him go. Instead, she rides beneath our city to bring him back, facing off against underworld gods and ghosts – some interested in helping her, some determined to get in her way. The more difficult her journey becomes, the more Ora must question what it is she’s journeying towards. Chicago culture skitches off of Greek, African, and Chinese mythology, sparking a spirited mash-up of underworld and after-life as seen from the seats of fixies, BMX’s and ten-speeds.

 

Productions

March-April 2014

Professional world premiere, Buzz22 Chicago at Greenhouse Theater

dir. Sara Sawicki

February 2013

Production, San Francisco University High School, San Francisco

dir. Susannah Martin

January 2013

Remount of Carthage College production at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, Region III – Saginaw Valley State University, Michigan

dir. Herschel Kruger

February 2012

World premiere, Carthage College, Kenosha

dir. Herschel Kruger

Press

“Inspired riff on Orpheus and Eurydice, [plus a] stage full of bicycles. [A] genuine charmer . . . Lovely, smart, heartbreaking.”
- Chicago Sun-Times

“A fantastical quest tale of a young woman grieving the loss of a loved one. . . . Ora’s quest is well constructed, and director Sara Sawicki’s snappy, inventively physical staging and her game actors’ embrace of the approach are reminiscent, in the best way, of the early years of the House Theatre. It’s a sincerely solid ride.”
- TimeOut Chicago

‘”Starlight Express’ meets Dante’s “Inferno.” The familiar trappings of Chicago culture mixed with Greek, African and Chinese mythology, enhanced with poetic staging, wrenching performances and technical skill that offer a coherent, universal message. [The] small and mighty Aurora Adachi-Winter [and her best friend Eddie], played with aching humanity by the understated Staffieri. . . . Emotionally, achingly relatable. . . . A quirky win that authentically mixes tragedy and the type of gallows humor that only survivors of the absurd can comprehend. Buzz22’s “Ghost Bike” is well strategized, well acted and oh, so sorely infused with universal truth.”
- Chicago Edge

“The young cast is engaging and easily delivers this blending of timeless, universal myth with contemporary language and situations. . . . Ora’s encounters with the inhabitants of the afterlife are downright enjoyable.”
- NewCity Chicago

“Alice in the Underworld. Sara Sawicki directs this fast-paced play with a firm hand, infusing her production with Dan Carlyon’s atmospheric sound design, Jeff Glass‘ eye-popping lighting and John Wilson’s flexible, expressionistic fantastic scenic design adorned with bicycle frames and wheels. The ensemble cast…morph in and out of their characters with the ease and velocity of a speed racer. Every actor’s a master cyclist zipping around the Greenhouse stage and up and down the aisles at breakneck speed. Ricky Staffieri infuses Eddie with a likable, dorky quality and a quiet earnestness.”
- Centerstage

“Like a bike outta Hades, [Ghost Bike is] a lively play of literal punk rock gods . . . fun and sweet and painful and thrilling all at once and perhaps one of the most active and inventive shows this year. … I am much obliged to playwright Laura Jacqmin for her smart and resourceful welding together of the mythologies of death, the old stories our ancestors faced when they slipped or were propelled across the threshold of the hereafter, and the city of Chicago and all its attendant tenacity. Ours is a patchwork city, knitted from a score of cultures and communities, and it is only logical that the underworld beneath our parks and pavement should be the same: a confederation of Japanese, African, Greek, and Nordic afterlives, rough and tumble boroughs for the dead. Jacqmin has fitted all these elements together into a bright and intricate world, given it two wheels (and no brakes) and handed it over to Sara Sawicki and her cast to try it out and pop a few wheelies of artistic brilliance. … Sawicki has done an exquisite job of choreographing the energy of this constantly peddling story. She keeps the wonderlandian quality of the underworld on a short leash, and never loses sight of the bleeding heart of Ora’s pain.”
- Chicago Theater Review

“Buzz22′s world premiere production of Laura Jacqmin’s Ghost Bike has proved that the young theater company is growing up into something extremely impressive. …Composer Matt Deitchman’s score offers the perfect mix of melancholy and menace. Ghost Bike is an acting showcase for women, and Adachi-Winter projects her struggles with growing up by being alternately tough and scared and vulnerable. She’s accompanied by an excellent ensemble. . . . A play that will ring true for anyone who’s ever have to struggle with leaving a friend behind in order to move forward.”
- Stage and Cinema

“Playfully picaresque . . . Greek mythology by way of Chicago’s bike lanes propels Laura Jacqmin‘s quirky, fast-paced take on death, grief and moving on. Ingeniously staged by Buzz22′s Sara Sawicki, Ghost Bike pedals along at a quick pace and boasts an impressive amount of actual on-stage cycling. . . . Sawicki’s staging is at its best when Ora encounters the gods, monsters and cliques of dead souls that lurk beneath. Ora’s confrontation with a snapping, growling trio of hellish hounds (think Cerberus) is marvelously vivid and threaded with humor amid the menace. Choreographer Nathan Drackett brings the underworld’s dangerous river to life in a fantastic scene that depicts water as the tragic repository of lost souls. … A pleasant, bike-centric diversion.”
- Chicago Theater Beat

“I thought that this was a very good play, and I was crying at the end, and I am also still kind of crying now. . . . People who would like this show are people who like friendship, mythology, and awesome tall pink bikes. People should go see this show because it is funny, the set is awesome, and it is bittersweet. It teaches you about how to let go of somebody you love and it also teaches you about mythology in many different cultures.”
- Ada Grey Reviews For You (Chicago’s favorite 9-year-old theater critic)

“Most adults have learned to accept death as a sad inevitability, but for young people first confronting it, the sudden disappearance of a loved one forever calls into question the order of the entire cosmos. A playwright writing about this experience must understand its cataclysmic proportions, and the despair too often exacerbated by parents and peers demanding a premature cessation to its unsettling repercussions. Laura Jacqmin acknowledges her heroine’s crisis of faith by allowing the bereaved Ora, after fleeing a squad of oppressive therapists, to embark on a journey through the realm of the dead, equipped only with her bicycle, a magic GPS device and a few talismans associated with the deceased friend ( significantly named Eddie ) who long ago taught her to ride the velocipedal wind. Since an adolescent’s grief encompasses the entire universe, a panoply of necrodeities—Greek, Hindu, Buddhist, Norse— are recruited to assist the teenaged crusader determined to restore her comrade to the living, whatever the sacrifice.

Oh, but Buzz22 Chicago – the ensemble that conjured a Dungeons-and-Dragons fantasy kingdom in the Steppenwolf Garage for Qui Nguyen’s She Kills Monsters in 2012 – doesn’t stop at allegorical hypotheses. Instead, John Wilson’s scenic design configures the Greenhouse’s upstairs auditorium into a labyrinth of curtained and ramped paths for George Bajalia and Molly Fitzmaurice’s dazzling array of wheeled vehicles—neon-hued BMXes, baroque modified Huffies, inline skates, rolling walkers, kick-scooters—conveying the underworld denizens on their assigned activities. Izumi Inaba’s costumes and Jeff Glass’ lighting likewise evoke a multicultural pantheon ranging from the, literally, two-faced Hel and the scavenging Datsue-ba to a band of Lethewater-swilling slackers and a roiling river of malcontents ferried by a weary Charon.

When Eddie finally speeds Ora on her way back to the light, our elation is as manifest as our epiphany upon sighting the sidewalk shrine erected to his memory (coincidentally, called a “ghost bike”).”
- Windy City Times