I recently wrote a feature for this month's issue of American Theatre magazine about a theater company marking its tenth season in my Arkansas hometown. One of the things that makes this company notable: It's one of just two year-round professional theater companies in the entire state.
As Chicago Theatre Week kicks off its fourth year tonight, I keep thinking of that stat. There are more than 100 productions offering discounted tickets as part of the Theatre Week promotion over the next 11 days. Got that? More than 100 live performances are playing on Chicago-area stages at the same time, from the League of Chicago Theatres' 223 member organizations.
It might be easy to look at the list of participating shows and feel daunted. As a writer covering theater in Chicago week after week, I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer impossible volume of theatrical output in and around this city. This month alone, Steppenwolf opens the Chicago premiere of Annie Baker's Pulitzer Prize winner The Flick, the Goodman unveils Bob Falls and Seth Bockley's five-hour-long adaptation of Roberto Bolaño's seemingly unadaptable novel 2666, Writers Theatre cuts the ribbon on its 36,000-square-foot new Studio Gang-designed building and the yearlong Shakespeare 400 Chicago celebration goes on at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, the CSO, Lyric Opera and more. And new Chicago-born stories go up at theaters as varied as Jackalope, Lifeline, Rivendell, the Neo-Futurists and Victory Gardens.
It's far more than any individual can take in (and believe me, I've tried). But let's take this opportunity to remind ourselves that this wealth of choices is a blessing unimaginable in the vast majority of the country. There's a show for you this week and every week in Chicago. Take advantage.