Nearly 25 years after the Wisdom Bridge Theater closed its doors, live theater is returning to Howard Street!
The Factory Theater, a theater company that offers original works written and produced by members of its ensemble, announced plans to move from its current Avondale location to a storefront space at the old Howard Theater Building located at 1621-23 W. Howard, one block east of the Howard Red Line station. The new theater opens this fall when it will present the first show of its 2015-16 season, “Zombie Broads.”
My chief-of-staff, Betsy Vandercook, played a key role in facilitating the Factory Theater’s move to Rogers Park. After learning that Factory was looking for new space, Betsy introduced the theater company to the owner of the Howard Theater Building, Jay Johnson. Betsy previously helped convince the curators of Roman Susan Gallery on Loyola Avenue to open an annex in Jay’s Howard Street building.
Celebrated architect Thomas Hickery, who remodeled the Victory Gardens Theater and the Body Politic Theater, will design the space to accommodate an 80-seat thrust theater. The space promises to be a lively location for theatrical performances throughout the entire year, even when The Factory Theater is in between productions. The company plans to rent the space to other theater companies for rehearsal and performances when they are not using the space.
Factory’s move to Howard Street represents a homecoming for the theater company. The company performed in Rogers Park from 1992 to 1999 in a space on Loyola Avenue.
The theater will be located next door to Sol Café, which opened two years ago and has brought much life and vitality to that section of Howard Street. Sol Cafe’s proclaims that its mission is “to unite the surrounding community and foster creativity and inspiration for all.” It sounds like a perfect marriage to me! The arts are definitely coming alive on Howard Street!
I will let you know when the Factory’s official opening takes place later this year.