Rivendell Puts Down Roots, Zarko Raises Up Bucks

January 13, 2012

The excellent Rivendell Theatre Ensemble will finally have its own home when it opens its 16th Season next month. After six years of planning, the city’s only “producing organization dedicated to women’s voices” will take up permanent residence at 5779 North Ridge Avenue in Edgewater when its season begins in February.

A “grand tour” of the new theater takes about 3 minutes. The lobby has huge windows onto the street and–of critical importance to the audience–two newly-built accessible bathrooms. Directly behind the lobby are the dressing rooms, while to its left is the 50-seat black-box performance space. Though Ridge Avenue is notoriously loud and traffic-heavy, nothing from the street is audible in the theater, which has soundproofing on its streetside wall and door. The space is also completely wired for sound, an unusual feature in an off-Loop space.

The troupe will inaugurate the space on February 8 with a one-night-only event, Women at War: Where Motivation Lies, and then begin the season proper in March with the Midwest premiere of Falling: A Wake, a play “inspired by” the bombing over Lockerbie. Congratulations to Tara Mallen and her crew on achieving their long-sought goal. As usual, one wonders how the hell a company will survive by selling 50 seats, but so many have done so (Gift, Steep, Profiles) that it must be that the laws of economics are suspended inside those black boxes.  

Meanwhile, Theatre Zarko, the company recently formed by Michael Montenegro (The Puppetmaster of Lodz, Argonautica) will open He Who on the Steppenwolf Garage Rep stage on February 2.  The company succeeded in raising the money to create the puppet through Kickstarter, occasionally dubbed “the crowd-source NEA.” Not clear what would have happened if the effort had failed–would Steppenwolf have subsidized Zarko, or kicked it out?–but as it turns out, by last Thursday’s deadline the company had raised $1000-plus more than it needed. Another white-knuckle victory for the Chicago theater community.