Monday, February 14, 2011

Registration Opens for International Symposium on Chicago Theatre May 18-22

How has Chicago theatre developed from a grassroots movement to a global phenomenon over the past 50 years? What is the current state of "the beating heart of American theatre," as British critic Michael Billington recently described Chicago? And what is the future of theatre in Chicago – in America and around the world – in a time of rapidly escalating technological innovation and globalization?

These are the questions that will be addressed during Chicago – Theatre Capital of America: Past. Present. Future, an international symposium presented by the Theatre Department of Columbia College Chicago on May 18-22. A principal focus of the symposium will be Chicago theatre since 1959, the year that director Paul Sills and others founded The Second City, Chicago's internationally acclaimed improvisational theatre which trained a legion of entertainment legends.

Online registration for the symposium is live at Cost is $95 for the four-day event, with a discounted price of $60 for students. Registration and events are open to the public.

Featured speakers include Martha Lavey, artistic director of Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Harvey Young, director of Northwestern University's interdisciplinary doctoral program in theatre and author of Embodying Black Experience: Stillness, Critical Memory, and the Black Body; Todd London, coauthor of Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play; and veteran Chicago arts critic Richard Christiansen, author of A Theater of Our Own: A History and Memoir of 1,001 Nights in Chicago.

International perspectives on Chicago theatre will be provided by scholars and guest artists from overseas including Phillip Zarrilli, actor, director and prize-winning author of Psychophysical Acting: An Intercultural Approach After Stanislavski. Zarrilli, with his company The Llanarth Group from Wales, will stage the American premiere of his latest work, Told By The Wind, at the Dance Center of Columbia College during the symposium.

More than 70 presentations by theatre scholars and practitioners from the United States and Europe will highlight the event. These presentations will be complemented by a variety of performances, workshops, and social events that will offer a unique opportunity for theatre academics, professionals and enthusiasts to meet and share ideas.

Specific themes to be addressed during sessions include:

· The influence of Chicago theatre artists and teachers on theatre, film, and TV in America and around the world -- from Broadway and Hollywood to regional theatre to universities here and abroad
· The work of Chicago playwrights (including Pulitzer Prize winners David Mamet and Tracy Letts) and directors (including Tony Award winners Robert Falls, Mary Zimmerman, and Frank Galati and Obie Award winner David Cromer)
· The rich history of African-American, Latino, Asian-American, and Arab-American theatre in Chicago
· The social, cultural, and political factors that have given Chicago theatre its distinctive qualities
· 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 theatre district, the pioneering improv troupes and comedy artists of the Eisenhower era, and the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s
· The influence of theatre criticism, dramaturgy, and even clergy in the evolution of Chicago theatre
· Arts leadership training, audience development, and funding strategies for the coming century.

The scholars selected to deliver papers and sit on panels at the event reflect an array of institutions from the United States and around the world. Among them, in addition to Columbia College Chicago, are Harvard University, Boston College, Emerson College, Northwestern University, DePaul University, Loyola University, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in London, and the University of Macedonia for Economic and Social Sciences. Also participating are theatre professionals from Chicago companies such as Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Chicago Dramatists, Writers' Theatre and The Second City, as well as noted alumni of the Chicago theater explosion of the past four decades who have gone on to careers on stage and screen.

Joining Columbia College Chicago in this endeavor are a number of institutional partners including the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Chicago Public Library, the League of Chicago Theatres, the Dramatists Guild of America, Actors' Equity Association (Central Region) and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

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