Chicago's Theater Wit has announced that The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince has awarded the company a three-year, $60,000 grant for general operating support.
"This is the largest grant Theater Wit has received since the company was founded in 2004," said Artistic Director Jeremy Wechsler. "The even better news is this grant not only supports Theater Wit, but the storefront theater movement in Chicago."
Now in its third season in its new home at 1229 W. Belmont in Chicago's Lakeview community, Theater Wit is a busy three-theater complex fully booked with an eclectic slate of award-winning new plays and musicals presented by Theater Wit, as well as productions by a wide variety of resident and visiting companies and artists.
Well known in Chicago for producing new plays that are both funny and smart, Theater Wit is likewise gaining attention for developing creative audience development strategies that encourage cross-pollination among all of the companies that perform in its new building.
Notably, last year Theater Wit launched Chicago's first live theater, Netflix-like membership program. For one low monthly fee ($36; $22 for students) Theater Wit Members can see as many plays as they want at Theater Wit, as many times as they like, year round. Beyond its own walls but also on the community building front, Theater Wit piloted and continues to host the Chicago Theater (anti-) Conference, a three-day networking and idea exchange event attracting representatives from nearly 50 Chicago-area performing arts organizations each summer.
"By supporting Theater Wit," Wechsler explained, "The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince is certainly supporting our own brand of great theater, but also the creation of our new audience development models. So on behalf of Theater Wit and our resident and visiting companies, including New Millennium Theatre Company, Stage Left Theatre, Griffin Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Shattered Globe and Steep Theatre, we say a collective thank you for this generous show of support."
Also on the funding front, earlier this year the Service Club of Chicago generously funded the purchase of a state-of-the-art new light board for Theater 1, again benefiting Theater Wit and its resident companies.
Theater Wit opened its doors to its own home in 2010 following a $3.1 million top-to-bottom renovation of the former home of the Bailiwick Arts Centre. The only theater in Chicago with three 99-seat theaters, the new Theater Wit also boasts a new box office, administrative offices, a beer, wine, spirits and coffee bar, and a cool, casual lobby. The building was instantly hailed as "a thrilling addition to Chicago's roster of theaters" (Chicago Tribune) and "a terrific place to see a show" (New City).
Theater Wit dedicates itself to producing plays that are both funny and smart. Recent examples include the Chicago premieres of The Four of Us by Itamar Moses, This by Melissa James Gibson, The North Plan by Jason Wells, and Kim Rosenstock's Tigers Be Still.
The company's annual holiday outing The Santaland Diaries, based on David Sedaris' true tale about his misadventures as a Christmas elf gone bad, returns to Theater Wit November 23-December 30, followed by the Midwest premiere of Completeness by Itamar Moses, about brainy grad students toggling in and out of love, February 7-March 30, 2013.
Resident and visiting productions now on stage at Theater Wit include Burn This presented by Shattered Globe Theatre (now through November 18), Trainspotting USA, presented by Book and Lyrics Theatricals (through December 2), and Griffin Theatre's The Burnt Part Boys (through December 22).
For tickets, memberships, flex passes or for more information about Theater Wit, call 773.975.8150 or visit TheaterWit.org.