Lets Pool Our CollectiveKnowledge About Underground Theatre !
July 31, 2006 11:34 PM   Subscribe

Is there a theater underground in Chicago?

Perhaps I should elaborate. The city is full of underground and alternative spaces, but the ones I know about specialize in music, parties and visual art.

Places like Reversible Eye and Enemy have websites, places like the Jerkstore have been able to exist with just a Myspace account, and then there are places like Transamoeba, 6ODUM, and the Albion House use just flyers and word-of-mouth to advertise. All of them are varying degrees of legal and all of them exist almost entirely outside of the realms of The Reader and Centerstage Chicago.

I'm wondering if there's a similar underground for theater, puppetry, comedy, improv, burlesque, drag, dance, acrobatics and circus-type performances.

The closest things I can think of are Redmoon and Collaboraction (which have grants and news coverage out the wazoo), the Mary-Arrchie (which has been around forever) and the long-defunct Charybdis Arts.

Please tell me I'm missing something and that this city is as wonderful and exciting as I think it is.
posted by elr to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
It is as wonderful and exciting as you think it is. Sadly, I can't point you in the right direction as I'm not a theater person in the way you seem to be.

A couple years ago I dated an actress who was involved with a handful of local companies and knew exactly what was going on in the "scene". She once brought me to an underground performance that took place in a little motel room in the middle of the night. It was quite cool.

If you go to some of the more established stuff by Redmoon, House, etc. and ask around you'll undoubtedly meet people who can hook you up.
posted by aladfar at 6:56 AM on August 1, 2006

Hilarious: Let Them Ho's Fight
posted by bradn at 8:36 AM on August 1, 2006

Well, I'm not sure that I'd call it "underground", but the neofuturarium is really cool.
posted by twiggy at 9:40 AM on August 1, 2006

I'd keep your eye on the high school gallery.

When I was visiting from NYC, a friend took me to an Anatomy Collective show at the gallery which had puppets and dance. I think the group might be disbanding, but I'm not sure. Definitely keep looking for their shows.

The Spareroom also hosts some really cool shows that are pretty new, mostly a dance focus, but occasionally you'll see some theater. And if you haven't heard of them already, I'd suggest that you check out local infinities. and finally, you should check out Experimental Theater Chicago.

Don't give up on chicago theater just yet!
posted by geryon at 9:48 AM on August 1, 2006

Response by poster: I also wish I could've seen that motel play. The Neo-Futurists are a good tip. I've always loved TMLMTBGB but it's been around so long that I neglect it.

This morning, I woke up and remembered a lot of stuff that I couldn't yesterday. 500 Clown has done some amazing things. Larry Underwood worked with Walkabout Theatre Company to put on a show at a laundromat last year and worked with Manifest Theatre to do site-specific spectacle in Wicker Park.The Rubber Monkey Puppet Company still rears it's head every now and then for 3-d shadow puppetry, but it doesn't collaborate with the Mammals Theatre anymore. I've worked with some amazing people from Kapoot and Chicago Dance Crash, but I've never made it to their shows. I guess that part's my fault.

Unfortunately, no one has come to take the place of the Cucaracha Cabaret or the People's Republic of Delicious Food. I'm not giving up yet, I just wish that there were more independent venues devoted entirely to Theater and the like. And a way for me to find out about them.
posted by elr at 12:48 AM on August 2, 2006

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