Thursday, March 29, 2012

If You Missed It...

If you missed World Theatre Day on Tuesday you really missed out. It was a great afternoon filled with inspiration, education and celebration. Our first panel featuring Henry Godinez, Peter Taub and Criss Henderson and moderated by Chris Jones explored what it meant to be a theatre in Chicago bringing artists from all over the world. Criss talked about it being important for Chicago Shakespeare in a number of ways, including bringing artists together and showing off Chicago theatre among other things. Henry talked about the balance between presenting work in English and in other languages and the care that has to be taken in translation and also about the importance of presenting works that are less text based and Peter talked about how important it is for MCA to present work from a wide variety of cultures with roots in different art forms.

Jaroslaw Fret from Teatr ZAR was up next. He talked about the work of Teatr ZAR which has a long development period during which the company does massive amounts of research and exploration. It was fascinating. You can catch the company at the MCA this weekend with a piece that was developed over the last 10 years.

Finally Kwame Kwei-Armah spoke with us about many things. He talked about the unique ecology of Chicago theatre and our incredible reputation as a theatre town. He went into some detail about the larger culture and how experience based we have become and that we have an advantage in that because everything is being sold through stories now and we are in the business of telling stories. He talked about his work as artistic director on the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture and what a profound experience it was working with artists from 50 different countries.

Audio recordings were made and we will have those up soon. I was really inspired and I hope everyone there was as well.


Participate in the NATO Decoration Program

In May 2012, Chicago will serve as the host for the NATO Summit which will be among the most important diplomatic forums of the year. In all, several thousand dignitaries, along with an international press corp of thousands, will gather in Chicago. Attendees will include Heads of State and Government, cabinet ministers, other high-ranking government officials and NATO's Secretary General. The NATO Host Committee is working with various city groups on a variety of programs to inform our community about this historic event and to welcome our international visitors. With Chicago now at the center of the world's stage, the committee is offering you an opportunity to help showcase our beautiful city by participating in the decoration program. Click here to download the order form that presents several different decorating options for your establishment. If you have any questions contact Frances Cedro at

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Industry Ticket Offers

Beyond the Horizon - Eclipse Theatre at The Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago is offering $10 industry tickets every Thursday and Friday at 7:30pm through April 20th. Offer available through proof of industry (headshot, business card, etc.) or mentioning code word "industry" at the box office. For reservations, contact 773-935-6860 or visit

The Gospels of Childhood Triptych - Poland’s Teatr ZAR at the MCA Stage, 220 E. Chicago Ave. is offering a limited number of $18 industry tickets for any show, Thursday, March 29 – Sunday, Apr 1, 7:30 pm. Visit for more information. For tickets call 312.397.4010 and mention this offer.

Re-Spiced: A Silk Road Cabaret - Silk Road Rising at The Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington Ave. is offering $10 industry tickets on April 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. and April 6 and 13 at 8 p.m. Participants must bring headshot and/or resume to get their ticket. For tickets visit the box office or and use the code “industry."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Art is a Lie

Art is a lie that brings us nearer to the truth. Pablo Picasso said that, or something close to it.

Mike Daisey is a brilliant storyteller. Period. He made a mistake. I cannot say that put in his shoes, I wouldn’t have done the exact same thing. Like ALL of us in the theatre, Mike has worked in relative obscurity his whole life trying to bring a little light into the world. While crafting his extraordinary stories that enlightened me and made me think, and yes, made me a little uncomfortable, he watched Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum and all manner of ninnies get the spotlight and spout their half truths and their hateful invective. And then one day that spotlight turned on him and CBS news called and he said yes, shine a light on me and shine a light on my issues, shine a light on social justice. I care about workers in China and I care about where my ipad gets made and you should too. Give me that light. And by the time he realized what was happening and where he was it was too late. He couldn’t turn back and he lied to Ira. And we love Ira, brilliant storyteller in his own right…a journalist…not an artist. And when the news broke, I’m fairly certain a PR person would have told Mike the last thing in the world he wanted to do was go back on Ira’s show, in fact a PR firm would have probably avoided the whole debacle in the first place, but I digress. I can’t be sure but I don’t think Mike hired a PR firm, instead he went back on the show and he looked really bad, but he stood up to it and admitted he lied and he admitted he was wrong. Do his monologues need to be absolute facts? I would say resoundingly no, and I would challenge any piece of theatre to stand up to a test of journalistic integrity, it doesn’t mean they don’t tell the truth.

The undisputed facts are these. Conditions for workers in China are abysmal by American standards. China is the second largest economy in the world and it got that way in part by manufacturing goods for us, the largest consumer society in the world. American workers need jobs, our economy needs help. Apple posted a mind boggling $13.06 billion in net profits for the first quarter of 2012. They are sitting on so much cash they literally don’t know what to do with it. Apple should manufacture their products in the US (my opinion, not a fact). I admit to being somewhat conspiracy oriented, but I have to wonder why “Mike Daisey lied” is such a huge story. Partially, its because we live in Chicago and we love Ira and we are justifiably mad at Mike for lying to Ira. But is it also because the facts make us uncomfortable? Is it because the people who are sitting on all that money make the rules and they want us to be looking the other way. They want us to keep using and buying our Apple products and not worry about how they are made and in fact, that’s what we want too.

I wish Mike had someone standing next to him long before he appeared on TAL saying “think about it Man, think about what you are about to do,” you are moving out of the realm of art and into the realm of personality cult. When you walk off the stage and you speak into a camera or a microphone you are held to a different standard and we will bring you down. The creator of the Kony 2012 campaign went berserk on a San Diego street corner the other day. All the cameras turned in that direction. In fact, the cameras never turned toward Joseph Kony, a Ugandan warlord indicted by the International Criminal Court for Crimes Against Humanity in 2005, a man about whom the undisputed facts are that he kidnapped children and turned them into sex slaves and soldiers and he is still on the loose. The cameras turned toward a film that had more than 80 million views worldwide and toward the man who made that film and then we brought him down and we turned our attention toward his non profit organization and their fiscal practices and I gotta say I might go berserk under those circumstances too.


Chicago Dramatists Spring 2012 Classes

Always Wanted To Write But Didn’t Know Where to Start?
This Spring: Become a Playwright at Chicago Dramatists

A national leader in playwright training, Chicago Dramatists offers a variety of professional playwriting classes designed for both beginning and experienced playwrights. Classes are focused on building practical skills and stage-worthy scripts, and are conducted in a supportive, positive environment. Most classes include a mixture of lecture, discussion, writing assignments (both in and out of class), reading and critiquing participants’ work.

Why not use this spring to finally put that great movie idea down on paper with the help of our Screenwriting Class taught by Resident Playwright Mary Ruth Clarke (author of Meet the Parents), now being offered at 20% off for a limited time! Develop your musical theater abilities with our Song Lyric Lab, lead by Resident Playwright Cheryl Coons (lyricist with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Marriott’s Lincolnshire, Northlight and The Royal George), or take some time to hone your playwriting skills with one of our Playwriting Lab Classes.

A teacher or acting-school student? Receive 15% off and if you’re a theater undergrad or grad student, receive 40% off! Discounts for seniors and first timers are also available along with the full listing of classes at Hurry! Registration is limited!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Industry Ticket Offers

Tom Jones - Polarity Ensemble Theatre at the Josephinum Academy, 1500 N. Bell, is offering industry tickets for all performances (except the Friday 3/23 Gala Premiere Night) for the first two weeks of the run. $5 previews Tuesday, March 20 and Wednesday March 21 and $12 regular run tickets are available with the discount code "Albert Finney" on March 22, 24, 25, 30, 31 and April 1. NO PURCHASE FEE for online advance ticket sales for industry tickets. Get all the details on the show here:

Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika - Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis, is offering a limited number of FREE industry tickets available on Saturday, March 31st at 8:00 p.m. Please note that this will be the ONLY performance in the entire run where we will be offering free tickets. They are not transferrable to another performance, and free tickets will not be offered for Part One on Friday, March 30th. RSVP required, so please call the Court Theatre Box Office at (773) 753-4472 to redeem. Limit of two tickets per person.

Oohrah! - LiveWire Chicago at Steppenwolf Garage Rep 2012, 1624 N. Halsted, is offering industry $5 off regular ticket price with code 'LEAGUE' for all remaining performances through April 8. Tickets can be purchased by phone (312) 335-1650, online at or in person at the box office. More info at

Giselle - American Ballet Theatre at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Pkwy, is offering 50% off tickets* for Thursday, March 22 and Friday, March 23 at 7:30pm. Use code LEAGUE. Tickets available at 800.982.ARTS, or the Auditorium box office. *Available on price levels 2 and 3 for Thursday and price levels 1 and 3 for Friday only. Based on availability.

We Are Proud to Present a Presentation… - Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. is offering $15 industry tickets to preview performances March 29 – April 8. For tickets call 773.634.9874 or buy online and use code INDUSTRY.

Falling: A Wake - Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, 5779 N. Ridge, is offering $15 industry tickets to Thursday night 8 p.m. performances through April 14. See the inaugural production in Rivendell's new theatre. Tickets can be purchased at and use the code INDUSTRY.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

There's Something You Can Do

On Monday night 80 of you came out to talk about what we would like to see as a part of the cultural plan. I was absolutely thrilled to see so many people there. Julie Burros from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events who is coordinating the creation of the plan was invaluable in organizing the event and taking us through the plan so far and shaping the evening. Mike Dorf who was the director of the 1986 plan spoke a little bit about the importance of strength in numbers, reminding us that we need to be “hard to say no to.” And looking around the room estimating that through our networks we all represented thousands of Chicagoans. And, we came up with some pretty good recommendations. You can see them below on this blog.

I know a lot of you wanted to be there but couldn’t, but guess what? That’s right, there’s something you can do. You can sign this petition to support arts and culture in Chicago and the creation of a bold and sustainable cultural plan. You should do that now! You should then share that link with all of your network through your social networks, emails, etc. I think it says we are trying to collect 3,000 signatures, but I think we can get 5,000. So do it now! This is super easy and amazingly impactful.

And…you can look at the recommendations below and share those with your friends. And… you can go to and leave your comments or look for a neighborhood meeting.


Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Artist Residency Program Guidelines Now Available

The guidelines for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Artist Residency Program are now available online in the Arts Program section at Residencies are designed to support artists and organizations with annual income of at least $300,000 to work together to increase demand for jazz, theatre and/or contemporary dance. These residencies are not designed to support creative time or the creation of new work as the primary residency goal. A fuller explanation is provided in the guidelines themselves; an accompanying FAQ is also posted to answer anticipated questions.

This new initiative, part of a larger special $50 million allocation to the arts, will award $1,500,000 in grants in early 2013. Grant awards will be made at the $75,000 and $150,000 levels. Guidelines and the accompanying FAQ include full explanations of the rationale for the program, the process for selection, and review criteria. Interested applicants should note that the first deadline is June 29, 2012, when an intent to apply form must be submitted. Preliminary proposal deadline falls on July 30, 2102, and final proposals (for those invited by a preliminary panel to submit full proposals) will be December 3, 2012.

Organizations and artists must prepare all application materials jointly. Applications are open to organizations that present and/or produce artists in jazz, theatre and/or contemporary dance, and to service organizations with a history of programs, services and activities benefitting individual artists in those same fields. Applicant artists can come from any field, as noted in the guidelines, although applicant artists and organizations must be able to demonstrate a prior history of working together.

Teatr ZAR Workshop: The Flesh of Sound

Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1, 11 am – 2 pm
This exceptional opportunity to train with Teatr ZAR, the resident company of the Grotowski Institute, is a deep investigation of sound and rhythm. The members guide participants through their inimitable Balkan and Caucasus vocal patterns and physical improvisation to explore the connection of physical rhythms to the breath, and physical contact between partners. Participants are encouraged, but not required, to attend both session days. Registration each day is $15, or $10 with Teatr ZAR performance ticket. Reserve online.

The MCA Stage presents Teatr ZAR in The Gospels of Childhood Triptych, March 29-April 1, 2012. More Information.

DirectorsLabChicago 2012 Application Now Available

Now in its eighth year, DirectorsLabChicago offers environments in which emerging and established stage directors from all over the world are able to consider, challenge, and engage in both the traditional and contemporary aspects of their craft. This year's theme is: Left Brain Right Brain. The Lab will take place from August 5th through August 10th, 2012 at the Chicago Cultural Center and several off-site locations.

DirectorsLabChicago is very generously supported by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, in partnership with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in New York, and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Applications must be emailed no later than Sunday, April 22nd, 2012.

To learn more about DirectorsLabChicago, the theme of this year's Lab, or to download an application, please visit

Please note: Applications for our intern program are now available as well. Please visit the website for further details!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chicago Cultural Plan Theatre Recommendations

On March 12, approximately 80 members of the theatre community gathered to discuss our recommendations for the Cultural Plan. Small and large theatres, downtown and neighborhood theatres, comedy theatres, presenting theatres, educational institutions and other members of our community were represented.

Two main themes emerged as to how the City could best support our efforts.

Recognize the value of theatre in Chicago, as contributors to the fabric of what makes Chicago great, as employers, as economic generators, as attractors of tourism and corporations. Recognize the value through real investment in our businesses and in our artists.

Communicate the value of theatre in Chicago by connecting theatres with schools, corporations, citizens and tourists. Include and highlight theatre in tourism and other marketing campaigns.

The following are specific recommendations we would make to the plan:

I. Brand Chicago as a cultural hub and a theatre city. Arts should be valued as highly as sports and restaurants.
II. Increase investment in grant making.
III. There are currently abandoned, empty and under-utilized spaces city-wide. Spaces should be re-purposed for use as performance, rehearsal and office spaces. The City should act as a connector, working with landlords, developers and other city departments to identify spaces and with arts groups to identify needs.
IV. Acknowledge that arts education is vital to the continued community health and vibrancy of Chicago. Connect artists and theatres to schools. Make it easy for theatres to deliver valuable programming to Chicago Public Schools.
V. Modernize City processes and procedures. Provide information to arts groups in a transparent and consistent manner. Streamline processes and make it easy to do business in Chicago. Current city practices (licensing, grant-making, arts partners in the parks, banners, fee waivers, etc.) are byzantine, inconsistent and outdated.
VI. Make connections between arts groups and corporations, citizens and other City departments, particularly for small and mid-sized theatres. Provide access to corporations by introducing them to arts groups and offering incentives for businesses and corporations that work with arts groups. Developing new relationships with corporations, citizens and other City departments provides theatres with important benefits, including new audiences, sponsorships, potential board members, access to information and more.
VII. Introduce citizens and tourists to the arts through the sponsorship of hubs, not necessarily designating hubs but working with existing hubs. Work with CTA to recognize the arts throughout the CTA system. Provide transportation such as trolleys to cultural venues throughout the city and kiosks at stations highlighting arts organizations in the area.
VIII. Replicate the DCA Storefront Theatre model throughout the City and create incubator spaces where companies can grow.
IX. Facilitate sharing and the exchange of information among arts organizations citywide.
X. Provide opportunities for artists including specific grants, teaching opportunities, free education and connect teaching artists to schools.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Industry Ticket Offers

Girl You Know It's True - Pavement Group at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W Division St, is offering $15 industry tickets for Monday, 4/23. Use code "INDUSTRY" while purchasing online at or in person

Friday, March 9, 2012

Space Availability at Profiles Theatre

Profiles Theatre has rental space available late spring and summer for full runs, off/late nights and rehearsals at The Alley Stage, 4147 N. Broadway and The Second Stage, 3408 N. Sheffield. For more information, call 773-549-1815 or email

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Most Opulent in Emotional Expression

We are moving our offices and going through some old papers when we came across a piece of a report that must have been written a long time ago. It’s not even clear who actually wrote it, but it seems like it must have been a consultant of some sort. The report compares the League to some other organizations and says “the League is the largest, most diverse, most rambunctious and lively, most complex in terms of programming and ambition, and most opulent in emotional expression.” It goes on to describe the League as having “a perpetually unruly passenger list composed of numerous strong willed individuals.”

Well…I was just tickled. I love those words: rambunctious, lively, opulent, unruly, strong willed. I wouldn’t mind if they were applied to me personally. I don’t think this person actually meant these words to be complimentary but I think they still very aptly describe the League and probably most of our members, because don’t they just describe what we do – the art – in all its beauty and messiness?

I know you are probably sick of hearing it but please bring your rambunctious and opulent in emotional expression selves to the meeting on Monday evening about the cultural plan. More details are in the broadcast and you can RSVP to


Industry Ticket Offers

Beyond the Horizon - Eclipse Theatre at The Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago is offering $8 industry tickets for all previews on March 15, 16, and 17 at 7:30 p.m. in addition to March 22 at 7:30pm. Offer available through proof of industry (headshot, business card, etc.) or mentioning code word "industry" at the box office. For reservations, contact 773-935-6860 or visit

The Turn of the Screw - First Folio Theatre at Mayslake Hall, Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W 31st St, Oak Brook, is offering $10 tickets for industry professionals on Wednesday evenings at 8 p.m. on March 28, April 4, April 11. Tickets are on an "as available" basis and may be purchased no sooner than 48 hours in advance. Professionals must bring a union card, a headshot/resume, tech resume, or business card indicating employment in the theater business. Performances are Tickets may be purchased by calling 630-986-8067.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Industry Ticket Offers

Ten Chimneys – Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd, is offering $10 tickets for theatre industry professionals to all performances March 9-17. Excludes OPENING NIGHT March 16. Offer available by phone (847-673-6300) or walk-up, must mention the code INDUSTRY to reserve. Proof of industry (headshot, business card, etc.) requested upon ticket pickup.

Las Hermanas Padilla - Chicago Fusion Theatre at DCA Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph in Chicago, is offering $15 industry tickets on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. through March 29th. Email or call 312-742-TIXS (8497). Visit for more information.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

2012 Chicago Cultural Plan Theatre Community Meeting

Monday, March 12, 6:00 PM
Harold Washington Library
400 S State, Multi-Purpose Room B

Please come to a meeting for the theatre community to discuss issues, ideas, policies and other items we would like to see included in the 2012 Cultural Plan for the City of Chicago. This meeting is for us to come together in advance of some of the neighborhood meetings and the discipline specific focus group meetings. Please come prepared to discuss issues that affect you, your segment of the industry and others.
RSVP to to attend.

Are You Busy?

Is everyone as busy in March as we are. It’s taken me a lifetime, but I think I’ve finally figured out that I can expect some months to regularly be busier than others and March is one of them. I can see you all looking at each other and wondering if I’m the right person to lead the League if I’m that dense. I think when I was working in a theatre it was more show dependent, some shows made the whole staff busier than others. Now, there are a lot of outside influences on my busyness level and it seems like everyone comes back after the holiday break, plans a bunch of stuff and it all happens in March. Same thing happens in October and November after all the post summer vacation planning in September.

No different for us here at the League – you can look at your broadcast and see everything we have going on. I distinctly remember saying in the Fall,”let’s not do this again,” but we did. Can’t help ourselves. AND…we’re freaking moving. I think everyone detests moving. But you are going to love our new space, much better. I’ve sent you all an invitation to a theatre meeting regarding the cultural plan so I won’t bore you with that again. But another plea to please come to that meeting on March 12.

Anyway, too much going on to do much more than tell you what we’re up to. Soon it will be summer.