Since Chicago's founding, theater has blossomed in the city's makeshift spaces, from taverns to parks, living rooms to storefronts. Makeshift Chicago Stages brings together leading historians to share the history of theater and performance in the Second City. The essays collected here theorize a regional theater history and aesthetic that are inherently improvisational, rough-and-tumble, and marginal, reflecting the realities of a hypersegregated city and its neighborhoods. Space and place have contributed to Chicago's reputation for gritty, ensemble-led work, part of a makeshift ethos that exposes the policies of the city and the transgressive possibilities of performance. This book examines the rise and proliferation of Chicago's performance spaces, which have rooted the city's dynamic, thriving theater community. Chapters cover well-known, groundbreaking, and understudied theatrical sites, ensembles, and artists, including the 1893 Columbian Exposition Midway Plaisance, the 57th Street Artist Colony, the Fine Arts Building, the Goodman Theatre, the Federal Theatre Project, the Kingston Mines and Body Politic Theaters, ImprovOlympics (later iO), Teatro Vista, Theaster Gates, and the Chicago Home Theater Festival. By putting space at the center of the city's theater history, the authors in Makeshift Chicago Stages spotlight the roles of neighborhoods, racial dynamics, atypical venues, and borders as integral to understanding the work and aesthetics of Chicago's artists, ensembles, and repertoires, which have influenced theater practices worldwide. Featuring rich archival work and oral histories, this anthology will prove a valuable resource for theater historians, as well as anyone interested in Chicago's cultural heritage.
Since Chicago's founding, theatre has blossomed in the city's makeshift spaces, from taverns to parks, living rooms to storefronts. Makeshift Chicago Stages brings together leading historians to share the history of theatre and performance in the Second City.
Introduction: Chicago Theater as Makeshift Performance, Megan E. Geigner, Stuart J. Hecht, and Jasmine Jamillah MahmoudSection I: Theater: Artistry Born of Ashes, Stuart J. Hecht1. Entertaining People: The 1893 Columbian Exposition Midway Plaisance, Rosemarie K. Bank2. From Marmalade to Gingerbread: The Columbian Exposition, Chicago's 57th Street Artist Colony, and the Theaters it Spawned, Stuart J. Hecht3. All Passes - Art Alone Endures: Staging the New Drama at the Fine Arts Building, Shannon EpplettSection II: From Mainstream to Institutionalized, Megan E. Geigner4. Pillars of the Community: Reversing the Flow between the Goodman and Immigrant Theater, Megan E. Geigner5. Theatrical Geographies of Segregation: Spatial Displacement in Theodore Ward's Big White Fog, Aaron Krall6. Lincoln Avenue and the Off-Loop Scene: Urban Renewal, and the Early Years of the Chicago Storefront Movement, Cat Gleason7. Object Permanence: ImprovOlympic and the Legitimacy of Improv in Chicago, Travis SternSection III: Centering the Decentered, Itinerant, Civic, and Home, Jasmine Jamillah Mahmoud8. Reclaiming Space: An Oral History of Teatro Vista, Laura Lodewyck9. Temple-Swapping in the City: The Spatial Imaginary and Performances of Place-Making in the Work of Theaster Gates, LaRonika Thomas10. Staging Private Homes and the Transformations of Public Lives: A conversation with Irina Zadov, Laley Lippard, Aymar Jean Christian, and Meida McNeal of the Chicago Home Theater Festival, Jasmine Jamillah MahmoudEpilogue: Chicago Theater amidst Pandemics, Megan E. Geigner and Jasmine Jamillah Mahmoud
Northwestern University Press