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Magic Circle Theatre Records

Identifier: spe-ctc-mct

Scope and Contents

The Magic Circle Theatre Records include promotional and production files containing programs, posters, photographs, flyers, scripts and reviews for productions from 1972 through 1977. There is a single folder of general correspondence and other theater-related promotional material.


  • 1972-1977


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

The Magic Circle Theatre was founded in Seattle, Washington by Goodman Theatre School alumnus Guy Giarrizzo. The theater was dedicated to the investigation of innovative techniques and the development of new plays that were original and imaginative. Giarrizzo defined their style as “theatre that encourages a spontaneous organic and total environment between performer and audience.”

After a year in Seattle, Magic Circle moved to Chicago and became one of the resident theaters at the Body Politic in January 1973. Their first two productions, Bite On! and a Japanese Noh-style adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone were well received and the theater decided to make Chicago its permanent home. That year, Magic Circle was also presented with the Chicago Drama Critic’s MacArthur Award for Outstanding Ensemble Work.

In September 1973, Magic Circle moved to the Wellington Avenue Church where it continued to present original work and avant-garde adaptations such as Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, set in an asylum-like atmosphere inspired by Chekhov's short story Ward No. 6, and a science fiction musical based on Christopher Columbus called Plumed Serpent: The Fourth Voyage of Kristopher Kolumbus. Magic Circle was also host to other companies, such as the San Quentin Drama Workshop, as well as collaborating with local theaters. One such collaboration was the Jeff Award-winning Green Julia by Paul Ableman, produced with the All-Media Drama Workshop.

Magic Circle disbanded in 1977 when Giarrizzo left his role as director.


.5 Linear Feet (in 1 box (including 24 photographs, 1 audiocassette) and 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



The Magic Circle Theatre was founded by Goodman School alumnus Guy Giarrizo and dedicated to the investigation of innovative techniques and the development of new plays. It became one of the resident theaters at Body Politic in 1973. The collection consists of promotional and production records including programs, posters, flyers and reviews. There are also copies of several original scripts from early shows.


The folder of general correspondence and other theater-related promotional material is listed first, followed by production files arranged chronologically by theater season, and then by production title.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Access to some audiovisual material may not be possible due to available replay equipment or to state of physical media. Please contact the archives before your visit.

Physical Location

Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least 24-hours prior to your research visit to coordinate access.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Guy Giarrizzo in 1988.

Related Materials

  • Body Politic Theatre Collection
  • Chicago Theater Videotape Collection

Separated Materials

Videotapes have been removed to the Chicago Theater Videotape Collection.

Guide to the Magic Circle Theatre Records
Original author unknown. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Sarah Zimmerman, 2021.
circa 1988
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Photographs interfiled intellectually and physically from hanging folders

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository

Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States
(312) 747-4875