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How To Get Involved In Chicago's Theater Community

If you love theater, you can do more than merely attend a show in the Chicago area. There's nothing wrong with going to a theater to enjoy a classic or new play, but if you wish you could do something more active than sit and applaud, you're in luck. With more than 200 theater companies in metropolitan Chicago, most being not-for-profits, becoming involved is as easy as joining a board or calling and emailing a company or organization.
Goodman Theatre
(Photo Credit: Goodman Theatre's Facebook)

Goodman Theatre Scenemakers
170 N. Dearborn St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 443-3811 Ext. 192

Goodman Theatre, a nearly 90-year-old downtown Chicago company known for its classics such as "The Iceman Cometh" with Brian Dennehy and world premieres such as Frank Galati's "The Visit," has a Scenemakers' board for young professionals. Here business and civic-minded theater lovers work on strategic planning, audience development and fundraising for education programs including General Theater Studies. The program brings Chicago youngsters to Goodman to learn all about theater production. But Scenemakers in not just committee work. The board is invited to rehearsals, reading of new plays and hears what's going on at Goodman from a member of the artistic team. The board's events are fundraisers and fun, covering food and drinks at pre-theater parties and at the post-theater receptions where attendees meet Goodman actors.

Steppenwolf Auxiliary Council
1650 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 654-5623

As with Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf in Lincoln Park's Halsted neighborhood has sent winning productions on to Broadway such as "August: Osage County." And as with Goodman, Steppenwolf is a not-for-profit organization that depends on contributions and volunteer boards. Its Auxiliary Council made up of young business leaders is a great way to feel part of Steppenwolf's operations and support its education programs while networking with other professionals. High school students interested in theater should check Steppenworf's Young Adult Council by clicking here.

Stage 773
(Photo Credit: Stage 773's Facebook)

Stage 773
1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 929-7367 Ext. 111

Don't just think big. After all, Steppenwolf started life as a small ensemble group that met in a Highland Park, IL church basement. So consider using your expertise to volunteer at a neighborhood theater company. They can be found by clicking here for a League of Chicago Theaters' list. Among them is Stage 773 which not only produces works but also operates a facility that encompasses four theater venues. Other Chicago stage companies rent space at the facility for their productions. Because the entire operation is not-for-profit (as opposed to commercial theater), Stage 773 productions and its facility welcomes help with front- and back-of-the-house operations from marketing, fundraising and box office to technical and stagecraft support.

Related: Best Chicago Neighborhood Theaters

Citadel Theatre
300 S. Waukegan Road
Lake Forest, IL 60045
(847) 735-8554 Ext. 4

Several of the area's theater companies are in the suburbs and are listed along with the city venues in the League of Chicago Theaters. Click here and then put in your suburb to see what is near you. As an example, in the northern suburbs, the nearly 12-year-old Citadel has its regular season in an intimate setting at a Lake Forest school campus. Citadel also operates a theater academy for grades 1-12. Volunteers with a passion for theater can make a difference here by assisting with administration and development.
The Saints
2936 N. Southport Ave., Suite 224
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 529-5510

If you attend theater in Chicago or the suburbs, you likely were handed a program and gave your ticket to a member of The Saints. An organization of volunteers who enjoy getting together to hear about, discuss and assist with the area's performing arts, The Saints do more than usher. Their members volunteer where needed from the box office to the main office and from driving guest directors to working fundraisers. Volunteer choices are listed in the "Spotlight," a monthly newspaper, and Cyberline, an email update. Members can also attend general meetings to hear speakers from the performing arts.

Related: Best Directors In The Local Theater Scene In Chicago

Jodie Jacobs is a veteran journalist who loves writing about Chicago, art, theater, museums and travel. Her work can be found on

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