Letters to and regarding Chicago Theater – #1

Letters to and regarding Chicago Theater – #1

By Venus Zarris

I went to Oracle Theatre’s Halloween show last night. Disturbed – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

It was also an open house for their re-branding but it wasn’t a corporate re-branding as much as it was this company’s need to share their renewed enthusiasm about (what I like to call) the great commission of theater. You know, reinstalling enchantment in people’s lives, creating things that matter, that provoke thought, reaching out to the community through theater. – Making a difference.

They even talked about doing community outreach by performing old-time radio plays for people in nursing homes and retirement centers, which is really amazing because these aren’t people who will then be able to become subscribers or contributors but rather people who simply can’t get to the theater.

Oracle is very serious and very excited. They are calling themselves ‘re-born’ and they acknowledged that theaters all around this city have similar mission statements, similar passion.

Then this morning I received an e-mail thanking me for a review and my continued support of a theater company.

“The reason we started this company was so that we could make a difference. We felt like we wanted more people to love theatre the way we do and to really get a chance to understand why it’s so wonderful.”

To me, this is why theater is so magical in Chicago.

I look at theater from a very Marxist perspective. It can be the great equalizer. It is best when it is done for its own sake and for the sake of connecting to some aspect of the human condition, be that direct or abstract. In this city we see it created over and over for the sake of its extraordinary intrinsic value and NOT for the sake of creating a commodity.

Ironically, I also view it from an evangelical perspective. These artists are fired up and want to spread the word, preach the gospel. Their endeavors can seem as naive and pointless in today’s society as children thinking a lemonade stand will pay for their college tuition or better yet, that a handmade drawing can make the world a better place. But still many theater companies have that childlike enthusiasm and from that springs forth unencumbered and remarkable creations, creations that entertain, antagonize, charm, challenge, illuminate, provoke and shift the paradigms of those lucky enough to see them.

And by the way, a child’s handmade drawing can make the world a better place. I’ve seen the evidence of it many times, just like Chicago theater makes the world a better place, night after night after night.

Here’s just a few examples:

The Glorious Ones – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

12 Ophelias: A Play With Broken Songs – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

HUNCHBACK – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

Animal Crackers – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

An Apology For the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus on This His Final Evening – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

Studs Terkel’s Not Working – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

2 thoughts on “Letters to and regarding Chicago Theater – #1

  1. WONDERFUL and thought-provoking piece, Venus. My daughter just moved back from six years in NYC and is finding Chicago Theater so much more open. I’m printing this out for all our family members who don’t understand our commitment to theater.
    Judy

  2. Thanks Venus. I can absolutely relate to this article and I feel that it speaks to anyone who has love for the theater as well as myself and UTC. We do what we do because we love what we do, and that’s magic!

    “…Chicago theater makes the world a better place, night after night after night.” I love it!

    -Ivan

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