Winner of the Illinois State Historical Society Book Award for Superior Achievement
A Theater of Our Own is a fascinating, fast-paced, and fact-filled chronicle of Chicago's legendary theater scene by the long-time chief critic for the Chicago Tribune. Who produced the first stage adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz" in 1902-nearly forty years before the movie classic? What entertainment juggernaut began in a converted Chinese laundry on Wells Street in 1959? Where did Louis (Studs) Terkel make his stage debut? When did the original production of "Grease" open at Kingston Mines Theater? Richard Christiansen, former chief critic for the Chicago Tribune, answers these and many more questions about the rich role of the theater in Chicago, from its earliest days in 1837 to its present state as a diverse community of artists with international stature.
In A Theater of Our Own, he draws upon his exclusive interviews, insights, and memories gathered over a period of more than forty years of reviewing the arts. This history and memoir traces the evolution of the Chicago theater scene from small theaters to major institutions such as the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the Goodman Theater, and The Second City. Along the way, Richard Christiansen relates his behind-the-scenes conversations with some of Chicago's most acclaimed writers, directors, and actors--David Mamet, Frank Galati, Mary Zimmerman, John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf, Harold Ramis, Gary Sinise, and Joe Mantegna--all a part of Chicago's theater renaissance from the 1970s onward. To this day, Chicago remains a city known for its imaginative, innovative, and influential theaters and artists. A Theater of Our Own, a valuable contribution to the history of theater, is a book written for anyone who enjoys the theater and its people as well as the story of Chicago.
Spanning a quarter of a century, this collection of plays demonstrates author Jeffrey Sweet’s eye for the drama of human relationships. Sweet works with sensitivity and irony to confront both personal politics and the impact of historical change. These nine works, taken together, present a playwright who extends the struggles of his small circles of characters to his audience and humanity in general.
The title work, first mounted in 1982, is a comedy-drama about the aftermath of the blacklist whose continued relevance makes it a frequently produced play today. The family drama Porch suggests larger social changes through the interaction of a small-town shopkeeper and his defiant daughter. The lauded American Enterprise, set in the Chicago of the robber barons, is a song-filled true story about a millionaire whose stubborn idealism leads to disaster. Stay Till Morning is a rueful comedy about sex and accommodation in the Florida Keys. The three plays that grew out of his fascination with the effects of World War II—Berlin ’45, Court-Martial at Fort Devens, and The Action Against Sol Schumann—dramatize the ways in which that conflict transformed private fates. Each script is accompanied by an extended introduction from the playwright as well as complete performance notes.
In 2001, Victory Gardens Theater received the Tony Award for Regional Theatre and was hailed by the Wall Street Journal as "one of the country's most important playwrights' theaters." This recognition helped the theater take its rightful place alongside Chicago's world-class local theaters. Nearly 250 plays have been produced at Victory Gardens since it was founded in 1974. More than half of these plays have been world premieres, many of which have gone on to national success. This theater's commitment to producing primarily new plays, most by Chicago authors, makes it a unique and exciting institution.
This collection features seven plays by talented authors from the twelve-member Playwrights Ensemble at Victory Gardens. Their works tackle a wide range of topics from a colorful and imaginative retelling of the Medea legend set in the Carribbean to the desperation and regret that can fill a high-school reunion, from a feisty stroke-survivor claiming her independence to a historical drama about the first free man of color to attend Ohio University. Whether focusing on the drama between the four walls of a home or testing the broader realms of culture, history, and politics, the Victory Gardens Theater has always encouraged diverse perspectives and supported original work. Victory Gardens Theater Presents showcases some of the best examples of the distinctive talent that continues to find a home there.