The Storefront Project: Toward a Revised Category of "Chicago Theatre"
A Note from Ira S. Murfin, MFA, PHD
The identity of Chicago theatrehas long has been entwined with the unexpected spaces in which it has historically occurred, and the social structures within which it has been embedded. At whatever storied point along the Chicago theatre timeline one stops – community-based performances at Hull House in the early 20th century, the birth of modern sketch and improv comedy in a Hyde Park barroom in the late 1950s, an ensemble of young people in the 1970s making bare bones theatre in a church basement who rocketed to national attention and founded a major cultural institution, the flowering of large-scale puppet spectacle in the streets during the 1990s – Chicago theatre is usually making use of spaces not designed as theaters to make work that responds to the limits and possibilities those spaces present, physically, culturally, and aesthetically. - Continue Reading -
Tara Aisha Willis, Associate Curator, Performance & Public Practice
Olivia Lilley, Artistic Director, Prop Thtr
When we first met for coffee, we bonded over our similarities: new leadership roles in longstanding Chicago institutions for experimental performance; mutual passions for working toward racial equity in the performing arts, wearing many hats as programmers and artists, articulating the trends and challenges Chicago artists chip away at to make theater. The differences between MCA Chicago and Prop Thtr led to The Storefront Project: large art museum vs. small industrial storefront, Magnificent Mile vs. residential neighborhood, large touring productions vs. close to home “Do-It-Yourself” theater. - Continue Reading -