The Quest Theatre Ensemble
Quest Theatre Ensemble is the brainchild of Jason Bowen, Andrew Park and Jeremy Lawson. One night in 2002, the trio invited a collective group of artists--most, if not all, of the artists were schooled together at Indiana State University-- to a meeting in the dining room of their shared apartment.
Having been working (but struggling) artists in Chicago for over two years, something became very apparent to the group: seeing theater was expensive. That reality charged the company to adopt the notion of creating free theater, where they could perform for the widest possible audience, tell stories that had universal appeal and engage audiences of all ages, excluding no one, no matter what.
In order to attract an audience, it was planned that Quest would tour with a story that was universal and use large-scale puppetry to retell familiar stories in a way that no one had ever seen. That inaugural free production was titled Blue Nativity. Over 60 churches were cold called; nine churches accepted the offer. Every year since its inception, Quest has performed Blue Nativity for record audiences in multiple and varied spaces throughout the world.
Another show, Children of the Light--a retelling of the Passion story with large-scale puppetry--was created after multiple requests from churches for Quest to return. The first tour of Children of the Light prompted St. Gregory the Great Church in Andersonville to invite Quest to become a member of their Artist in Residence program. For the last eight years, the parish has housed the company's office on the third floor of its school building, and allowed the lower level Bingo hall to be re-imagined as The Blue Theater.
Since it's founding in October 2002, Quest has created over twenty original productions, featuring spectacular large-scale puppetry and creative visual elements, that have toured to hundreds of schools, retirement communities, churches and social service organizations in the Chicago-land area, totaling over 1,000 performances. Quest's annual season now includes two main stage productions that are staged in residence for six weeks each, attracting over 2,000 audience members to the theater annually.
A proud member of The League of Chicago Theatres, Quest's history has been strewn with accolades and rave reviews from many of Chicago's prestigious news and special interest publications and websites, coverage on major city TV news channels, and a special full-page review of Quest's Blue Nativity tour in the nationally circulated Puppetry Journal International in 2003. Two of Quest's productions, The People's History of the United States (2008) and The People's Evolution/Creation (2010), were Jeff nominated, the latter receiving five nominations and winning the award for Artistic Specialization in Puppet Design.
Throughout it's existence, Quest Theatre Ensemble has been dedicated to being the "People's Theatre of Chicago" by creating productions that inform, delight, inspire and unite.