Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bailiwick to Leave the Bailiwick Arts Center

Bailiwick Repertory Company will be leaving their home at the Bailiwick Arts Center on Belmont Avenue. After residing there for fifteen years, Bailiwick will be replaced by Theatre Wit.

Once a dominant force in Chicago's Off-Loop Theatre, financial problems has made the last few seasons at Bailiwick somewhat shaky. Despite getting the American premier of Jerry Springer the Musical and a new musical version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame with music by Dennis DeYoung. The company continued to remain a huge perennial presence at the Jeff Awards.

Sadly, Bailiwick has suffered from a poor public relations within the theatre community. Gratuitous nudity characterized the image of a Bailiwick performance and any actor auditioning for a show knows the caution that, if cast, when you receive your paycheck you had better run to the bank as fast as you can; the check just might bounce.

Bailiwick's tarnished image may overshadow the good that they have done over the years. They have been a large force on the Off-Loop theatre scene linking the storefronts to the commercial theaters in the Loop and in the suburbs. Not to mention the number of artists that it has employed and given a start to. Bailiwick has been a key stone in the foundation of the Chicago theater scene for the past twenty-six years.

What happens next.

Well, Bailiwick will remain. David Zak, the artistic director, is weighing finding a new home or remaining itinerant for a time. Theatre Wit will move into what is now the Bailiwick Arts Center and completely over haul the interior. The plan is to rip out the studio and mainstage spaces and build three 100 seat venues. This will allow Theatre Wit their own resident space while creating two performance spaces that can be rented out to other companies.

Read more about this change:
Chris Jones

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