The Playgoer: Chicago Storefronts: Successful Theatre at Half the Price!

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Monday, June 07, 2010

Chicago Storefronts: Successful Theatre at Half the Price!

"...rock-solid leadership, a core group of actors and directors, reasonable ticket prices, and stages so intimate that the distance between actors and audience can be measured in inches."

That's how the Sun-Times' Hedy Weiss sums up the (not so secret) secrets of the success of "Storefront" theatre in Chicago.  And she profiles four very exciting sounding companies--all with annual budgets between just $80K and $250K!

Remind me why this is so much harder in NYC?  Is it just the real estate expenses?  Or are actors not able to make the sacrifices?  Or is too much oxygen and media attention taken up by Broadway and the more elite nonprofits?  Or is it even the Showcase Code?  (Chicago has its own AEA contract for such venues.)


99 said...

I'm gonna go with D) All of the above.

isaac butler said...

i actually think the problems of the showcase code are way overblown and that it's mainly real estate prices. it would be nice if extending or reviving a show were easier, but those things are already next to impossible because of how scarce and expensive theatre spaces are.

Anonymous said...

Not just real estate prices for theaters -- but also apartment prices where actors live. Residential rents in Chicago are much more do-able on an artist's wages.

Zev Valancy said...

I'm genuinely unaware of the facts of this, but what is the non-equity scene like in New York? In Chicago non-equity shows can get significant audiences and press coverage, and many performers choose to stay non-equity because there are more opportunities. Even in the storefronts that have equity contracts, the entire show is rarely equity. Is there an equivalent scene in New York, artistically satisfying and capable of sustaining a career?

Anonymous said...

No one's making a living off of those companies, though are they?

In Austin we have a lot of companies doing quality work with sub-10k yearly budgets, but there's little pay, and definitely almost none that you could live off of.