Anything can happen when you cross cultural and artistic worlds--even great art. Theatrical innovator Robert Lepage knows this, for on one of his four previous visits to Chicago, he found himself quite taken with the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. From that, Lepage has created Geometry of Miracles, a revisionist chronicle of 30 years of Wright's life which runs at Performing Arts Chicago from April 26 through April 28.
Susan Lipman knows of mixing cultural and artistic worlds as well. In her 19 years as Executive Director of Performing Arts Chicago, she has provided opportunities for countless artists and audiences to bring their work to town and be seen, understood, and appreciated. For example, not only has PAC has produced every one of Lepage's appearances in Chicago, but performances by singer Ute Lemper (who plays one night this April 15), dancer Bill T. Jones, and the great mime Marcel Marceau. PAC's website, located at www.pachicago.org, boasts of a roster of internationally renowned artists with whom PAC has long-standing relationships--from Mummenschanz to Anne Bogart to minimalist composer Steve Reich.
That PAC successfully brings international avant-garde performance to the City of Big Shoulders is remarkable enough. But what's even more remarkable are the many transformations PAC itself has experienced as a presenting organization. "What I love about Performing Arts Chicago is that it has the courage to reinvent itself," says Lipman. "To be one of the strongest chamber music organizations in the country and then to say, 'no, we have to build wider audiences--and to have a board that backs that--is the most daring, creative, challenging thing an arts organization can do."
The reinvention Lipman speaks of took place in 1992, when PAC threw off its chamber music clothes and embraced international performance. Before that, it was known as Chamber Music Chicago, and before that, it was called the Fine Arts Music Foundation, which was founded in 1959. "I really have great respect for an institution that can take those kinds of systemic risks," says Lipman. "You're challenging and questioning the purpose of your mission--that's bold."