The Playground Theater, founded in 1997, remains the only continuously operating non-profit theater in Chicago dedicated to an art form invented in Chicago - Modern Theatrical Improvisation. The Playground was founded in 1997 by its original member companies. The Playground theater exists as a non-profit co-op, governed by its member companies, or "teams." The Playground currently is home to over 12 house teams in addition to guest teams, and members of the theater's Incubator Program. The Playgrounds Mission is to provide a home for comedians to grow as performers, writers, directors and producers. The Playground is committed to entertaining audiences with successful shows that reflect our core values: fun, freedom, and opportunity. Located at 3209 N. Halsted Street, The Playground features performances every night of the week at 8pm and 10pm.
From time to time the theater holds auditions for its signature Incubator Program, in which applicants are judged on their skills at scene-based improvised comedy. Those who pass are assembled into Incubator Teams with a certain guaranteed number of shows on The Playground's stage. The newly hatched teams are then free to govern their own fates, hire their own coaches, and generally pursue a career as an improv ensemble. Some Incubator teams eventually wind up applying for membership status with the theater.
The Playground launched Playground Theatricals in 2015 with the production of Don Chipotle, an original play written by Juan Villa. Playground Theater was created to provide a venue for Chicago’s improvisers to have more artistic control over the work they produce. Over the years The Playground has grown as an organization and expanded our programs, but improv has always been our foundation. At its core improv is about creation, and as such, The Playground wants to encourage, endorse and create opportunities for creators. In that spirit, Playground Theatricals was formed Playground Theatricals will solely focus on new works.
At the end of 2016, The Playground Theater announced the launch of a new program for writers, directors and performers called MOSAIC. MOSAIC which will focus on artists exploring individual identity and celebrating uniqueness. MOSAIC will acknowledge the diverse cultures that can be found within Chicago, while accentuating the common bond we all share as human beings. This program will represent the complex new American point of view that encompasses all voices, not just one. Although the program is new, it will soon be recognized as a place where artists can come to explore questions and opinions that may be considered challenging. MOSIAC accepted a 7 month MOSAIC writer and production residency will run in association with The Department of Cultural Affairs at the Chicago Cultural Center. MOSAIC will begin accepting submissions for COMEDY and THEATRICAL productions in 2016.
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