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Meet Frank Maugeri of Cabinet of Curiosity Events in Oak Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Frank Maugeri.

Frank, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
For 25 years I was a central artistic figure with Redmoon Theater. I made many of its greatly celebrated shows, events, and spectacles. I was commissioned by The White House under President Obama to create a Halloween experience, conceived and directed The Astronauts Birthday- a production that transformed the facade of the MCA, and The Cabinet, Redmoon’s most critically acclaimed and longest-running show. To name only a few.

Additionally, I devised many of the theater’s contraptions, trained hundreds of young designers, guided our community mission, and set in motion its largest grossing events- Boneshaker, Lunatique, and New Years Revolution.

Redmoon closed in January 2016, and I continued to teach at the University of Chicago and took a position March 2016 developing a business plan, and a education and community program for The Chicago Children’s Theatre’s new home, The Station- a former police station now a hub for young peoples identity and empowerment. That project has had an amazing two years- significant audience participation, increased revenue for the company, and the creation of an inspiring mission for young people.

In February of 2017, I longed to return to my personal aesthetic- ceremony, ritual and object experience. I created Cabinet of Curiosity Events and garnered many commissions and event opportunities.

In July of 2017, I was diagnosed with an incurable rare neurological disorder that frightened my family and put me in the hospital for over 20 days. Grand Mal seizures, silent strikes, and worse. My future was unclear and bleak. The doctors encouraged me to do what I love, as my time on earth was questionable.

I returned with three stellar events- Surprise! Death is not the End! a sold-out run of puppet work I created for adults (part birthday party for death, part funeral for old ideas), and then created one of Chicago’s largest Halloween parties and concluded the year with a parade of light along the 606. All events inspired by my core mission- intimate spectacle and acts of hope.

This next year looks even more powerful and promising though my health continues a one day at a time living. Living in the moment, hopefully, and generously.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I think I just answered that.

Redmoon’s closing was tragic. It was my life, identity, home, and child. The grief of its collapse was crushing. It took all of 2017 to begin standing up straight again, and not crying daily.

The brain illness was a shock and has been beyond complicated. It has put in order every choice I make.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Cabinet of Curiosity Events – what should we know?
The Cabinet of Curiosity Events is an experimental events company focused on creating new ceremonies, rituals, sophisticated puppetry and offering in-depth event design consultation. CoCE creates intimate works, transformative encounters, objects, and experiences. We design new kinds of weddings, funerals, and naming ceremonies, helping mark the important moments in life with original ritual, performance, and design.

Building on a legacy of object art, installation and performance in Chicago, Cabinet of Curiosity challenges artists and audiences to see the world around them anew, inspired by the miraculous power of enchanted objects, pseudo-sacred songs, exquisite ritual and immersive design. Under my creative direction, Cabinet of Curiosity is composed of project-by-project collectives who collaborate on celebrations, often inspired by spirituality and faith, community and partnership, using puppetry, objects, and innovative purpose-built apparatuses.

It is committed to using innovative events to generate opportunities that support collaborators and celebrate our city’s communities and the diverse individuals who live in them. For me, the world is a Cabinet of Curiosity.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
So many.

My wife- Sue Haas. She has kept me alive. Taking care of our home and kids, my 11-year-old twins, Frida and Samson, when I was entirely unavailable. They kept me laughing and gave me purpose.

Seth Bockley- he stood by me when it was darkest. He advocated I make art and helped me develop my new mission and strategy.

Nick DeGenova- my best childhood friend, who returned to Chicago almost the moment my illness began. He has driven me to appointments, bought me food, changed my diet, plus so much more.

Heidi Coleman- She has continued to provide me a home at U of C and support my art making.

Shawn Clark- provided me significant artistic opportunity and trust and friendship, and kept faith even in the darkest hours.

Jacqui Russel- Artistic Director of CCT. Endlessly generous and kind and understanding.

And the Chicago artistic and cultural community, plus… everyone who came to shows, and…

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Evan Barr

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Terry Reimer

    February 9, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    Wow Frank Maugeri! Nice interview! I am SO proud of all of your accomplishments! I’ve enjoyed your work since the early 80’s. You’ve brought so much fun, joy and creativity to us all. THANK YOU!!! I pray for your continued health and prosperity. Much respect, Terry Reimer (a Chicago puppeteer and big fan!)

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