Not A Company - A Theatrical BookClub
The genesis was in February 2018. I met Daniella Wheelock, a young theatre director warm from a stint at the Milwaukee Rep's Emerging Professional Residency program, at a play reading of my own for Joyland. At the time she was telling tales of assisting on a Steppenwolf production of You Got Older and musing about a new idea she was forming to keep young artists talking to each other and making connections. Wheelock entitled her idea 'The Playground,' a name that would eventually change to it's current branding, 'The Open Concept.'
In late March I was approached by Wheelock, along with a dozen or so other local artists, via lengthy email recommitting our interest to the theatre collective and surveying our attitudes about format. In a subsequent message, I was asked to take upon myself a leadership role to help get the ball rolling. I agreed. And, after several sit down meetings with Daniella new club was formed.
According to the description found in the 'About' section on 'The Open Concept' Facebook group (Now a private page, but I am told will be public within the next few months):
"The Open Concept (OC) is a collective of artists based in Chicago created to build community and a free space to play beyond the stresses and financial responsibilities that come with a production rehearsal room. Think of it like your favorite lab in college -- or recess in grade school. Monthly events are curated to engage and develop craft throughout the theatrical disciplines, and may be lead by any member of the collective. FB Message us with your ideas for events! As an on-going attempt to keep up with the pulse of Chicago theatre, each month a show will be selected out of the hundreds within the city. The OC will attend the show as a group -- we're the date that won't bail on you! We look forward to playing with you ;)"
Over the last several months artists, small in number but large in ambition, have been meeting in various locations and capacities as part of The OC's inaugural year. I have attended new play readings, productions, free-space creative sessions, and seminars all relating to the art form I hold so dear. Also, the presence of the Facebook group alone has slowly started becoming a platform for members to post about shows that they are working on or to let other artists know when they have some spare complimentary tickets to offer.
If you are interested in learning more about The Open Concept or becoming part of the collective, you can message Daniella Wheelock at firstname.lastname@example.org