An ‘L’ of a portrayal: Waltzing Mechanics takes on Adham Fisher


Kelsey Peterson, left, as Adham Fisher. Photo courtesy of Waltzing Mechanics.

Last Saturday my ‘L’ racing partner Danny Resner and I caught a performance of the current incarnation of the show “EL Stories,” which uses the CTA race we lost against Leicester, England, native Adham Fisher as a framing device. Created by the Waltzing Mechanics theater troupe, the performance piece features a series of vignettes based on stories recorded from actual transit riders. Here’s a write-up I did of a previous version of the show.

Grid Chicago readers will recall that Adham returned to Chicago in April to reclaim his record for visiting all 143 stations (at the time; two new ones have opened since then) in the shortest possible time, which Danny I beat last winter. Scott Presslak and Kevin Olsta beat our time in early April, and were in turn bested by Rob Bielaski and Ben Downey later that month.

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To ‘L’ and back: a performance piece celebrates the CTA


Cast members from “EL Stories” – all photos courtesy of Waltzing Mechanics

This piece also ran in “Checkerboard City,” John’s sustainable transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.

Driving isolates you from the outside world, but walking, biking and especially public transit encourage interaction with strangers, which can lead to some unforgettable encounters. The performance piece “EL Stories,” based on real tales from CTA commuters recorded by Waltzing Mechanics theater company, capitalizes on this.

“The Chicago ‘L’ is a shared, communal space that hundreds of thousands of people come together and inhabit every day,” says cast member Eleni Pappageorge. “When you bring that many people from that many places into one space a lot can happen. Some of the smallest, most mundane events on the train can make beautiful stories, but you wouldn’t notice them with your iPod on.”

Continue reading To ‘L’ and back: a performance piece celebrates the CTA