First Ever Theater in Chicago Symposium to Showcase 'Chicago Theater Capital of America: Past, Present and Future.'


Chicago, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. A first-of-its-kind theatrical event will explore Chicago Theater through the eyes and expertise of the top names in the theater industry. The four-day symposium, hosted by the theater department of Chicago’s Columbia College, will spotlight 135 Industry Professionals, offer over 70 events and present a virtual who’s who of the theater.  The extensive programming will spotlight personal stories and insights into Chicago’s “second to none”  theater scene chronicling its history and charting its future.

theatresymprebecca stairs.jpg

Rebecca Kling, instructor, Piven Theatre Workshop; board member, Pride Films and Plays will appear Friday evening in a free performance, “Song of Myself”.

The event kicks off Wednesday, May 18 at 6p.m. at Harold Washington Library (400 S. State Street) with an opening reception and exhibition followed by “Chicago Theatre: A Conversation” with Richard Christiansen, former chief critic at the Chicago Tribune and author of “A Theater of Our Own: A History and a Memoir of 1,001 Nights in Chicago”, and Martha Lavey, Artistic Director, Steppenwolf Theatre Company. It continues, Thursday morning, with three full days of programming through Saturday, May 20.

Highlights of the Symposium.

The work of Chicago playwrights, including Sarah Ruhl, Regina Taylor, Tanya Saracho, and Pulitzer Prize winners David Mamet and Tracy Letts will be featured.

A special celebration for Chicago’s five winners of the special Tony Award for Regional Theatre: Goodman, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and Lookingglass.

An in-depth look at some of Chicago’s leading alternative and storefront theatres.

An exploration of the rich history of African-American, Latino, Yiddish, Greek-American and Arab-American theater in Chicago.

A look at ancestors and antecedents of contemporary Chicago theatre including the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the 1933 Century of Progress Chicago World’s Fair, the historic Loop theater district, the pioneering improv troupes and comedy artists of the Eisenhower era, and the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s.

Chicago’s rich improv/comedy scene will be explored in back to back programs on Saturday.

Featured Speakers.
Martha Lavey, artistic director of Steppenwolf Theatre Company;
Harvey Young, director of Northwestern University’s interdisciplinary doctoral program in theatre and author.
Chicago arts critic Richard Christiansen.
Jim Jacobs, co-author of Grease.
Bernard Sahlins, co-founder of Second City.
Robert Sickinger, pioneering director of Hull House Theatre in the 1960s.
Tony Award-winning director Anna D. Shapiro.
Actors Andre De Shields and Kate Buddeke. 
…and more.

There are three ways the public can attend the Symposium:
1. Registration for the full four day event is available at the door (Columbia College, 600 S. Michigan Ave.) or online for $95 or $60 students.
2. A per-day rate of $35 is available at the door.
3. Two free performances (listed below) are open to the public.

Free Events.
Thursday, May 19, 7:00p.m.
Writing Music for Chicago Theatre, 1964-2011, Performance and conversation by Alaric Rokko Jans. Guest Artists: Elliott Delman, Dora Washington, Erich Buchholz, Kathryn Kamp
Co-presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater.  Columbia College Chicago Theatre Center, 600 S. Michigan Ave., New Studio, lower level.

Friday, May 20, 7:00p.m.
Song of Myself: An Evening of Solo Performance, Three of Chicago’s leading solo performers share a stage. Columbia College Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash, 1st floor.

Schedule of Events.
A full schedule of the symposium programming and events can be found at

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