Chicago's 12-year-old Lookingglass Theatre -- famous for having fostered the talents of director Mary Zimmerman and actor David Schwimmer -- is building a new, two-theatre home inside the historic Water Tower Pumping Station.
The complex, to be completed by the fall of 2001, is the latest addition to downtown Chicago's theatre boom. In recent year, grand old theatre palaces such as the Chicago Theatre and the Oriental Theatre has been restored and reopened. Meanwhile, the nonprofit theatre world has asserted itself through the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's new home on Navy Pier and The Goodman Theatre's new multi-theatre, Dearborn Street headquarters, which will officially open this November.
The Water Tower Pumping Station is one of the oldest buildings in the city and one of the few structures to survive the great Chicago fire. Previously, it was home to a multi-media tourist attraction called "Here's Chicago."
The new theatre facility will contain a 250-seat, black box mainstage and a 90-seat studio theatre, according to Variety (Sept. 1). The building costs amount to $6 million, of which the Chicago government and the Illinois State government are putting up $1.5 million a piece. Additionally, Schwimmer suggested he would contribute a challenge grant of roughly $250,000, reported AP.
Schwimmer graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, and joined the Lookingglass soon after. He is known around the world as Ross Geller, one of the characters from the hit sitcom "Friends." Though he has appeared in very few Lookingglass productions over the last several years, he has often referred to the troupe as his spiritual home. A more steady presence at the Lookingglass has been director-author Zimmerman, whose specialty is the adaptation of monumental classics such as "The Odyssey" and Proust. However, many of Zimmerman's works now have their premieres at the Goodman Theatre, where she is an artistic associate.
Past Lookingglass productions have included: The Vanishing Twin, by Bruce Norris; Mary Zimmerman's S/M: A Dream Biography, Arabian Nights and Notebooks Of Leonardo Da Vinci; 28: The State of Humanity in a High-Tech World, a multimedia production conceived and directed by Laura Eason; The Idiot, by Fyodor Doestoevsky, adapted by David Catlin; and George, translated and adapted by John McCray. The company has won over two dozen Jeff Citations.
--By Robert Simonson