Redmoon, the theatrical production company known for elaborate public spectacles often featuring large-scale puppets and unlikely mechanical contraptions, is closing up shop, artistic director Jim Lasko confirmed in a phone interview today.
"It was a difficult decision," Lasko said. "In the end, we couldn’t see being able to create enough revenue to support the kind of public work we were committed to creating."
Earlier this month, Redmoon had canceled its annual Winter Pageant, scheduled to run over the last two weekends; last week, the company called off its New Year's eve celebration, Revolution, citing problems with its building at 2120 S Jefferson St in Pilsen. The Tribune reported late last week that Redmoon had fallen more than $60,000 behind in rent on the space. Lasko confirmed today that Redmoon is in the process of being evicted.
The company's end caps a 25-year history of public performances, often staged in Chicago parks with no charge for admission. These outdoor spectacles were often subsidized by Redmoon's work providing entertainment and creative food service for corporate events. "We’ve always been innovating to create revenue streams that could support creating public work for free," Lasko says.
Redmoon was featured on the cover of Time Out Chicago's first print issue in 2005.
One of the company's highest-profile events in recent years was a literal fizzle: The inaugural Great Chicago Fire Festival in 2014 drew thousands of spectators to the banks of the Chicago River to witness floating houses go ablaze to commemorate the 1871 conflagration that leveled much of the city, but in cold, soggy weather, the structures failed to light. A second, reconfigured festival this fall at Northerly Island was more successful, but Lasko says Redmoon barely pulled it off. "We were really close to the bone in that second year," he says. "We had really pushed ourselves to get it up, and it was clear we weren’t going to be able to do it again for a third year."
Ultimately, the group decided its time had come, Lasko says. "Rather than scale back and pull out of that space and shrink down, we thought it had more integrity to close up and celebrate what we’ve been able to do," he says. "It’s easy to look at the things that went wrong, but I really do feel like so much was right for so very long, and I’m very proud of what we were able to do, the work that got done and the people who have grown out of Redmoon."