Pictured above: Actors rehearsing on a stage/Photo: Ruca Souza
A friend of mine came into Chicago from out of town and asked me what plays were running while they were here.
But, honestly, how do you answer that question in a place like Chicago? At the most recent count, the League of Chicago Theatres (LoRT) lists more than 200 companies among its members and affiliates––and that’s only the companies it counts! My friend was too well-practiced in storefront and fringe theatre to send them only recommendations to the larger, LoRT companies. But productions at Trap Door Theatre, Exit 63 Productions, MPAACT, Redtwist Theatre, and so many more––those are the ones that the insiders would be able to recommend, and which my friend would find more appealing to their tastes.
And so, a small request became a project: to track every press release throughout the spring of 2018 and create a master list of all the productions running in Chicago during the season. That list, covering the 2018/2019 season and viewable here, listed 382 productions. It was certainly incomplete, but it was vast. And it allowed me to recommend other productions when my friend came back to town the following year.
I am now building the 2019/2020 master list, which will update as productions go up. The rules (all two of them) for compiling productions are as follows:
1. Any Chicago-based* performance company’s mainstage programming running from June 1, 2019 until August 31, 2020** is eligible for inclusion. Staged readings, concerts, recitals, or similar limited-run events are not included.
2. All productions are listed with equal presence in the master list, eschewing the status that comes from advertising or budget.
That’s it. It’s that simple.
If you have additions to the list, or notice errors/misspellings, you can contact me at email@example.com to let me know. The list will continue to be updated throughout the end of the 19/20 season, if/when productions and teams change.
So, if you have a weekend coming up and want to know what theater will be running in Chicago, here you go!
Zach Barr’s master list of the currently-running 2018/2019 season can be found here, and the still-in-progress list for the 2019/2020 season is here. If you have additions or edits to the list, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org with inquiries.
* You might also notice the tab for productions in Seattle. This is the community I came from before Chicago, and I’m personally invested in their theater scene as well. It will be a smaller list, but I hope to make additional connections there and update it accordingly. If other people want to act as correspondents to add other cities and add to the list, contact me at email@example.com.
**These dates include a buffer of one week, at both the beginning (May 24-June 1, 2019) and end (August 31-September 7, 2020) of seasons. Productions running longer than four weeks that begin in the first buffer or end in the second buffer are still eligible for inclusion.
Zach Barr (he/him/his) is an arts writer and critic, as well as a director, playwright and stage manager. He wears, both figuratively and literally, many hats. He has contributed everything from season previews, to theater criticism, to angry rants, for Newcity Stage Chicago and Scene+Heard Magazine, as well as developing his own narrative-driven critical style via his blog The Hanslick Girls. Zach serves as Literary Associate at Sideshow Theatre Company and consistently advocates for more asexual/aromantic narratives in media. Learn more about him at zach-barr.com.