Chicago – The Jeff Awards announced today that Strawdog Theatre Company will be presented with a 2018 Non-Equity Special Award for 30 years of collaboration as an innovative and provocative Ensemble. Strawdog has been dedicated to its mission of bringing audiences “the whole wide world in a little black box,” and is known for its enduring theatrical history. As described by the Ensemble itself, “When the Earth is destroyed by plague, war and famine there will still be cockroaches, Twinkies and Strawdog Theatre Company.”
Known for its massive ensemble (over 140 members throughout its 30 years), Strawdog has constantly worked to feature exciting new works, reimagined classics and modern favorites that speak to our American lives. Strawdog presented their first production, Five of Us, in 1988 while working out of the Shakespeare Street Theater. The Ensemble went on to produce many other memorable and award-winning productions, including Burn This (1996), Hurlyburly (1999), Detective Story (2004), Marathon ’33 (2007), Red Noses (2010), Great Expectations (2014) and Barbecue (as a LookOut Visiting Company at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre) (2017). The final production of Strawdog’s current 2018 season is Damascus, a world premiere by local playwright, Bennett Fisher, and directed by Raven Theatre’s Artistic Director, Cody Estle, which runs through June 23, 2018.
Strawdog has explored theatre in many exciting and challenging ways, including 31 world premieres, 8 fully produced radio plays, 7 Shakespeare plays, and 3 Chekhov classics. Strawdog’s longtime venue was located atop a steep staircase at 3829 N Broadway where, in addition to the Mainstage, they created an additional 50-seat theatre known as Hugen Hall (after the late Ashley Hugen, a beloved Strawdog friend). Hugen Hall served as a home for new work and adaptations, as well as Chicago Theatre’s Community Center where late night audiences enjoyed original programming including BYO, The Hit Factory, Theatre Wars!, The Game Show Show and Stuff, The Direct Off!, Nikki and the City and J&M Comedy Hour.
After Strawdog’s home of 26 years was demolished for redevelopment in 2016, the Ensemble spent a year at The Factory Theater in Rogers Park, mounted a production at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre and eventually found a new home at 1802 W Berenice (previously occupied by Signal Ensemble Theatre and most recently Oracle Productions).
Strawdog has been nominated for 61 Jeff Awards and received 24 Awards that span every category across the ballot, which is testimony to Strawdog’s excellent and comprehensive theatrical vision.
The 45th Annual Non–Equity Jeff Awards will be hosted by Veronica Garza and held on Monday, June 11, 2018, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with several cash bars available, and the awards will start at 7:30 p.m. Following the show, cash bars will remain open and complimentary light bites will be available.
Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 on June 11. To purchase tickets, visit the Athenaeum website (http://athenaeumtheatre.org) or TodayTix app. A group rate of $40 is available for parties of 10 or more by calling the Athenaeum box office. Festive cocktail attire is suggested, and the public is cordially invited. TodayTix is an official sponsor of the 45th Annual Non–Equity Jeff Awards. For more information, contact Drew Blau, Non–Equity Wing Chair, at [email protected]. Follow live tweets from the ceremony and behind the scenes at #jeffawards.
The Jeff Awards has been honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since it was established in 1968. With up to 55 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre (including producers, directors, actors, playwrights, designers, professors of theatre, entertainment lawyers and agents, and theatre lovers), the Jeff Awards is committed to celebrating the vitality of Chicago area theatre by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards, and honors. Opening night judges include not only the members but also Artistic & Technical theatre volunteers (the “A/T Team”), including Artistic Directors, producers, directors and artists from Chicago theatres. The Jeff Awards fosters the artistic growth of area theatres and theatre artists and promotes educational opportunities, audience appreciation, and civic pride in the achievements of the theatre community. Each year, the Jeff Awards judges over 300 theatrical productions and host two awards ceremonies. Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the Jeff Awards established the Non–Equity Wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non–union theatre. The next Equity Awards will be held on Monday, October 22, 2018, at Drury Lane Oakbrook.