Geographically speaking, Hyde Park is a pretty small neighborhood - only about one square mile. The opportunities within that square mile, however, never cease to amaze me. Take theater, for example. Chicago is a great theater town - we have over 300 theater companies here, ranging from nationally-known ones like the Goodman, Steppenwolf, and Lookingglass to tiny storefronts doing avant garde work. We also get nearly all of the national tours of Broadway productions, and several of them - including Wicked and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee- have set up long-term homes here. Best of all, nearly all of these theaters have inexpensive student tickets.
But one of the great joys of being in a University community is that you don't have to leave our neighborhood to get your live theater fix. Hyde Park is home to several University theater options, and a world-class professional theater as well. The Court Theater, which is affiliated with the University, is a short walk from the Law School. the company formed in 1955 when a group of Hyde Park residents produced three Moliere plays outdoors in Hutchinson Courtyard at the University. In 1975, the Court was formally established as a not-for-profit professional theater company and in 1981 they opened their first 5-play season in their 250 seat auditorium. Since 1955, they've produced more than 200 shows, including 39 of Shakespeare's works. The Court produces both classic and new works - the 2005-06 season, for example, included Man of La Mancha, Fences, and Mabou Mines Dollhouse (a new adaptation of Ibsen's work). This season opened with a critically-acclaimed production of Raisin - the rarely-seen musical version of the famous Lorraine Hansberry play A Raisin in the Sun. Raisin was a particularly meaningful show for the Court, as Hansberry grew up in Hyde Park, and the show strongly evokes her childhood here.
The University itself offers the opportunity for law students to both regularly attend the theater, and also to get involved. University Theater begin in 1898 and puts on approximately five productions per quarter in three theater spaces, ranging from large-scale musicals to small workshop pieces. Law students are welcome to audition. The University also has a very popular improv comedy troupe known as Off-Off Campus. The famed Second City Theater was originally formed as the Compass players at the University in the 1950s, and their founder, Bernie Sahlins, returned to campus in the 1980s to start Off-Off Campus. "Off-Off" alumni (as it is locally known) have done pretty well for themselves - they include Pulitzer Prize winning playwright David Auburn and Urinetown librettist Greg Kotis. They've had more revues than any other comedy group, and put on a new one each quarter. The current show is called In Case of Emergency, Breakdance.
And I know what you're thinking - will I have time to go to any of these shows? Yes. Yes, you will. You can even perform live theater right here at the Law School!