Prop Thtr Launches 40 in 40 Campaign!
Dear Prop Theatre Community,
Forty years ago, Stefan Brün and Scott D. Vehill, homeless (as in no apartment and no theater) moved into the Stripclub Storefront at 3443 No Lincoln Ave. Prop Thtr was born. From that moment PropThtr became a home for emerging talent, an artistic community, and part of the wider grassroots innovation in American theater. Since these beginnings, it has always championed original thinkers and ambitious experiments.
Over the next four decades Prop Thtr remained a consistent incubator of experimental theater in the Midwest. In 1998 Prop Thtr also became a founding member of the National New Play Network. Co-founder David Goldman saw Prop Thtr ‘s production of “Never Come Morning” and asked it to spear head the first meeting of independent new work theaters in Chicago.
Since then Prop Thtr has continued to be committed to breaking open and critically examining who makes work, where they work, how they work, and the ways they devise the stories that they tell. Under the artistic leadership of Olivia Lilley, that devising and experimenting has continued. Prop Thtr's focus has widened, challenging the notion that Theater is a ‘separate’ art form. Prop Thtr is at the forefront of reimagining theater for the American 21st century.
The biggest impediment at this time is the difficulty sustaining our (financial) commitments to our artists and staff. We are one of the only companies that guarantees productions to every project we commission—at least two per season developed over the course of a year. We are on the path of creating a strong infrastructure of paid staff who will continue to build an anti-racist and equitable theater. We are one of the smallest theaters. We respect the time and support it takes to develop and fully produce great work. We like to go deep—not necessarily large. If Prop Thtr knows how to do anything, it is to make something magnificent and meaningful out of very little.
In the past we have relied upon multiple grants, some major gifts from a few individuals and a great deal of volunteerism. Today we hope to set a new standard for working conditions in Chicago Storefront Theater and the American Theatre. Not forgetting our stone-soup roots, today we are looking for ways to add both a Managing Director and Development Director, as well as increase support for our Artistic Director and Executive Director.
Prop Thtr is a tradition that is worth investing in. From Scott and Stefan’s- “Brecht and Beats” to Olivia’s multi-disciplinary live and on the internet devised new plays, it is a theater whose goal is to support the artists that make the work (through collaborative artistic ensembles) as they wrestle with and give meaning to these times for its community.
The artists of Chicago deserve Prop Thtr’s ethos and support. They deserve a place to come home to, exchange ideas and be together—whether it’s in person or across the internet.
If what we’ve done over the past 40 years has been magic on a shoestring budget, imagine what we can do if we have the dollars to further invest in our artists and staff, our processes and projects.
We cannot thank you enough for your support. Donate today.
Olivia Lilley & Stefan Brün
Artistic Director & Executive Director