TheaterMania U

Chicago Theater Spring Preview

Northwestern student Darcy Rose Coussens takes a look at some of the city’s current and upcoming attractions.

Hey world! How are you guys holding up? I’m pretty cold. Thankfully, here in Evanston the “Frostbite Express” is running on Northwestern’s campus, or else we would probably all freeze in our tracks walking to classes. How to overcome the winter blues? Well, by hopping onto the (heated) L or the Metra and heading to Chicago!

Many theaters are in the midst of their seasons, and I thought I would start out by highlighting some intriguing shows coming up at some of my favorite theaters. If you’re a college student, any member of the 99%, or cheap like me, you’ll be glad to know that these theaters offer some great deals, especially for students!

–The Tony Award-winning Steppenwolf Theatre Company presents Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies, running in Steppenwolf’s Upstairs Theater, January 19-May 13. Perhaps most widely known for August: Osage County, originally produced there, Steppenwolf is easily one of Chicago’s most reputable theaters. Their current season focuses on everyday lives affected by war, and I find Time Stands Still interesting because of its relevant content. The play centers on a photojournalist who barely survives a bomb in Iraq and returns home, where she must reconsider “normal” life.

Students can order tickets for just $15 with the ticket code “TIME15” online in advance of the show. $15 student rush tickets are also available for all Steppenwolf productions. Following this show, Chekhov’s Three Sisters will likely also be a hit this summer, running June 28-August 26.

–The Albany Park Theatre Project (APTP) is not nearly as well known as it should be. This is a very unique company run by professionals who lead local high school students in creating original, devised productions. Albany Park is a very ethnically diverse area, and the students’ own lives inform the creation of their shows.

As their website states, “APTP humanizes issues that impact real people but too often get discussed as abstract concepts.” Their shows are not always super serious; I saw Feast there last year, and it had plenty of humor while respecting the gravity of the issues addressed. These kids are incredibly mature, and I was completely blown away by the professionalism of the theater and production. The other cool thing is that the adults working there give quite a bit of guidance to the students, proving that theater can truly affect the lives of young people.

Their current show, Home/Land looks at immigrant families in different parts of the world who “strive to stay together and make a better life in the land they’ve come to call home,” to quote their website. Their productions are devised, not written, meaning they tell a story through movement, music, and storytelling as an ensemble. Home/Land will run January 20-February 25, and tickets are very affordable, ranging from $6-$22.

–The Neo Futurists’ Too Much Light Makes the Baby go Blind has been a staple of Chicago theater for 23 years. As the longest-running show in Chicago today, it keeps audiences coming back because every performance is different. The ambitious ensemble tells 30 plays in 60 minutes, and the (very brief) plays all focus on honesty. The actors appear, in fact, as themselves on stage, and the plays come from their own experiences. This is a very high-energy, unpredictable experience that I highly recommend! Even the tickets are unpredictable: each ticket is $9 plus the roll of a six-sided die (meaning the total price will range from $10-15, depending on your luck!). They do not take reservations and they only take cash, so get there early and be prepared. You should also dress warmly- you may have to wait in line. All this is completely worth it, I promise!

Tons of other theaters offer student rates or student rush tickets too, sometimes with promo codes from their websites. Stay tuned for more news of some pretty unique theater in Chicago–I’ll be back in a couple weeks, stay warm!!