Elgin Walkabout theme for 2014 is baseball

Elgin Walkabout will be held Aug. 8-10. Here, Janus Theatre participates in a past Walkabout.  | SUBMITTED
Elgin Walkabout will be held Aug. 8-10. Here, Janus Theatre participates in a past Walkabout. | SUBMITTED

Nothing goes together quite like summer and baseball, and the national pastime will be front and center at this year’s Walkabout: Theater on Your Feet.

The Janus Theater Company swings for the fences when it presents the seventh annual Walkabout: Theater on Your Feet event in downtown Elgin.

Walkabout 2014: Bases Loaded comes to Elgin this weekend, with performances beginning at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tours run every 15 minutes for an hour after the starting time.

If you haven’t been to a Walkabout before, it is exactly what it claims to be: theater on your feet. Tour guides lead groups of people to downtown locations where they will see short plays performed. Each year the event has a theme, and this year’s is all about hot dogs, peanuts and baseball, said Walkabout creator and Janus Theater artistic director Sean Hargadon.

Members of the Janus Theater Company perform the plays at various places in Elgin, beginning at the Elgin Public House. From there, participants will head to the Blue Box Café and Side Street Studio Arts, before finishing the tour at Al’s Café.

All the plays deal with baseball throughout history; its nostalgia, controversy, comedy and power to bring people together, he said.

“It kind of surprised me — sports plays, what are they going to be like? But it’s amazing how different storylines touch on baseball and the way it affects different people,” he said. “Like, a piece that talks about a couple and husband who’s extremely obsessed with baseball. Another piece is about a couple who has a lively, comedic debate about the challenges the sport has had in recent years, especially back in the steroid era. Then you’ve got a piece about a young man who dreams about becoming a major league baseball player and striking out a great player from the past. And another piece, which is probably the most touching piece — funny, but most touching — is about a veteran who returns and the one thing that gives him the most pleasure is watching baseball games.”

The plays are all funny but have some weight to them, he said.

“There’s a lot of humor in the pieces but we try to bring a little more touching, heartfelt moments as well,” he said.

Hargadon hopes that the subject matter will draw new fans to the theater.

“I hope people have a great time, that’s really what it’s about. I hope they see the theater in a different way,” he said.

“What I’ve learned over the years is folks love to check out how you … present a play in a café or a pub or an art gallery. They like the walking part of it, too,” he said. “We have a lot of followers and it’s a busy weekend. It’s become its own tradition. People like going to a different place and all of a sudden a play pops up in front of them. It’s a very organic experience. It’s not all the formality of a regular production. It’s a much more loose, fun experience.”

He recommends purchasing tickets online to reserve a spot. Another tip: wear your walking shoes. The event takes places rain or shine.

‘Walkabout: theater on your feet’

Aug. 8-10

Elgin Public House, 219 E. Chicago St.

Tickets, $18-$20

(847) 841-1713

elginwalkabout.com

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