Founded in 1990, Chopin Theatre has grown into one of America’s most active arts centers, producing, co-producing or presenting over 500 theater, music, film, literary and social events each year. Our mission is to promote enlightened civic discourse through a diverse range of artistic offerings. A privately-held institution, it operates without public funding.
Chopin Theatre has produced over 110 of its own productions, mostly Eastern European, and has hosted performers from every state in the U.S. and from over 40 countries. Our many guests have included Pulitzer winners Gwendolyn Brooks, Yusef Komunyakaa, Phillip Levine, Charles Simic and Studs Terkel; MacArthur Genius receiptents David Cromer, Stuart Dybek, Aleksander Hemon and Ken Vandermark; authors Mircea Catarescu, Haki Madhubuti, Sara Paretsky, Art Shay, Zadie Smith, Bronislaw Wildstein and Howard Zinn; poets Nikki Giovanni, Luis Rodriguez, Mark Smith, Michael Warr and Adam Zagaewski; actors John Cusak and Jeremy Piven; musicians Edward Auer, Peter Brotzman, Chuck D., Kurt Elling, Von Freeman, Fareed Haque, Eddie Henderson, Pawel Kaczmarczyk, Adam Makowicz, Rob Mazurek, Dominic Miller, Jarek Smietana and Paul Wertico; and visual artists Andrzej Dudzinski, Tony Fitzpatrick, Piotr Krajewski, Ed Paschke and Franciszek Starowieyski.
Chopin Theatre has also organized over 60 interviews or “Spotkania” with leading Polish and Polish American cultural and political figures including Wesley Adamczyk, Grazyna Auguscik, Urszula Dudziak, Andrzej Dudzinski, Stuart Dybek, Jan Englert, Slawomir Fabicki, Feliks Falk, Andrzej Franaszek, Natasza Goerke, Ryszard Horowitz, Kazimierz Kalkowski, Tymoteusz Karpowicz, Tadeusz Konwicki, Krzysztof Krauze, Ireneusz Krosny, Ryszard Krynicki, Frank Kujawinski, Leszek Madzik, Bronislaw Maj, Michal Pawel Markowski, P. Marcinkiewicz, Andrzej Nowak, Marek Nowakowski, Jan Peszek, Maciej Płażyński, Piotr Sommer, Franciszek Starowiejski, Andrzej Stasiuk, Grzegorz Stec, Jozef Szajna, Joanna Trzeciak, Beata Tyszkiewicz, Bronislaw Wildstein, Bronislaw Wroclawski and Adam Zagajewski.
Chopin Theatre's I-Fest , an international festival of solo performances, brought to Chicago artists from 10 countries -- Austria, England, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Ukraine.
AWARDS AND HONORS
Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit 2012 – President of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski. Presented to Chopin Theatre for promotion of Polish Culture
4 Best of Year Theater Awards 2010 - Chicago Sun Times, TimeOut Chicago and NewCity
Chopin Theatre chosen as Chicago Venues that Matter the Most - Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune 2/19/10. (Some of the other honorees include Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Civic Opera House, Harris Theatre, Pritzker Pavillion Millenium Park, Steppenwolf Theatre, etc).
6 Best of Year Theater Awards 2008 - Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times and TimeOut Chicago
"..Back at Chopin Theatre -- now one of my favorite artistic spaces in the entire city -- the experience was familiar in all of the right ways. You can't go wrong at the Chopin right now.." - Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune (Victory Gardens & The Hypocrites, Two Different Ways To Take Charge) 02/10/12
“Chopin Theatre’s international vision grows. The Chopin Theatre has made a huge effort in recent years to import some of the more interesting, imaginative and controversial theater productions on the European scene." - Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun Times 10/31/08
Critic’s Choice - “ Opportunities to see world-class experimental theater in Chicago are few and far between. But for three years running Chopin Theatre director Zygmunt Dyrkacz has brought Poland’s astonishing image-based Teatr Cogitatur” - , Justin Hayford – Chicago Reader 8/11/05
“Chopin Theatre , one of the last old-school entertainment venues in Wicker Park, this theater houses some of Chicago’s best storefront companies” - Editors, TimeOut Chicago 7/31/08
“enchantingly funky Chopin Theatre in the Wicker Park neighborhood..” - Charles Isherwood, New York Times 11/9/08
"Chicago Venues that Matter the Most" "Great theaters need great karma. And even though the basement theater in this double-fisted Wicker Park venue is beset by pillars, it somehow brings out the best in directors. This is where David Cromer's "Our Town" began along with many other fine shows. Upstairs, there's a big, flexible space that encourages creativity. With kindly, theater-loving owners and great Polish beer at the bar; the Chopin is a composer of merit" - Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune 02/19/10
“Question : Where will you find both the trendiest European audiences and the most European-style theater in Chicago? Answer: At the Chopin Theatre”. - Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun Times 8/10/05
"Chopin owners Zygmunt Dyrkacz and Lela Headd have played host to some of the most thrilling theater the city’s had to offer during the last 17 years: ..not to mention the European troupes the husband-and-wife team has imported and produced on its own dime” - C. Piatt & K. Vire, TimeOut Chicago 9/26/07
“…In addition to playing host to Chicago's best itinerant companies, the Chopin's husband-and-wife proprietors Zygmunt Dyrkacz and Lela Headd go to great lengths to bring eastern European artists…” - Kris Vire, The Guardian 9/29/09
“But there I was last Saturday night, in the bustling lobby of the Chopin Theatre in Wicker Park -- a community asset of the first order -- trying to weasel my way into a sold-out Rossellini screening" - Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune 9/7/07
“The Chopin Theatre, which has just completed a run of a play by the Romanian –born French playwright Matei Visniec, was founded 14 years ago by Polish émigré Zygmunt Dyrkacz. It has been these smaller entrepreneurial, risk-taking venues that have provided fertile ground for Playing French” - Jeremy Grant, The Financial Times 11/11/04
“No one does more to bring European theater to the City than Chopin Theatre..” - Chris Piatt, TimeOut 10/27/05
“ Different companies peel in and out of spaces like the Chopin each remaking it how they see fit, tearing down the world and building it up again..” - Ben Winters, Performink 12/22/00