Trials of a Transient Theater Company | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Trials of a Transient Theater Company

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To the Editor:

In his final Culture Club column [November 10], Lewis Lazare writes: "Two and a half years ago Northlight's subscription sales were plummeting." Since Mr. Lazare's passion for opinion exceeds his command of facts, let the record note:

Northlight had 4,772 subscribers for the 1987-88 season, my first,

when the company's home was an elementary school, auditorium;

When we were forced out of Kingsley School on short notice at the end of my third season, we had 5,720 subscribers;

To retain our Evanston home, we took 47 days to convert a dilapidated movie house, the Coronet, into a theater. Despite its terrible sightlines and frequent complaints about parking, we left the Coronet four years later with 5,533 subscribers.

Then the real fun began:

Still planning to retain our Evanston base, we affiliated with National-Louis University in 1994. When Wilmette neighbors opposed our performing on campus, the university abrogated our contract. Northlght became homeless.

Over the next two plus seasons, we performed in nine different spaces in the city and suburbs. Our subscriptions sank to 3,774.

Finally, in 1997 we moved into the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. It took 22 seasons for the company to secure its first permanent home. We had 5,400 subscribers our first full season there, 1997-98, which was also my last.

That's the count of subscribers, not Mr. Lazare's imaginative recount.

I am happy the loyal audience that endured those peregrinations no longer needs to wonder where Northlight is performing from one production to the next. I trust that a permanent home in an accessible and modern facility, combined with fine productions, augurs stability and growth at Northlight for many seasons to come.

Sincerely,

RUSSELL VANDENBROUCKE

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, 1987-1998

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