As their 2013-2014 season approaches, DePaul University’s Theatre School is ready to show off their brand new shiny facilities with a classic old story that integrates current students and famous alumni as well, trying to give a sense of community and their proud past, while moving forward into the future.
“Our Town” will be the first production to be performed in the new theatre school, which is located in the heart of the Lincoln Park neighborhood at 2350 N. Racine, just a few short blocks from DePaul’s main Lincoln Park school campus. The new building contains a 250-seat theatre and a 100-seat flexible theatre. The building also includes costume, makeup, prop and scene shops, rehearsal studios, lighting laboratories, movement studios, as well as classrooms and a conference center on the top floor that offers a breath-taking view of the Chicago skyline.
The season starts on October 5th and kicks off with Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” a 1938 three-act play set at the turn of the 20th century. The show, directed by Damon Kiely, is going to be different from other DePaul productions because is set to feature famous alumni each week in guest roles, including famed Hollywood actors John C. Reilly and Gillian Anderson.
Sitting down in one of the new avant-garde space age-looking spaces that’s designed for public performances, Catherine Miller, the play’s dramaturg said that “A lot of alumni are excited to come back and perform here, they feel like they’re still part of it because it represents their legacy.”
As the school moves into a new era and a brand new building, it is no coincidence that the opening play is historically themed and has themes such as loss, despair, hope, and unity through adversity.
“This is a classic Americana play with a story that deals with the themes of community and our relationships with our fellow human beings,” Miller said. “We want to send the message that this new building is about feeling safe in a community environment, where you can deal with different issues, that might be hard to talk about.”
According to Miller the actors were trained to reflect this by detaching themselves from technology and media for at least three hours a day and were forced to interact with one another and others in close environments.
Besides “Our Town”, the season schedule will include hits such as, “Arabian Nights,” “A Free Man of Color,” and “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.”
Students such as Jill Ibach, 30, a senior DePaul student, have been surprised by the aesthetics and functionality of the new building.
“The new space finally seem to fit the school’s persona,“ Ibach said, “I’m glad to see that the theatre school is finally living up to their reputation with this modern building.”
According to the school’s website, their former theatre school building, the historical Merle Reskin Theatre, will still be open and serve as a space for “Chicago play works for families and young audiences.”
“Our Town” will run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. until October 13 at the Fullerton Stage.