Chicago-based director Mary Zimmerman has won a fellowship from the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The award, sometimes called the "genius grant," carries a $240,000 prize with no stipulations as to how the recipient is to spend the money.
Zimmerman's most recent project, Eleven Rooms of Proust, was presented Apr. 29-May 10 by Chicago's About Face Theatre. The work was typical of the unusual subject matter the director often seizes upon. The performances of Eleven Rooms took place at the city-owned Berger Park Mansion. Audiences were guided through different rooms, where scenes and images from Proust's monumental, 3,000-page Remembrance of Things Past were communicated through dance, music, performance art, visual art, and architecture. Furthermore, there were, in the manner of a restaurant or amusement park ride, several seatings per evening.
Other Zimmerman works, which the director typically builds from the ground up, are The Notebooks of Leonardo daVinci, S/M, Arabian Nights and Mirrors of the Invisible World. Her work is characterized by stylized movement and athletic choreography. Zimmerman is a member of Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre and teaches at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts at Northwestern University
Previous theatrical winners of the MacArthur "genius" grants include Julie Taymor, Richard Foreman and Bill Irwin.
-- By Robert Simonson