Oracle Productions has announced it will close its doors this month, following the final performance this Saturday of Queer, Ill + Okay, produced in association with Joseph Varisco and the Art AIDS America exhibit.
The move to dissolve comes as somewhat of a surprise, given that it comes just five months after Oracle named Vanessa Stalling its new artistic director and took over the former Signal Ensemble venue in North Center. Oracle lost its longtime home in Lakeview earlier this year as part of the condo development that also displaced Strawdog Theatre Company and Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.
Oracle, which for the last six of its 11 years in operation embraced a free-admission model it called Public Access Theatre, also had one of its most critically successful productions in 2016 in director Monty Cole’s reimagining of Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape, which won three Jeff Awards and went on to a sold-out Theater on the Lake run over the summer. The Jeff Awards had recognized several other Oracle shows in recent years, including its striking adaptations of Bertolt Brecht’s The Mother and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. In 2014, Oracle was the recipient of the League of Chicago Theatres’ Broadway in Chicago Emerging Theater Award.
In a statement, Oracle’s board of directors cites “large personal life changes” this year for longtime executive director Brad Jayhan-Little and executive producer Ben Fuchsen leading to their departures from the company. With their departures, “the Board of Directors decided to dissolve Oracle and grant its assets to other important nonprofit institutions dedicated to making art accessible to all.” The complete statement is posted at Oracle's website.
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