Lookingglass was founded in 1988 as an ensemble-based theater company. The core values of the company are collaboration, transformation and invention, which are reflected in seasons of shows that tend to be physical and spectacular. They perform in the Water Tower Water Works, and stage three main stage productions per season. Lookingglass is committed to creating new works through “gglassworks” and have an extensive education and community program. In 2011, the company received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.
“Lookingglass formed in 1988 when a group of ambitious college graduates created a process-driven theatre company and unique theatrical experience for the public. In 1992, the Lookingglass ensemble extended its vision to serve traditionally underserved populations by reaching out to Chicagoland’s diverse constituency through the creation of our education and community programs department. To date, we have produced fifty world premieres and have received forty-two Jefferson Awards and citations.”
In 2003, Lookingglass moved to its current home in the Water Tower Water Works. The company received the Tony for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 2011.
Production history available here.
“When Alice walked through the looking glass, she walked into a world beyond imagination. She walked into a world more involving and intoxicating than any movie or circus, more thrilling than a high-speed chase, more frightening than a child’s nightmare and more beautiful than a thunderstorm on a hot summer night. She awoke with a new sense of herself in the world and her own power within it.
“Reflected in Lewis Carroll’s achievement is the mission of the Lookingglass Theatre Company. Through theatre, which invites, even demands, interaction with its audience, our goal is to fire the imagination with love, to celebrate the human capacity to taste and smell, weep and laugh, create and destroy, and wake up where we first fell–changed, charged and empowered.
“The Lookingglass Theatre Company combines a physical and improvisational rehearsal process centered on ensemble with training in theatre, dance, music and the circus arts. We seek to redefine the limits of theatrical experience and to make theatre exhilarating, inspirational and accessible to all.”
Leadership (Past and Present)
Andrew White is a founding member of Lookingglass Theatre Company, where he currently serves as Artistic Director (a position he previously held from 1990-92). As a Lookingglass Ensemble Member and performer, he has participated in the workshop and development of more than thirty Lookingglass original adaptations and world premieres. He wrote and directed the company’s 1989 production of “Of One Blood” about the 1964 murders of Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman in Mississippi. In 2004, he wrote and directed an adaptation of George Orwell’s “1984,” which received a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Adaptation. Andy was in the 1987 production of “Alice,” from which Lookingglass derived its name and mission. He has worked in corporate, nonprofit and classroom environments, structuring and facilitating conversations with participants around organizational and community issues since 1990. He has worked in Lookingglass Outreach and Education programs with students of all ages: Developing and implementing arts-integrated units in elementary and high schools; facilitating faculty workshops in schools across the Chicagoland area; and working with teenagers across the city to use theater as a means of engaging their peers in dialogue about community issues, from HIV to racism. He has taught Acting as an Adjunct Faculty Member at Northwestern University (B.S., 1987) and National-Louis University. He has worked with medical students and patients at the Rehabilitation Institute; and served as an Illinois Artist-in-Residence at schools in Chicago, Evanston and Park Ridge. For the last eight years, Andy has been a facilitator with the Anti-Defamation League, and led Summer Institute sessions with teachers for Facing History and Ourselves, with the goal of using theatre techniques to enhance the toolbox with which faculty bring curriculum to their students. He lives with his wife, Shari, and their two children, Julia and Asher.
Philip R. Smith has served as Producing Artistic Director since 2003. In this position his primary efforts include artistic oversight of marketing, casting, facilities and production. Phil most recently appeared at Lookingglass as Will in Trust and Ivan in “The Brothers Karamazov.” Other credits include Reverend Parris in “The Crucible” at Steppenwolf Theatre and Phileas Fogg in “Around the World in 80 Days” at Balitmore’s Center Stage. Additional recent Lookingglass credits include Phileas Fogg in “80 Days,” Tinker Bosch in “The Wooden Breeks,” and Creon in “Hillbilly Antigone.” Other regional credits include McCarter Theatre (NJ), Seattle Rep (WA), the Arden Theatre (PA), BAM (NY) and The Actors Gang (CA). Further Lookingglass credits include “Metamorphoses,” “The Idiot,” “The Vanishing Twin” and “Up Against It.”
Rachel E. Kraft is in her seventh season as the Executive Director of the Lookingglass Theatre Company. Her 20 plus years of experience in arts management include over a decade as director of development at the Goodman Theatre, in addition to key roles with the Arts and Business Council, Northlight Theatre and the Chicago Dance Coalition. Rachel is a charter board member of the documentary film organization the Kindling Group, a trustee of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Chicago, and serves on the Alumnae Council of the Chicago Foundation for Women. She is an officer of both the League of Chicago Theatres and Theatre Communications Group, the local and national service organizations for theater.
Heidi Stillman is an actress, writer, director, ensemble member and staff member of Lookingglass Theatre Company. She most recently directed Lookingglass’ “The Brothers Karamazov,” “Hephaestus” (co-director) and 2005’s “Hillbilly Antigone.” As an actor, Heidi recently appeared onstage in “Our Town,” co-directed by Anna D. Shapiro and Jessica Thebus. She directed her Jeff-award winning production of “Hard Times” at the Arden Theatre in Philadelphia in the summer of 2004. Additional directing credits with Lookingglass include “Hard Times” (2001 Jeff Award) and “The Master and Margarita,” (co-directed with David Catlin). Adaptation credits include “Hard Times” (2001 Jeff Award), “The Baron in the Trees,” co-adapted with Larry DiStasi (Jeff nominated) and “The Master and Margarita.” Heidi was last seen on stage at Lookingglass in “The Secret in the Wings.” In addition to numerous Lookingglass productions, she has performed at the Goodman, Steppenwolf and Remains Theatre in Chicago, and Second Stage Theatre in New York. Heidi lives in Chicago with her husband, Lookingglass Artistic Associate Rick Sims, and their seven-year-olds Sadie and Jude.
Productions of Note
2011 Regional Theatre Award
Back through the Lookingglass
Something Wilder: Confronting midlife via “Our Town” at Lookingglass
Play “For Keeps”
Romper Room: Back flips, harem girls and the secret of life from the Lookingglass Theatre Company
To see all reviews and other coverage, click here.
Artists of Note
Andrew White: New Adaptation, “1984” (2005)
Mary Zimmerman: New Adaptation, “Argonautika: The Voyage of Jason and the Argonauts” (2007)
Matt Sax: Solo Performance, “Clay” (2007)
Nilaja Sun: Solo Performance, “No Child” (2008)
Raymond Fox, Heidi Stillman & Laura Eason: New Adaptation, “The Old Curiosity Shop” (2006)
Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi: Other (Circus Choreography), “Lookingglass Alice” (2005)
The Tracy and Mary Show
To see all reviews and other coverage, click here.
Where They Perform
Lookingglass opened its current theater space in the Water Tower Water Works in 2003. The space is a black box with a maximum capacity of 270, allowing them to configure the stage and audience to fit the needs of each show.
“The Great Fire,” written and directed by John Musial
“Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting” by Ed Schmidt, directed by J. Nicole Brooks
“Eastland” by Andrew White, directed by Amanda Dehnert
“Metamorphoses” written and directed by Ensemble Member Mary Zimmerman
“Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” by Rajiv Joseph, directed by Heidi Stillman
“Still Alice” adapted and directed by Christine Mary Dunford
“Big Lake Big City” by Keith Huff, directed by David Schwimmer
Full season announcement here.
Box Office: 312.337.0665
Tickets range from $20-62
$20 student rush tickets available the day of a performance
Water Tower Water Works
821 North Michigan Avenue at Pearson Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Unless otherwise noted, all biographies and quotations are from the theater’s website.