Goodman Theatre is a professional theater company located in Chicago's Loop. A major part of the Chicago theatre scene, it is the city's oldest currently active nonprofit theater organization. Part of its present theater complex occupies the landmark Harris and Selwyn Theaters property.
The Goodman was founded in 1925 as a tribute to the Chicago playwright Kenneth Sawyer Goodman, who died in the Great Influenza Pandemic in 1918. The theater was funded by Goodman's parents, Mr. and Mrs. William O. Goodman, who donated $250,000 to the Art Institute of Chicago to establish a professional repertory company and a school of drama at the Institute. The first theater was designed by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw (in the location now occupied by the museum's Modern Wing), although its design was severely hampered by location restrictions resulting in poor acoustics and lack of space for scenery and effects.
The opening ceremony on October 20, 1925 featured three of Kenneth Sawyer Goodman's plays: Back of the Yards, The Green Scarf, and The Game of Chess. Two nights later the theater presented its first public performance, John Galsworthy's The Forest.
In 2000, the company moved into its new building at 170 N. Dearborn in Chicago's theater district. The 171,000 s.f. project was designed by KPMB Architects, DLK Architecture Inc., McClier Corporation, associated architects. It has two fully modern auditoriums, named the Albert and the Owen, after two members of the Goodman family who continue to be major donors. In August, Associate Artistic Director Michael Maggio died and they renamed the Michael Merritt Award for young designers the Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award in his honor.
In 1992, the theatre company received the Regional Theatre Tony Award, joining Steppenwolf Theatre as Chicago-based recipients of the award. Since then, three other Chicago-based companies, Victory Gardens Theater (in 2001), Chicago Shakespeare Theater (in 2008), and Lookingglass Theatre Company (in 2011) have also received the award, making Chicago the most recognized city in the country by this prestigious live theater award. The Goodman has also won many Joseph Jefferson awards.
The theater has presented A Christmas Carol annually in December since the 1970s.
Other productions the Goodman has staged over the years include Hay Fever, Lady Windermere's Fan, The Little Foxes, You Can't Take it with You, Born Yesterday, Pal Joey, To Be Young, Gifted and Black (play), Guys and Dolls, Talley's Folly, A House Not Meant to Stand, A Soldier's Play, Fences, Sunday in the Park with George, The Visit, Dancing at Lughnasa, Arcadia, Floyd Collins, Hollywood Arms, Dinner with Friends, The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, The Light in the Piazza, I Am My Own Wife, and Rabbit Hole.
- Appler, Gilbert Keith. “Chicago’s Goodman Theatre: Plays and Cultural Work in an Institutional Theatre.” PhD dissertation, University of Illinois-Urbana. 1994
- Medgyesy, Laura Louise. "Chicago's Goodman Theatre: the transition from a division of the Art Institute to an independent regional theatre." PhD dissertation, American University. 1981
- Teague, Anna Dean. "Thomas Wood Stevens' Contributions to American Art Theatre With Emphasis on the Kenneth Sawyer Goodman Memorial Theatre, 1922-1930," PhD dissertation, The Louisiana State University, 1973.
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