Chicago Fusion: In the Theater and in the Classroom

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Improv Play.jpg
By: Sydney Paul, Class of 2012

Chicago has one of the largest stage theater scenes in the country. With over 300 theater companies, it's practically THE hot bed for live performance behind New York. Staples like The Goodman Theater and Court Theater host a variety of highly acclaimed plays and quality acting that bring theater buffs clamoring back for more. Companies like Steppenwolf and The Second City, which produced "50 years of funny" and helped launch the careers of greats including Bill Murray and Tina Fey, produce nationally recognized shows year round that have stamped the city as a traditional center for live performance.

Yet there are great theaters throughout the city that are not as well known, beyond the traditional, and which present interesting plays for audiences that are more experimental. The Infusion Theater Company, for example, is known for producing uniquely innovative performances including this season's hybrid play called "The Improv Play", which did not disappoint.

On May 3rd, several UChicago students had the opportunity to attend "The Improv Play" through the University's Discover Chicago series, a student life program organized by the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities. Campus Activities advisor, Kathleen Przybysz, stated that theater outings are one of the most popular events that students attend during the yearlong series. This one-time show is completely different than anything they've offered before with the hope it would continue to keep students engaged and excited about exploring the city.

The play follows a community of improv actors and comedians in the city of Chicago as they are challenged by their unpredictable and usually unprofitable lifestyles. What is particularly interesting about this play is that it merges script theater with improvisation sketches. This was an interesting challenge for many of the actors, who had little-to-no experience with improvisation. The show's playwright, Randall Colburn, explained during a post-show discussion that this made the performance even more exciting and authentic. What audience members gained in the end is that the simple love for theater is the ultimate measure of success for actors in the biz.

Cast member David Goodloe, AB '04, stressed how important the arts and theater are to the city: "Chicago has a very rich history of how cultures evolved and made Chicago what it is today." Goodloe, also a project manager for the Harris School Dean's office added, "Theatre has been, and still is, a very strong initiator in telling Chicago stories of past, present and future."

Goodloe continued on, emphasizing the importance of arts through activities like theater in the life of UChicago students. It helps present what is learned in the classroom in creative and innovative ways. This is just one of the many reasons why arts and scholarship make such a good team. Though we are at the end of the school year, the Discover Chicago series, according to Przybysz, plans to continue promoting this type of environment by expanding their events next year and keeping their theater series running.

Theater is a defining factor of Chicago culture that UChicago students continue to embrace and will hopefully celebrate even more in the future, especially with the recent opening of the David and Reva Logan Arts Center.

"If one wishes to know Chicago lifestyle, going to see theatre is important," said Goodloe.

Find out more:

ORCSA's Discover Chicago Events

The Improv Play @ DCA Theater

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House said:

The theatre there is really gorgeous, one of the best I have seen in the whole world!

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