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According to the Theater Historical Society of America, Chopin Theatre opened March 1918 and was designed by architects Worthmann & Steinbach. The nickelodeon orginally had 546 seats and was operated by Victor Bardonski. In 1923 it was renamed the Harding and seating capacity was expanded to 987. By 1931 it was called Chopin again but underwent another name change to the Pix Theater. The building is located across the Polish Triangle in the area once name as Polish Downtown.

 

In 1955 the building changed to Security Federal Savings & Loan which later moved across the street.  When the Dyrkacz Family purchased the building in 1990, it was vacant except for the small 200 sf Eddie's Bistro.  The Dyrkaczs have gradually restored the building to its present charm.  Today, across three stges, Chopin Theatre presents over 500 events annually ranging from theater to jazz and classical music, literature, film and social events.

 

Chopin Theatre has presented over 120 of its own productions, mostly Eastern and Central European.  It has hosted performers from each American state and from over 40 countries.  It produced I-Fest, an international festival of solo performances bringing 17 international artists from Austria, England, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Ukraine to Chicago.  The venue has attracted over over 1 million people to its events.

 

Famous Chopin Theatre alum include: Literature - Gwendolyn Brooks, Mircea Cartarsecu, Kevin CovalJim Derogatis, Stuart Dybek, Michael Erik Dyson, Nikki Giovanni, Aleksandar Hemon, Malalai Joya, Greg Kot, Yusef Komunyakaa, Li-Young Lee, Philip Levine, Haki Madhubuti, Sara Paretsky, Luis Rodriguez, Charles Simic, Zadie Smith, Studs Terkel, Bronislaw Wildstein, Adam Zagajewski and Howard Zinn; Actors/Directors - Nathan Allen, David Cromer, John Cusack, Jennifer GraceSean Graney, Sean Gunn, Witold Izdebski, Steve James, Krzystof Krauze, Steve Pink, Jeremy Piven, Jan Peszek, Patsy Rodenburg, and Pip Utton; Musicians - Edward Auer, Peter Brotzman, Chuck D., Urszula Dudziak, Kurt Elling, Kahil El Zabar, Nils Frahm, Von Freeman, Fareed Haque, Adam Makowicz, Rob Mazurek, Dominic Miller, Third Coast Percussion, Michal Urbaniak, Ken Vandermark, and Paul Wertico; Visual Artists - Tony Fitzpatrick, Ryszard Horowitz, Tony Karman, Wesley Kimler, Aaron McGruder, Liviu Pasare, Ed Paschke, Art Shay, and Franciszek Starowieyski among many others.

 

Chopin Theatre has also organized over 60 interviews or "Spotkania" with leading Polish and Polish American cultural and political figures including Wesly Adamczyk, Grazyna Auguscik, Andrzej Dudzinski, Jan Englert, Slawomir Fabicki, Feliks Falk, Natasza Goerke, Kazimierz Kalkowski, Tymoteusz Karpowicz, Tadeusz Konwicki, Ryszard Krynicki, Frank Kujawinski, Leszek Madzik, Bronislaw Maj, Michal Pawel Markowski, Andrzej Nowak, Marek Nowakowski, Maciej Plazynski, Piotr Sommer, Andrzej Stasiuk, Grzegorz Stec, Jozef Szajna, Joanna Trzeciak, Beata Tyszkiewicz and Bronislaw Wroclawski.

 

Since 1990 over 2,000 events and thousands of artists have graced the Chopin Theatre stages. For complete information visit our Archives.

 

AWARDS AND HONORS

Chicago Venue that Matters the Most - Editors of Chicago Tribune, 2010
Chopin Theatre selected along with others such as Art Institute of Chicago, Civic Opera House/Lyric Opera, Orchestra Hall and
Pritzker Pavilion/Millennium Park.

6 Best of the Year Theater Awards 2008  - Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times and TimeOut Chicago (Miss Julie and Our Town  by The Hypocrites and Uncle Vanya by Tuta Theatre. Our Town became 1 of 2 plays going on to Broadway in 2008.

Three Consecutive Best of the Year Theater Awards: 2003, 2004 and 2005
- Chicago Tribune For Chopin Theatre’s production of Teatr Cogitatur (Katowice, Poland) U.S debuts


Diploma “Outstanding Achievement in Promoting Poland Abroad” – Minister Foreign Affairs, Anna Fotyga to Chopin Theatre for promotion of Polish Culture

2006 Director of the Year Brandon Bruce - Orgie Theater Award for Chopin Theatre’s Production Slawomir Mrozek’s Tango.  

2005 People Making a Difference in Theatre  - Performink
For presenting the best of experimental European theater including I-Fest and Teatr Cogitatur

2005 Producer of the Year Zygmunt Dyrkacz - Orgie Theater Award
Chopin Theatre’s Production La Luna and Aztec Hotel by Teatr Cogitatur

1 of 4 Most Successful For Profit Arts Groups – Donors Forum
(Donors Forum is an 1400+ member association of leading philanthropists including MacArthur Foundation, Driehaus Foundation and Ford Foundation.  Other honorees: Broadway in Chicago, Blue Man Group and Corbett v Dempsey Gallery).


PRESS 

"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

“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

“…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

“enchantingly funky Chopin Theatre in the Wicker Park neighborhood..” - Charles Isherwood, New York Times

“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

“Chopin Theatre is a really indispensable place for theatrical and other artistic gatherings
” - Andrew Patner, WFMT Radio

“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

“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

"Chicago Shakespeare gets a lot of well deserved praise for bringing in high-profile European troupes. But those who wish to see the best of experimental European theater..know that Wicker Park’s Chopin is the place to go..” - Kerry Reid, Performink Chicago

“No one does more to bring European theater to the City than Chopin Theatre..”
- Christopher Piatt, TimeOut Chicago

Critic's Choice - “ Opportunities to see world-class experimental theater 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


 “ 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 Chicago


 “For the past 15 years Zygmunt Dyrkacz has been presenting international experimental theater at the scrappy Chopin Theatre” - “Mystery Achievement” - Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader

“..and you’re at the Chopin Theatre to begin with – one of the cooler, brick-walled, atmospherically attractive performance spaces in Chicago.” - Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

“If we’d stayed at Chopin Theatre, we would’ve gotten our regulars. Going downtown is an inconvenience for them, not part of their comfort zone” - Anthony Moseley in Performink Chicago

“the impassioned and intelligent Dyrkacz is far from your typical theater owner. Dyrkacz not only rescued the Chopin (built in 1918) from demolition but now oversees some 500 performances per year. Not only is this a very viable space creatively, but the Chopin also is among the city's most affordable little theaters to rent” - Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

”During the past few years, Zygmunt Dyrkacz, who runs the Chopin Theatre at 1543 W. Division, has been single-handedly trying to showcase the world of contemporary Polish theater, appealing to the large Polish-American community here, as well as to the many local theater artists who can learn from the Poles' inventive techniques” - Hedy Weiss, Chicago Tribue


FESTIVALS/ART PROGRAMS

24 Hour Plays Festival
Around the Coyote Arts Festival
Beck Institute Family Arts Festival
Chicago Comedy Festival
Chicago Filmmakers
Chicago Humanities Festival
Chicago International Documentary Film Festival
City of Fools Clown Festival
FMP/German Jazz Festival
Gay/Lesbian Film Festival
German Poets Festival
Guild Complex literary series
I-Fest, Festival of European Solo Theater
Juwenalia Polish Students Festival
Ladyfest Midwest Chicago Festival
National Poetry Slam
National Poetry Video Festival
Northwestern, University of Chicago and University Illinois at Chicago
      international lectures
Onion City Film Festival
Paderewski In The Park Piano Festival
Playing French Festival /
Puppetropolis Chicago Festival
Sketchbook One-Act Theatre Festival
Solopalooza Sketch Comedy Festival
Sound of Silent Film Festival
Storyweek Festival of Writers with Columbia College
Sister Cities Festival
Transmission Experimental Sound and Video Festival
Tribute to Mrozek and Herbert Festival
Women In the Directors Chair Festival
World Music Festival
Young Chicago Authors literary series