Filament Theatre’s hit immersive experience for families is here for the holidays!

FORTS is back! Once again, we’re turning Filament Theatre into a giant living room full of cardboard boxes. Lots and lots of boxes. Enter a world of play and creation as Filament Theatre transforms into a play-space for children and grown-ups to build new worlds. Using cardboard boxes, sheets, clotheslines and more, build your own amazing adventures. With theatrical design elements working together to support creative play, your family is sure to be swept away in the adventure!

Conceived by Filament Theatre’s founding artistic director Julie Ritchey and created in collaboration with Andrew Marikis, Eleanor Kahn, Jeffrey Levin, Carley Walker, and Christian Libonati, FORTS welcomes families to build and imagine together.

Dates: December 2nd-January 4, 2024

Performance Times: Saturdays at 1pm & 3:30pm / Sundays at 10:30am & 1pm / special January weekday performances at 11am & 1:30pm

Run time: 60 minutes

Age Recommendation: Ages 2-102 (all ages always welcome at Filament)

Cost: $12-15 per person


So, wait… Is this a PLAY?

FORTS: Build Your Own Adventure is both a play (the noun) and a play (the verb). Just like a play (noun), there is theatrical lighting, sound design, and music that shapes your imaginative journey. Unlike a play (noun), you won’t sit in a seat and watch, YOU will play (verb). We think of it as more of an experience where everyone can build, dream, and create together.

But what do I do?

Picture Filament Theatre as a giant living room filled with couches, cardboard boxes, sheets, clothesline and more. When you enter, the lights come up on giant towers of boxes. First order of business—build a fort! Maybe it’s the tallest fort ever. Maybe it has lots of rooms. Maybe you team up with other participants and make a giant super fort. Maybe it’s cozy and you curl up and have a chat. Maybe you take a tour of someone else’s fort and make a friend. It’s up to you! With new elements added throughout the experience and lights and sound that take you from day to night and back again, the story is different every time.

For a peek into the adventure check out this clip:

Who is in charge? 

The experience is facilitated by two amazing guides who are there to support your journey and make sure everyone has a great time and stays safe! 

Are food & drink allowed in the space?

While you can’t take food and drink into the adventure, there will be space outside of the adventure zone to fuel up or take a break and concessions will be open.   

How can a 5-year old and a 50-year-old enjoy the same experience?

When we say “people of all ages” – we mean it. When was the last time you had the chance to build, create, and explore? Rediscover your inner child by taking a moment to unplug and play. And of course, young people are experts at playing so FORTS is a great opportunity to let the young ones in your life lead the way. Want to leave the kids at home? Check out our Adult Nights in the ways to play below.

How long is FORTS?

The experience runs for 60 minutes. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to the show to enjoy pre-show activities with your guides.

How many kids may I bring?

There is a limit to 3 kids to each adult. The first ticket you purchase will include one adult admission and one child admission. You may purchase additional adult or child tickets after first purchasing the companion ticket. There may be no more than 3 children for every 1 adult ticket purchased. If you would like to bring a larger group of children, there will be an additional fee for us to provide additional facilitators.

Anything else I should know?

Shoes aren’t allowed in the play-space so choose cute socks the day you visit!

A limited number of walk-up tickets will be available at each performance to accommodate last minute additions to your party. Please check the website for the most up to date availability.


We love celebrating special days with young people! Parties for birthdays or other neighborhood events can be booked online using the link below. For questions, please contact

Save Your Date

Book Your Party Here



For everyone

Book Your Private Party at Forts

FORTS: Adult Night is a version of Filament’s family friendly experience that is specifically for adults to reconnect with the imagination of their youth. FORTS: Adult Night welcomes adults back into the world of childhood!
Enter a world of play and creation as Filament Theatre transforms into a fort building fantasy. With towers of cardboard boxes, baskets of sheets, buckets of clothespins, adults step back into the imagination of their childhood. With theatrical design elements of sound and lights working together to inspire creativity, friends old and new are swept away in the adventure! 
Participants in FORTS: Adult Night must be 21 or older. Performances are BYOB.

Buy Adult Night Tickets Here

Book a Private Party at Forts:Adult Night!

Filament recognizes that every audience is, in fact, a neurodiverse audience.  We welcome those with sensory sensitivities to attend any performance they wish, and we also designate specific performances for those who would like a sensory-friendly show. 

FORTS sensory-friendly performances will be held

    • Saturday, December 9 at 3:30pm 
    • Sunday, December 17 at 10:30am 

Email to reserve tickets. 


To ensure that families seeking a sensory-friendly experience have priority access to these performances, tickets for these performances can only be reserved by emailing


What changes are made during a sensory friendly performance? 

    • The volume of sound effects is lowered. 
    • Box towers are stacked slightly lower to minimize crashes. 
    • Filament guides receive additional information about welcoming families with sensory sensitivities.  


What stays the same during a sensory friendly performance? 

    • The lobby is always available for those who need a quiet break.
    • The guides are always eager to welcome and support families’ unique needs. 
    • A social story is available to families preparing for their visit.  
    • The story, events, and magic are the same!

Field Trip Performances

Recommended for ages 2 and up. 

Enter a world of imagination and creation as Filament Theatre transforms into an interactive play-space full of fun, creativity, and community! Using cardboard boxes, sheets, clothesline and more, build your own adventures.  With theatrical design elements working together to support creative play, all are sure to be swept away in the adventure. 

Field trip performances occur on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 10am and 12pm from December 6 – 20th. Each performance has a capacity of 35 people including adults. There must be 1 adult for every 6 students. A ratio of 1:5 is recommended for younger ages. The performance lasts one hour and a lunch room is available. 

Field Trips are priced at $400-$500 per show depending on the needs of the school. Please fill out the registration form below and we will reach out to finish your field trip booking. For further questions please contact Caroline Watson at

Field Trip Request Form


press & media inquiries please contact

Conceived and Directed by Julie Ritchey.  

Created in collaboration with Andrew Marikis, Eleanor Kahn, Jeffrey Levin, Carley Walker, and Christian Libonati

2023 Creative Team:  Eleanor Kahn (Environment Design), Jeffrey Levin (Sound Design), Andrew Marikis (Facilitation Design), Joel Zishuk (Lighting Designer), and Carley Walker (Creative Consultant, Lighting Design).

Review our SAFETY PLAN before your visit.

Filament’s 15th anniversary year has seen a 200% increase in our educational programs and has brought audiences some of our most ambitious productions to date, including a world premiere choose-your-own-adventure play, Think Fast, Jordan Chase!, our first work for toddler audiences, In the Grove, and the premiere of FORTS! at a major American regional theatre.  

Yet, we’ve all heard that individual donations are down, pandemic relief has ended, and foundations are concerned about the future.  We. Are. Too. 

As our 15th anniversary season comes to a close, Filament is growing and growing – supporting more young people through programming that builds community, resilience, and optimism – BUT we simply cannot keep our lights on, our artists paid and our education programs and productions rolling next year without your gift today.

Filament is facing a significant budget shortfall in 2024 and we need your help.  A recurring gift at any amount will help us to secure our future and avoid programming cuts.  As a small arts non-profit and the only Chicago theater creating theater for young people with young people, we are reaching out for your help.  Every single person matters to our future.  You matter. 

If you can give, please give now.

Thank you to our partners

Thank you to our partners at the Habitat for Humanity Chicago Restore for helping us make the most giantest living room ever by providing the furnishings for FORTS!

Filament Theatre is a Stepping Stone Grant Recipient from The Bayless Family Foundation

Filament Theatre is also supported by The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, The City of Chicago- Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Illinois Arts Council Agency, and by audience members like you!

Filament Business Council

FORTS! is made possible by the generous support of the 2023-2024 Filament Theatre Business Council and by donations from audience members just like you! 

  • LEADING SPONSOR: Dr. Dominick and Mrs. Sylvia Maino and the Six Corners Storytellers
  • LEADING MEMBERS: Culver’s, Stephanie Cutter Realty Group, Habitat for Humanity ReStore
  • MEMBERS: Community Tavern 
  • PATRONS: Chicago Ballet Center, Sir Speedy, Parkway Bank, Women and Children First Bookstore, Wildlight Yoga