Griffin Theater Company
After much anticipation, The Griffin Theatre Company will now take possession of the property site of the former Police Station located at 1940 W. Foster. The transfer of ownership, at no cost to the theatre group, should help spark some economic development in the ward. The theatres presence will not only add to the cultural activities within the 40th Ward, but will provide additional business opportunities for local eateries. Updates on the Griffin Theatre are forthcoming but look for a renovated building with one smaller theatre venue followed by a bigger venue with new entrances to come.
History of the Griffin Theatre
Celebrating its twentieth season, the Griffin Theatre Company established in 1988, is a not-for-profit, professional theatre company located in Chicago. Headed by Artistic Directors Richard A. Barletta and William J. Massolia, the mission of the Griffin Theatre Company is to create extraordinary and meaningful theatrical experiences for both children and adults by building bridges of understanding between generations that instill in its audience an appreciation of the performing arts. Through artistic collaboration the Griffin Theatre Company produces literary adaptations, original work and classic plays that challenge and inspire, with wit, style and compassion for the audience. The Griffin is supported by an ensemble of Artist in Residence with a range of disciplines include acting, designing, directing and production.
The Griffin Theatre Company originated in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood in a factory loft the company renovated. In July 1992, the Griffin relocated to Andersonville and renovated the historic Calo Theater. Two years ago the Griffin vacated its space in Andersonville after thirteen years and is in the final negotiations with the city of Chicago to purchase the located at 1940 W. Foster in the Lincoln Square / Bowmanville neighborhood. The Griffin Theatre has been working closely with Alderman Patrick J. O’Connor of the 40th ward and the city of Chicago to finalize the project.
Over the last twenty years the Griffin has provided a wide range of work including world and mid-west premieres of acclaimed scripts, critically lauded productions of Shakespeare and original adaptations of novels. Thirteen of the Griffin’s 70 plus productions have appeared on Chicago area critics “Best of the Year” lists. These productions included, Time and the Conway, Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, Ash Can Alley, Shakespeare’s Dog, Much Ado About Nothing, The Art of Success, Women and Wallace, The Downside, Romeo and Juliet, Loving Little Egypt, and Independence.
The following productions been awarded the theatre communities, mark of excellence, Jeff Citations for Independence, Time and the Conways, The Wild Swans, Riding the Dolphin and Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging. The Griffin also produced the west coast premiere of Riding the Dolphin in Los Angeles in 1996 and its world premiere production of Henry and the Second Gunman was optioned by Miramax Films.
Children’s programming at the Griffin brings young people original productions of award-winning children’s literature. Productions over the last eighteen years have included the world premieres of Sleeping Ugly, Frindle, Catherine Called Birdy, Romeo and Juliet are Alive and Well and Living in Maple Bend, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales and The Flying Trunk. Additionally, the Griffin’s national touring company has brought it’s children’s productions of Catherine Called Birdy, Frindle, and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales to a national audience performing it’s children’s plays to over 40,000 children in the United States each year. Tours have included such prestigious venues as Cleveland Playhouse Square, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota, Florida.
This year the Griffin added it’s hit production of Letters Home to it’s national touring roster bringing that production to both young people and adults.