Founded in 1988 by Jenny Magnus and Beau O’Reilly—as the Curious Theatre “Branch” of the alt-rock cabaret act Maestro Subgum and the Whole—Curious has consistently worked with an ensemble of artists in a non-hierarchical decision-making process, through which the philosophy of collaboration as a social force is explored on every level.
Curious has produced more than 100 full productions of world-premiere plays in 25 years, including Jenny Magnus’s Round and Round: a sexfarcetragedy at the Lunar Cabaret and the MCA Chicago, Bryn Magnus’s Love Horse, Shawn Reddy’s White Suit Science, and Beau O’Reilly’s Crowtown, Truck in Pieces, Whiskey in Blue, and The Madelyn Trilogy. For its 2011–2012 season, Curious was invited to return to the Museum of Contemporary Art for a year-long workshop culminating in Jenny Magnus’s Still in Play: A Performance of Getting Ready on the MCA stage.
In 1995, Beau O’Reilly was named one of the 50 most influential people in Chicago theater by Chicago Magazine. In 1998, Beau O’Reilly and Jenny Magnus were named among the Artists of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, and nearly every year since 1998 Newcity has included them among the 50 most influential people in Chicago theater. Curious’s Waiting for Godot and The Caretaker were named among the top five theater productions of 2006 and 2009, respectively, by Newcity. In 2007, Curious Theatre Branch won an Orgie Award for its year-long Samuel Beckett festival, No Danger of the Spiritual Thing: 100 Years of Beckett, which premiered in a site-specific performance at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and most recently Curious teamed up with the Prop Thtr for the premiere of Barrie Cole’s smash hit Clumsy Sublime.
One of [Chicago's] most innovative and prolific collectives...—American Theater Magazine
Makers of rude, strange, often brilliant original work...—Chicago Reader
If Curious Theatre Branch had been based in New York... this troupe of mature and accomplished performers would be receiving national attention. Graduate students would be writing masters' theses on its intense, collectively conceived work; progressive magazines would be writing laudatory articles; its shows would be appearing on college art series all across the country... this rich, complex, and stylistically daunting work is every bit as fascinating as, say, Mabou Mines...—Chicago Tribune
By turns marvelous, thought-provoking, important, trivial, tedious, infuriating, fascinating, vague, confusing, absorbing, off-putting, flawed and flawless... really shouldn't be missed by anyone who cares about experimental theater...—Newcity
Going to the Curious Theatre Branch is like visiting the back room of your favorite bar: the place is a dump, the people are friendly, and by the time you leave, your mind will be wonderfully altered.—Chicago Reader