Please send additions, corrections, and annotations to


Please use this site as a place to register the locations of archival materials, including, but not limited to, manuscripts,prompt books, notes, drafts, design sketches and plans, props, images, sound recordings, subscriber lists, board minutes and related administrative records and correspondence, however ephemeral and insignificant they may seem now. Any document or object associated with your work, especially if its provenance and context is well documented, potentially lights the paths of historians and teachers.

Theatre companies and professionals should develop plans for the care of and access to their records and artificats. A good first step in developing a plan would be consulting with the professional archivists at the Special Collections and Preservations Division of the Chicago Public Library, Ninth Floor, Harold Washington Library Center, email:, or phone: (312) 747-4875. You can survey the Chicago Theatre Collection at

Another excellent source of help would be the Chicago History Museum. You can view the Museum's donation guidelines at

Another good place to consider would be a college or university in Chicago, especially if it is your alma mater.

For professional and personal reasons, you may be holding materials yourself and intending to do so for the forseeable future. If so, please tell someone you trust what materials you have and where you have stored them. Then tell this site.

The CPL Special Collections and Preservations Division now holds the records of 40 Chicago theatre companies. This site currently lists around 300 theatre companies, almost all of them still producing shows. That means 260 of you have one more item on the agenda of your next meeting - Archives!



Breen, Robert S. Chamber Theater. Evanston, IL: William Caxton, Ltd. 1986. Not a book about Chicago theater but an account of a mode of theatrical presentation that places narrative at the heart of the theatrical experience. Breen's ideas and methods have inspired many Chicago writers, actors and directors, many associated with Northwestern University where Breen taught from1947-1978.

Bottoms, Stephen J. and Goulish, Matthew. Small Acts of Repair: Ecology, Performance, and Goat Island. Routledge. 2007. The book juxtaposes writing by company members, Bottoms, and other critics, in an attempt to create a multivocal text that reflects formally the collage-based structures of the Chicago-based ensemble, Goat Island. 

Christiansen, Richard. A Theater of Our Own: A History and a Memoir of 1,001 Nights in Chicago. Northwestern University. 2004.

Coleman, Janet. The Compass: The Improvisational Theatre That Revolutionized American Comedy. University of Chicago. 1990

Nadel, Ira. David Mamet: A Life in the Theatre. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2008

Patinkin, Sheldon and Klein, Robert. The Second City: backstage at the world's greatest comedy theater. Naperville,IL: Sourcebooks, 2000

Sweet, Jeffrey. Something Wonderful Right Away: An Oral History of The Second City & The Compass Players. New York: Avon Books, 1978; Reprint: Limelight Editions, 1986, 1994.


Appler, Gilbert Keith. “Chicago’s Goodman Theatre: Plays and Cultural Work in an Institutional Theatre.” University of Illinois-Urbana. 1994

Arthur, Thomas Hahn. "A History of the University of Chicago's Court Theatre, 1955 through 1964." Indiana University. 1968

Bosco, Beatrice.”Surviving Collectives: Collective Theatre Practices and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.” U. of Wisconsin, Madison 1997.

Bronner, Gwethalyn J. "The Evolution of African-American Theatre in Chicago." School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 1997

Duffy, Margaret M. “Women at Play: Neva L. Boyd, Viola Spolin, and Josephine Forsberg.” CUNY Graduate Center. 2009

Dukore, Bernard Frank. "Maurice Browne and the Chicago Little Theatre." University of Illinois. 1957

Effinger, Marta Jenell. "Black Women as Laborers and Leaders: Val Gray Ward and Barbara Ann Teer in the Black Theatre Movement." Yale University. 1994.

Fosdick, Scott Beauman. “The Press on Chicago Theatre: Influencing an Emergent Style.” Northwestern U. 1991.

Galati, Frank. “A Study of Mirror Analogues in Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire.” Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. 1971

Gleason, Catherine. “Mapping the Nexus: Chicago Theatre Historiography and the Origins of the Off-Loop Theatre Movements.” University of Wisconsin-Madison. 2007.

Glick, Bobbie R. "Spirited Stages: focus on four off-Loop theatres, 1970-1980." Lake Forest College. 1998. 

Gray, Steven. “A History of the Chicago Off-Loop Theatre Explosion, 1969-1989. Ohio State University, 1997.

Hecht, Stuart Joel. “Hull-House Theatre: An Analytical and Evaluative History.” Northwestern U. 1983.

Jackson, Julie C. “Show Me a Story: the Theatrical Vocation of Director Frank Joseph Galati.” University of Wisconsin-Madison. 2003

Johnson, Jillian L. "Art vs. the Bottom Line: a study of leadership in Chicago theaters." School of the Art Institute. 2002

Lavey, Martha Ann. “Representing the Body: An Archetypal Approach to the Performance Art of Rachel Rosenthal, Laurie Anderson, and Karen Finley.” Northwestern University. 1994

Levitt, Bruce Allen, "The Historical and Practical Evolution of Viola Spolin's Theatre Games," University of Michigan, 1976

Mayer, Jon. “The Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago, 1974-1982.” University of Missouri-Columbia. 1993.

Medgyesy, Laura Louise. "Chicago's Goodman Theatre: the transition from a division of the Art Institute to an independent regional theatre." American University. 1981

Morris, Lori Virginia. "The Casting Process within Chicago's Local Theatre Community." Northwestern University. 1989.

Moser, Daniel. “Victory Gardens, 1974-2000: A Cultural History of Chicago Theatre.” Northwestern University, 2001, 2001.

Murphy, Bren Adair Ortega. “Rhetorical Strategies of Chicago Regional Theaters in the 1970's: A Case Study of Audience Development.” Northwestern U. 1984.

Newell, James Samuel. “A Critical Analysis of the Development and Growth of the Kenneth Sawyer Goodman Memorial Theatre and School of Drama, Chicago, Illinois, 1925-1971.” Wayne State University. 1973

Sills, Kathleen. “The Inside Track to the Future: Chicago Theatre 1950-71.” Tufts U. 2000

Thebus, Jessica Margaret. “Representing Isabell Eberhardt: Exercises in Performed Scholarship.” Northwestern University. 1997

Zacek, Dennis. “The Acting Techniques of Edwin Booth.” Northwestern University. 1970

Zimmerman, Mary Alice. “The Archeology of Performance: A Study of Ensemble Process and Development.” Northwestern University. 1994


Becker, Howard S, Michal M. McCall, Lori V. Morris, Paul Meshejian.Theatres and Communities: Three Scenes.” Social Problems, Vol. 36, No. 2 (Apr., 1989), pp. 93-116


Chicago, San Francisco, and Minneapolis/St. Paul are major regional centers of theatrical activity in the United States. Like other viable theatre communities, they contain the resources theatres need to produce plays, including community traditions and theatrical cultures, work opportunities, and theatre spaces. We have presented our analysis of these communities and their resources in a dramatic format, which solves some problems of scientific communication but makes additional demands on the reader.



Bennett, Larry. “Beyond Urban Renewal: Chicago’s North Loop Redevelopment Project.” Urban Affairs Quarterly 22(2): 1986 242-260.

Blood, Melanie N. “Theatre In Settlement Houses: Hull-House Players, Neighborhood Playhouse, and Karamu Theatre”. Theatre History Studies 1996 16: 45-69.

Brett, Becky. "Theatre Town Chicago (Part One): Why Chicago?" PerformInk On Line: Chicago's Entertainment Trade Paper, May 23, 2008.

_________. "Theatre Town Chicago (Part Two): Why Leave?" PerformInk On Line, June 6, 2008.

_________. "Theatre Town Chicago (Part Three): What Survives,"  PerformInk On Line, June 20, 2008.

Hecht, Stuart J. "Social And Artistic Integration+Chicago Theater and Settlement House--The Emergence of Hull House Theater," Theatre Journal. 34:2.  1982. 172-82.

Houston, Velina Hasu, "Hiking the DNA Trail: 7 Playwrights Reckon with Science's Most Personal Revelations," American Theatre, March 2010, 40-3 [Background on The Silk Road Theatre Project's 2010 production of its commissioned play The DNA Trail: A Genealogy of Short Plays about Ancestry, Identity, and Utter Confusion. Playwrights contributing are Philip Kan Gotanda, Velina Hasou Houston, David Henry Hwang, Jamil Khoury, Shashir Kurup, Lina Patel, and Elizabeth Wong.]

______________“Staging the Avant Garde.” Chicago History. 17:1-2. 1998. 46-61

Nance, Kevin. “Tracy Letts: No Place Like Home,” American Theatre, vol. 24, no. 6 July/August 2007, 42-5.

Pettengill, Richard. “Chicago Theater Voices, 1990.” In Resetting the Stage: Theater Beyond the Loop, 1960–1990 Chicago Public Library. 1990.

Reid, Kerry, "All Night Long: Joyce's Ulysses in Irish Rep's eyes is simpler and funnier than you'd expect," American Theatre, May/June 2004, 46-8, [reports on the process of staging Dermot Bolger's adaptation of Joyce's novel for production in Chicago in June 2004.]

Reid, Kerry. "Russ Tutterow: Fresh Twists," American Theatre, March 2010, 36-8. [analyzes how the  international success of Keith Huff's A Steady Rain is best understood as the result of three decades of work by Chicago Dramatists led by Tutterow.] 

Rodkin, Dennis, "Leap of Fate: Steppenwolf Theatre's Frank Galati," Lake, December 2005/January 2006, 53-5. [Lake is "resort lifestyle" magazine covering the south shore of Lake Michigan. The writer interviews Galati about the sources and significance of his play After the Quake, adapted from stories by Haruki Murakami and produced by Steppenwolf in the Fall of 2005.]

Ryzik, Melena. "Away From the Entourage But Not the Whirl," New York Times. 10/19/2008. [Subject: Jeremy Piven; roots in Chicago Theatre"  

Smith, Chuck, "Afterword," Seven Black Plays: The Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting, Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2004, 471-488. The best single narrative account of the development of African American theater in Chicago between 1950 and the present. 

"Twenty Questions: Studs Terkel," American Theatre May/June 2004, 80. 

Williams, Albert, "Puppy Love: a feisty Chicago company aims to carve a niche in New York," American Theatre,  February 99, 68-9 [How Famous Door Theatre Company transferred its production of Jonathan Harvey's Beautiful Thing to New York's Cherry Lane theatre in February 1999] 


"Interview with Martha Lavey." Interviewer: Chris Jones. DVD 2010. New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Billy Rose Collection. Theatre on Film and Tape Archive. 


Resetting the Stage: Theater Beyond the Loop, 1960–1990 Chicago Public Library. 1990.

Ryan, Sheila. At the Goodman Theatre: An Exhibition in Celebration of the Sixtieth Anniversary of Chicago's Oldest Producing Theatre, October 12, 1985–January 11, 1986. Chicago Public Library. 1985.

Urban Voices: Chicago as a Literary Place. Exhibition checklist and annotations, by Susan Prendergast Schoelwer, Chicago Public Library.1983.


Robert LaLonde, Colm O’Muircheartaigh, Julia Perkins with Diane Grams, Ned English and D. Carroll Joynes. Mapping Cultural Policy in Chicago, The Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago. 2006.


Currid, Elizabeth. The Warhol Economy: How Fashion, Art, and Music Drive New York City. Princeton University Press. 2007




Sherman, Robert L.  Chicago Stage, its records and achievements. [1834-1871] Chicago, IL: Robert L. Sherman, 1947.


Barnette, Jane Stewart. “Locomotive Leisures: The Effects of Railroads on Chicago-Area Theatre, 1870-1920.” University of Texas at Austin. 2003.

Bedard, Roger Lee."The Life and Work of Charlotte B. Chorpenning." U. of Kansas 1979.

Bergstrom, Lois Midred. "History of McVicker's Theatre from 1857." University of Chicago. 1930

Canfield, Amy Taipale, "Discovering Women: women's performances at the World's Columbian Exposition Chicago, 1893" The Ohio State University. 2002

Chopcian, Kendra Alice. “An Analysis of Maurice Browne's Directing Theories and Practices with the Chicago Little Theatre.” U. of Michigan 1989.

Czechowski, Jan Charles. “Art and Commerce: Chicago Theatre 1900-1920.” U. of Michigan 1982.

Dryden, Wilma June. "Chicago Theatre as Reflected in the Newspapers, 1900 through 1904." University of Illinois. 1961.

Greer, Vivian Gist. "A History of the Pekin Theatre, Chicago, Illinois: 1904-1911." University of Illinois Chicago Circle. 1980

Hallstoos, Brian James. "Windy City, Holy Land: Willa Saunders Jones and Black Sacred Music and Drama." University of Iowa. 2009. 

Hayes, Andrew Martin. “The Iroquois Theatre Fire: Chicago's Other Great Fire.” U. of Nebraska, Lincoln 1999.

Henry, Donald Raymond. "The American Theatre as Viewed by 19th Century British Travellers, 1860-1900." University of Wisconsin, 1964. 

Ireland, Patrica L. “Blarney Streets: The Staging of Ireland and Irish-America by the Chicago Manuscript Company.” Southern Illinois U., Carbondale 1998.

Ludwig, Jay Ferris. "McVicker's Theatre, 1857-1896." University of Illinois. 1958.

Popkin, James K. "Taking Chicago by Storm: a one hundred year history of Yiddish theatre in Chicago." Northwestern University. 1983.

Schmitt, Patrick. "The Chicago Federal Theatre Project: 1935-1939." University of Illinois at Chicago Circle. 1978.

Sparacino, Nicole. "Live in Color: visual culture in the negro units of the Federal Theatre Project." State University of New York at Oneonta. 2008.

Teague, Anna Dean. "Thomas Wood Stevens' Contributions to American Art Theatre With Emphasis on the Kenneth Sawyer Goodman Memorial Theatre, 1922-1930," The Louisiana State University, 1973.

Vactor, Vanita Marian. “A History of the Chicago Federal Theatre Project Negro Unit: 1935-1939.” New York U. 1999.

Wilt, James Napier. "The History of the Two Rice Theatres in Chicago from 1847 to 1857." University of Chicago, 1923. 


Fosdick, Scott. “Chicago Newspaper Theater Critics of the Early Twentieth Century.” Journalism History. 27.3 (2001): 122-128

Fraden, Rena. “The Cloudy History of Big White Fog: The Federal Theatre Project, 1938.” American Studies 29.1 (1988): 5-27

Hecht, Stuart J. “Kenneth Sawyer Goodman: Bridging Chicago’s Affluent and Artistic Networks.” Theatre History Studies 3 (1993): 135-147.

Tingley, Donald F. “Ellen Van Volkenburg, Maurice Browne, and the Chicago Little Theatre.” Illinois Historical Journal 80.3 (1987): 130-146.


Michael Merritt's design materials and books are at the University of Chicago, according to his former wife, Hillary Hammond.  (e-mail to editor, May 20, 2010)