Chicago’s Theater Wit, the multiplex of intimate stages at 1229 W. Belmont, and The House Theatre of Chicago, which makes its home in the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, have been awarded two of the 2014 National Theatre Company grants bestowed by the American Theatre Wing, the organization best known as the creator of the Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards. Each grant is for $12,000 and is designed to help subsidize general operating expenses.
Created by Theatre Wing to recognize and support the most promising emerging theater companies, the 2014 grants are being presented to twelve companies from around the country. Companies chosen to receive the grants have “articulated a distinctive mission, cultivated an audience, and nurtured a community of artists in ways that strengthen and demonstrate the quality, diversity and dynamism of American theater.”
In a prepared statement, Jeremy Wechsler, artistic director of Theater Wit said: “I am very honored that the American Theatre Wing has recognized Theater Wit for our outstanding productions, our community engagement, our support of contemporary playwrights, and our contributions to the national theater scene. We congratulate our fellow award recipient, The House Theatre of Chicago, and we share a sense of gratitude to the artists and audience members who make Chicago the best theater city in the world.”
As a production company, Theater Wit refers to itself as “the premier smart art theater in Chicago, producing humorous, challenging, and intelligent plays that speak with a vibrant and contemporary theatrical voice.” In addition to housing topnotch productions by itinerant “storefront” companies (currently Shattered Globe’s “The Whaleship Essex” and Stage Left’s “The Coward” are on its stages, with Griffin Theatre an Kokandy Productions, among others, set for future shows), Theater Wit self-produces, with David Sedaris’ “Santaland Diaries” (Nov. 21-Dec. 28), to be followed by the Midwest premiere of “Mr. Burns” (Jan.-Feb. 2015), a “post-electric” play by Anne Washburn, and the Midwest premiere of Joshua Harmon’s comedy, “Bad Jews, arriving in the spring.
Theater Wit originated Chicago’s first monthly fee membership program to encourage cross-pollination among its own theatrical productions and those presented by its resident and visiting companies. Today, more than 100 Chicagoans take advantage of their Theater Wit Membership, which offers the opportunity to see as many plays as they want at Theater Wit, year round, for one low monthly fee of $36 ($22 for students).
Founded in 2004, Theater Wit’s mission is to explore contemporary issues with wit and wisdom through new works and Chicago premieres. For tickets and additional information call (773) 975 – 8150 or visit http://www.TheaterWit.org.
The House Theatre, a tight-knit ensemble founded in 2001, and dedicated to “amazing feats of storytelling,” is set to open its latest world premiere production, “Season on the Line,” this weekend.
Written by Shawn Pfautsch, directed by Jess McLeod and based on Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick,” the show transforms Melville’s Pequod crew into the fictional Bad Settlement Theatre Company — a troupe beleaguered by a dilapidated building, strained finances, and an aging artistic director with a singular focus — the first-ever perfect production of “Moby-Dick.” Still reeling from a scathing review and badly failed production of the story from 20 years earlier, the director is hellbent on mounting the perfect new vision to vindicate himself and save his company from ruin.
A novice assistant stage manager joins the ranks at the top of the company’s make-or-break season, and is thrown quickly into the fray. Mirroring Melville’s unconventional forms, the play swings from soliloquy, to encyclopedic investigation, to action-adventure story. “Season on the Line” becomes the young narrator’s look back at the industry he has grown to love, even as those around him pay the ultimate price in pursuit of their great white whale.
For additional information about The House Theater visit http://www.thehousetheatre.com.
More information about the National Theatre Company grants can be found at http://americantheatrewing.org/program/national-theatre-co-grants/.