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Best Chicago Theatre For The Thinking Man

Looking for theatre that leaves you scratching your head – in a good way? While all good theatre should (hopefully) make you think, these companies excel at producing uniquely challenging works that keep the conversation going well past the final bows. - Bob Bullen


Next Theatre

927 Noyes Street
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 475-1875

Provocative and intelligent theatre is the name of the game at Next. The group has recently undergone an artistic leadership change, and their upcoming season (the group's 30th season) promises some very intriguing choices.


Redmoon Theatre

1463 West Hubbard Street
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 850-8440

Looking for the unexpected? Redmoon's non-traditional productions, usually in public spaces such as the plaza of the Museum of Contemporary Art or in Belmont Harbor, blends an ancient theatrical approach with contemporary flair.


TimeLine Theatre

615 West Wellington Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 281-8463

Are you a history and/or political buff? TimeLine theatre's mission is to "present stories inspired by history that connect to today's social and political issues." To meeting this ambitious mission, TimeLine presents some of the best and most compelling theatre in the city – including their current production of Frost/Nixon (which closes Oct. 10).


Lifeline Theatre

6912 North Glenwood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60626
(773) 761-4477

Are you a book nerd? Lifeline (not to be confused with TimeLine) is for you. This group specializes in original literary adaptations, which means you can see classics such as H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau or Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray presented in an inventive, and often beautiful, way. Their recent production of Wuthering Heights, for example, is both classy and smart.



1650 North Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 335-1650

Bold acting paired with inspired direction and world-class design elements makes Steppenwolf one of the most consistently satisfying theatrical experiences in the city. If you leave a Steppenwolf production and don't engage in a spirited discussion with your theatre companion, you just weren't paying attention.

Bob Bullen is a writer and long-time fan of Chicago's vibrant theatre scene, which he captures on his blog, Chicago Theatre Addict.

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