Court Theatre honored for legacy of transforming Chicago theater

Jeff Awards recognize UChicago along with Goodman, Drury Lane and Second City

Founded in 1955 as an amateur outdoor summer theater at the University of Chicago, Court Theatre has since become nationally renowned for translating and adapting classic texts for contemporary audiences.

Court Theatre was one of four local institutions—along with the Goodman Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre and The Second City—to recently earn a special honor from the Jeff Awards for their long and lasting contributions to Chicago theater.

“I am thrilled that Court Theatre is one of four Chicago institutions recognized for our decades-long commitment to producing theater for the city and its audiences,” said Angel Ysaguirre, executive director of Court Theatre. “We look forward to continuing that dedication in the coming decades, as we deepen and broaden our relationships on Chicago’s South Side and beyond.”

Established as a professional company in 1975 under the late D. Nicholas Rudall, professor in classics at UChicago, Court now serves 50,000 patrons and 4,000 high school students each season through its main stage productions and its community partner and education initiatives.

Charles Newell, Court Theatre’s Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, credited Rudall in accepting the award on Oct. 22: “Court Theatre is the house that Nick built, the professional theatre at the University of Chicago, an authentic partner in our South Side community and a place where we celebrate the power of classic theatre in ways that continue to push the field further and further.”

In 2013, Court established the Center for Classic Theatre at the University of Chicago, dedicating the theatre to an expanded mission: curating large-scale, interdisciplinary theatrical experiences that fully access and utilize the extraordinary intellectual resources that surround the theatre. Dynamic collaborations with University of Chicago faculty and with community partners on Chicago’s South Side enable Court to re-examine classic texts in ways that pose enduring and provocative questions about the human experience.

The Jeff Awards also honored two individuals for their parts in Court Theatre productions: Lorenzo Rush, Jr. was named the best performer in a revue for his role in Five Guys Named Moe, and Kate Fry won for best solo performance in The Belle of Amherst.

Court’s 2018-19 season opened with August Wilson’s Radio Golf and continues with a new interpretation of the classic tale of Frankenstein, which opened Nov. 1. Upcoming productions include Photograph 51, about chemistr Rosalind Franklin; Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls; and the world premiere of The Adventures of Augie March, Pulitzer Prize winner David Auburn’s adaptation of the Saul Bellow novel.