Note: This is my one hundredth post. I never expected this to take me as far as it has. I have met so many great people and also got to attend so many events. I didn’t even plan for this post to be something special but here it is, the first of my series of theatre histories, “Theatre in Wonderland” – the history of Lookingglass Theatre
It was a little bit like Alice going through the Lookingglass to a strange and magical place. In this case, it was eight Northwestern students who have been on a magical journey that has led them to Scotland , Hollywood and all over the world. And to think it all started in a building on the campus of Northwestern University . Originally seen as rebelling against the theatre establishment. Lookingglass had it s humble beginnings. The group decided to reinterpret the physical adaptation of the 1970 Andre Gregory and the Manhattan project’s Alice in Wonderland. Legend has it that founding ensemble member and future actor – director , David Schwimmer took his bar mitzvah money to finance the production. The original founding members included Schwimmer, David Catlin, Joy Gregory, LawrenceDiStaci, David Kershner, Eva Barr, Andy White, and Thom Cox.
The following fall , the group gathered the money together and ventured to Scotland and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe . It was in this time period, the group decided to form the Lookingglass Theatre Company. But it has been a long road full of bad rehearsal spaces, odd performances, faulty stage equipment to the home Lookingglass now occupies on Michigan Avenue. Lookingglass has become known for their own type of theatre. It has had no less than fifty world premieres on its stage. It is known for adapting works of literature and original works to the stage through an intensive physical , improvisational, and collaborative rehearsal process. The eight has grown to twenty two , and includes Mary Zimmerman, who specializes in bringing literary masterpieces to the stage, actor Joey Slotnick , best known for a role on “The Single Guy” and portraying Steve Woznick in the tele-film “Pirates of Silicon Valley” , actress, director and writer Heidi Stillman, and finally actor, director, producer, and writer David Schwimmer.
Schwimmer has directed two feature films associated with Lookingglass . The first was called “Since You’ve Been Gone” and included many of the original members of the Lookingglass ensemble. The second was called TRUST and the original movie script was adapted to the stage by Schwimmer. The play had its world premiere in the Spring of 2010 at Lookingglass. The film also premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival in the same year.
Wanting to find a permanent home and tired of moving from stage to stage, the company finally decided on a permanent theatre. In the fall of 2003, the company made one last move to the present location on Michigan Avenue in the Water Works. The innagural production was Studs Terkel’s “Race” , directed by Schwimmer.
The company has garnered a whopping forty two Jeffy’s and with its phenomenal TONY win for Best Regional Theatre in 2011, Lookingglass is far from slowing down.