ELMHURST – YesFest event organizers, including co-creators and producers Dan Sonenberg and Clark Pavlik, are introducing several new components to the event this year.
YesFest will take place from July 27 to 29 at three locations in Elmhurst: the Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 S. Cottage Hill Ave.; Elmhurst Public Library, 125 S. Prospect Ave.; and Elmhurst Brewing Co., 171 N. Addison Ave.
More than 85 performances will take place at the sixth annual YesFest, which will feature, for the first time, a series of workshops at the library.
"I think a big part of sort of YesFest in general is building a community of artists and of creators and of people who just appreciate the performing arts, so I think a natural extension of that is in addition to sharing one's work, also sharing one's experience and sort of one's craft and getting other people excited too," Sonenberg said.
Pavlik said the workshops also give performers an opportunity to see other acts around them and learn something new.
Two of the workshops this year are Desi Baker's presentation on battle rap and Out on a Whim's workshop on perfecting genre-based improv comedy.
Battle rap is a form of performance rap in which people have a verbal competition over who is more creative and entertaining and has better presence, Baker said. Usually the competition involves rounds, and the people who listen to the competition can determine the winners, he said.
Baker plans to introduce the concept of battle rap at his workshop, which will take place at 2 p.m. July 27, and then explain the skills and knowledge the competitors use, such as literary devices like onomatopoeia, similes and juxtaposition in order to "bridge the gap" between battle rappers and more traditional writing forms and make people feel more comfortable about seeing battle rap performances.
"I just want to open people's eyes to it and just really try to credit some of these writers for some of their work. You have to write, you have to memorize, you have to perform, and a lot of these guys do this biweekly. .... We're all artists," Baker said.
Out on a Whim, the improv troupe that produces "Improvised Dungeons and Dragons," its signature show, will present a workshop at 4 p.m. July 28 and a show at 7 p.m. July 28, also at the library.
Katie Ruppert, artistic director and executive producer of "Improvised Dungeons and Dragons," said the workshop will discuss adapting genre to improvised comedy using a lot of the ideas, such as allowing the crowds to choose from fleshed-out characters, they use to build their 90-minute show.
"I hope learning about how genre-based comedy works makes them interested in seeing it [the show] because in an hour, we can only show them so much. We can only maybe teach them one or two character games and one or two bits of creation," Ruppert said. "But what we'd like them to do is see what we're talking about, essentially, and see it come to life, so that way when they adapt it for themselves, they kind of see the deeper meaning in it."
Another addition this year is an art meetup, which will take place at 6 p.m. July 29, where people can gather to draw and decompress, Pavlik said.
Sonenberg added the Elmhurst Brewing Co. stage also is new this year, which he said is a family friendly venue suited for comedy. It also extends the hours for the festival into the evening July 27 and 28, whereas in previous years the festival would end when the library and museum closed in the afternoon, Pavlik said.
Pavlik and Sonenberg said even though they have to put a lot of work into the event, it's definitely worthwhile.
Sonenberg compared it to the trope of "getting the band back together," multiplied 80 fold.
"It's like we're getting the 80 bands and comedians and poets back together to all have a dang good time," he said.
If you go
WHAT: YesFest 2018
WHEN: July 27 to 29
WHERE: Five stages at three Elmhurst venues: Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 S. Cottage Hill Ave.; Elmhurst Public Library, 125 S. Prospect Ave.; and Elmhurst Brewing Co., 171 N. Addison Ave.
COST: All stages are free except for the interior Elmhurst Art Museum stage, which is $12 for general admission and free for students