The Voltaire Theatre, which was forced to move from its home in the Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood when its landlord sold the building, continues its search for a new space. Producing Director Lisa Dowda said the move will not happen in September, as expected, but was nonetheless sanguine about Voltaire's chances for a second life.
"Things are going well," she said. "It's just a matter of time." A June 15 Second City benefit for the homeless company raised a few thousands dollars, and more fund-raisers are planned for the future. Aside from the money, the Second City event also resulted in other tangible benefits. "We made a lot of connections with people who want to donate their services," said Dowda.
In another example of the widespread support of Voltaire among Chicago's theatrical community, the Strawdog Theatre has graciously agreed to act as the company's fiscal agent for the next six months. That will allow Dowda to apply for grants while Voltaire waits for its tax-exempt status to be approved.
Over the last decade, the underground performance space at Voltaire, a restaurant and coffeehouse, had been one of the Chicago theatre community's most prolific playgrounds. Charging a pittance, Voltaire has allowed countless small theaters to test their wings. Voltaire launched such successes as Lepers, by Neil LaBute (screenwriter of In the Company of Men), the now-national hit Schoolhouse Rock Live! and Barto Productions' legendary 1991 revival of Dylan Thomas' Under Milkwood.
Cabaret Voltaire is named after the infamous club in 1916 Zurich, where the founders of the Dada movement -- Tristan Tzara, Hugo Ball, Jean Arp, Richard Huelsenbeck -- created performances intent on infuriating their audiences to the point of violence. -- By Robert Simonson