Chicago’s powerful, diverse, and ever-expanding theatre scene is justly famous, and an integral part of the city’s cultural life. From Steppenwolf to Lookingglass, from the Goodman to the Den, from Albany Park Theater Project to the Black Ensemble Theater, the Windy City’s close-knit theatrical community is inextricably linked to the city’s arts identity.
More than 200 companies, from the fabled to obscure, are currently presenting plays in our region, and in their orbit are many contributors to the power, engagement, humor, pathos, joy, and fun of Chicago theatre. Whether they are writing a play produced in a storefront house, lighting a play or musical for a Tony Award-winning downtown stage, or seeing hundreds of shows a year, the people involved in these productions bring talents and passions as varied as the shows of which they’re a part. Who are they?
To answer that question, WTTW will introduce some of Chicago theatre’s essential – if sometimes unknown – practitioners with a new series of video featurettes, STAGE PLAYERS. The first six videos are airing throughout the schedule on WTTW11, WTTW Prime, and at wttw.com/stageplayers.
STAGE PLAYERS shines a well-deserved spotlight on some of our town’s actors, architects, playwrights, choreographers, ushers, stage managers, patrons, and others who have various roles to play on, behind, and around our city’s stages – all dedicated to making Chicago’s theatre scene one of the most captivating in the country.
The first six “players” to be spotlighted in STAGE PLAYERS are:
• Michael and Mona Heath are Chicago theater “super-fans” who have a penchant for small storefront theater.
• Stephanie Paul – Stephanie is a choreographer, director, body percussionist and educator who has worked with a variety of Chicago theater companies. She also founded Be the Groove, a rhythmic performance ensemble.
• Sandra Delgado is a writer, director and actress who is a co-founder and ensemble member of Collaboraction Theatre Company. Her plays include Teatro Vista’s La Havana Madrid, developed as part of Goodman’s Playwright Unit.
• Lili-Anne Brown is a director who has worked with companies including Goodman Theatre and Bailiwick Chicago, where she served as Artistic Director, and Victory Gardens Theater, where she is currently a Resident Director. She is currently directing Lottery Day.
• John Morris is an architect and theater designer who has designed performance spaces throughout Chicagoland, including Live Bait Theatre, Steppenwolf Theater, Northlight Theatre, and Lookingglass Theatre.
• Isaac Gomez is a Chicago-based playwright whose works stem from his experience growing up at the U.S.-Mexico border. His plays include La Ruta, The Displaced, The Way She Spoke, and The Alchemist.
The series will be ongoing and some versions of the vignettes (plus other theater-related content) will air on WTTW’s sister station, Classical WFMT, as well.
“I’m hoping the quick one-minute high voltage punch of our pieces inspires our audience to learn more about the contemporary reality of Chicago theater. Our goal is to give our audience a chance to hear directly from the people who make it all work,” said series producer Daniel Andries.
STAGE PLAYERS is produced by Daniel Andries. Associate Producer is Elizabeth Reeves. Camera: Tom Siegel.
Audio: Dave Moyer. Editors: Paul Thornton, Tom Siegel. Music: Nicholas Tremulis.
Major funding for Stage Players is provided by The Grainger Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois.
WTTW is the PBS member station in Chicago, committed to creating and presenting unique media content across distinct television and digital channels – WTTW11, WTTW Prime, WTTW Create/WTTW World, WTTW PBS Kids 24/7, wttw.com and the PBS/WTTW video app. Recognized for award-winning journalism and local productions such as Chicago Tonight, Chicago River Tour, Check, Please!, digital-first series Urban Nature and Foodphiles and national productions 10 That Changed America and Nature Cat, WTTW presents the very best in public affairs, arts and culture, nature and science, history and documentary, and children’s public media content. Connect with WTTW on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.