The purpose of this paper is to present different approaches to starting a theatre company in Chicago based on the experiences of two young companies, First Folio Shakespeare Festival and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. This will also provide general knowledge for anyone who may consider starting a company and additional resources for that individual to use. Chicago was the optimal choice for this project as it is located near IIlinois Wesleyan University's campus, has an active and varied theatre industry, and is a place where alumni have started theatre companies.

To accomplish this project, the general environment of the Chicago theatre industry was studied through interview with local artists and studies provided by the Illinois Arts Alliance. Two specific theatre companies were studied, First Folio Shakespeare Festival, and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. Both are under ten years old, and the founders agree to lengthy interviews and provided data about the company.

A survey was done of the students within the IWU School of Theatre Arts to determine what other information should be presented. Topics suggested included general basics about starting a theatre, how to find venues and how to obtain copyright permission to perform the production. Other topics included union rules and benefits, payroll, season subscription and grant writing. An additional survey of recent alumni of the IWU School of Theatre Arts provided topics that those individuals would have found useful to know prior to graduation.


Theatre and Performance Studies