30+ Years of Curious Theatre

Hello friends,

The Curious Theatre Branch is now in its 33rd year of producing new work in Chicago. We, like you, are feeling the strain and strangeness of this time, and we wanted to say hello and let you know some of the things we are up to.

First, we at Curious wish to offer shared sadness and heartfelt thanks to Prop Thtr, who announced the closure of their Elston Avenue venue in July, after 17 years of operation there. Prop co-produced Rhino Fest with Curious for the past decade, and often hosted Curious as a resident company, creating space for dozens of memorable shows and events among our shared communities. The Elston building will be missed, but Curious applauds Prop staff for their fortitude in maintaining the building for as long as possible, and their determination to continue producing ensemble-driven work in this new itinerant phase.

Jayita stands before the Prop Thtr, August 2020.

You may be wondering about Rhino this year. We want to say unequivocally that Rhino Fest is not going away. The members of Curious, along with our collaborators and friends, are committed to producing the Rhinoceros Theater Festival again live and properly when that is possible; in the meantime, we remain committed to encouraging and helping develop new, independent works of the imagination (which often found a home or a starting point in the Rhino), using the media, mentorship, and safe alternatives left to us. We will be looking toward what is possible in 2021. Visit rhinofest.com for updates.

T-Roy Martin in Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, part of the 2016 Rhinoceros Theater Festival.

We are also continuing in our communal quest to “make stuff”. Curious company member Matt Rieger brings Aviva Green: The Re-Birth of Bleak, a new radio drama performed by Curious and friends. Aviva builds on characters from Rieger’s 2018 stage play Crossing Aviva, an ensemble tale about a criminal underworld ruled by two “queenpins”. The cast of the eight-episode audio play includes original Aviva cast members Julia Williams, Kelly Anchors, and Cat Jarboe, along with Rieger and others, and audio production by Curious co-founder Jenny Magnus and Ralph Loza of Experimental Sound Studio. Aviva Green: The Re-Birth of Bleak will debut in the fall.

Kelly Anchors in Matt Rieger’s Crossing Aviva.

Ever a writer-dense ensemble, Curious takes this time of increased indoor hours and introspection to assemble its first book, a volume of theater works by our writers past and present. Bryn Magnus, Julia Williams, Jayita Bhattacharya, Matt Test, Shawn Reddy, and Matt Rieger will contribute new and archival works, along with Curious cofounders Beau O’Reilly and Jenny Magnus.

Also coming later this year: A new song cycle written and recorded by The Crooked Mouth, Curious’s house band. Focusing on songs as a kind of performative writing, The Crooked Mouth is creating a performance for the ears, which will hopefully have a live component by 2021. As featured in Still in Play: A Performance of Getting Ready (2011), The Crooked Mouth has a theater bent, and is working on a group of recordings that is a narrative in itself, both in individual songs and collectively. The new album, to be released by Uvulittle Records, will be a live show when we can all gather again.

The Crooked Mouth

We are thinking of you, friends. We encourage ongoing support for organizations doing work toward racial justice: Brave Space Alliance and My Block My Hood My City are just two among many; consider supporting their work financially, and getting involved where you can. What are you reading, doing, thinking about in this time? Stay in touch with us on Facebook, over email, or when we pass each other in the neighborhood (six feet apart).

Curious Theatre Branch
August 12, 2020