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Court Theatre is the Tony Award-winning professional theatre of the University of Chicago, dedicated to innovation, inquiry, and engagement. Functioning as the University’s Center for Classic Theatre, Court and its artists mount theatrical productions and audience enrichment programs in collaboration with faculty. These collaborations enable a re-examination of classic texts that pose the enduring and provocative questions that define the human experience.

Court Theatre endeavors to make a lasting contribution to classic American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. Our theatre revives lost masterpieces; illuminates familiar texts; explores the African American theatrical canon; and discovers fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.

Now in its 69th season, Court Theatre was founded in 1955 as an amateur outdoor summer theatre at the University of Chicago. In 1971, classics professor Nicholas Rudall assumed the role of director and conceived Court’s tradition of translating and adapting classic texts for contemporary audiences; the theatre was then established as a professional company with Actors’ Equity Association in 1975. In 1981, Court built its current home, the intimate, 251-seat Abelson Auditorium, and in 1983 the theatre incorporated as an independent nonprofit organization. Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, (named “one of the city’s most significant artistic assets” by the Chicago Tribune) has led Court since 1994.

In 2013, Court established the Center for Classic Theatre at the University of Chicago to deeply explore what it means for a professional theatre to be in residence at a major university. Court is dedicated to the curation of large-scale, interdisciplinary theatrical experiences that fully access the amazing intellectual resources that surround the theatre at the University of Chicago.

What does the Center for Classic Theatre mean for Court Theatre audiences? Great productions that are informed by the richness of a great university. More world premiere translations and adaptations like Invisible Man, Native Son, and The Good Book. A theatre vigorously embedded in the fabric of the community. And above all, it means ambitious, exciting theatrical events.

Photo of Jacqueline Williams, Kareem Bandealy, Emjoy Gavino, and Erik Hellman by Michael Brosilow.

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