In Hamlet, the title character tells a group of actors: “The purpose of playing … is, to hold as ‘twere the mirror up to nature.” Studio Gang may have taken that notion literally in its recently revealed concept for its new, Chicago-based Writers’ Theatre, which features timber trusses and a catwalk through the trees.
Now approaching its 20th performance season, Writers’ Theatre has become a fixture on the city’s theater scene. Last year, the theater’s directors brought in Studio Gang for an upgrade to their home in north suburban Glencoe. The objective: a redesign to befit their expanding reputation.
“I believe we have the ingredients here for a great project,” Jeanne Gang said in a statement. “We have a unique opportunity to create an important space for dramatic art, energize the community, and expand arts access to the entire Chicagoland area.”
Renderings show a raised approach to the new center, designed with input from the theater’s audience. The theater itself actually contains two performance spaces—one space with 250 seats and one with 99. Timber trusses seem to lift the double-height lobby off the site’s slight hill, framing a space which, according to the press release, is intended “as a lantern that announces the Theatre.” A second-floor gallery wraps around the lobby, reaching out to a skywalk that appears to wend its way through a nearby grove of trees.
The intimate and open theater spaces reflect the immersive nature of performances at Writers’ Theatre. Executive director Kate Lipuma said she is banking on Studio Gang’s design to carry on that tradition for years to come.
“The only way to safeguard Writers’ Theatre for the long term is to establish a permanent, modern performance facility that will support artistic and administrative growth,” Lipuma said in a statement. “It has the potential to add tremendous value to Chicagoland and the North Shore as a premier cultural destination.”