Bailiwick Repertory Records
Scope and Contents
Bailiwick Repertory was founded in 1982 to be a contemporary theater with a classical core that fostered directors and strove to provide affordable, accessible and responsive entertainment to that reflected Chicago’s diverse communities. The records document Bailiwick’s productions, operations and artistic mission and include its Deaf Bailiwick Artists, Directors’ Festival and Pride Performance Series productions.
The materials include box office reports, correspondence, financial reports, grant applications, meeting materials, news clippings, photographs, programs, promotional materials, scripts and scores.
- 1953 - 2000
- Majority of material found within 1982 - 2000
- Bailiwick Repertory Theater (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.
Biographical / Historical
Bailiwick Repertory was founded in 1982 by a seven-member consortium led by managing directors David Zak and David Pearson. The repertory’s early goal was to support the artistic vision of directors and produce rarely seen classic plays that were made accessible to modern audiences. Bailiwick’s first season included Joseph Jefferson Award-winning productions of The Country Wife and Holiday.
By the end of the 1983-1984 season, David Zak was the only original founder still with Bailiwick. He continued to direct plays there, as did Michael Ouellette, Doug Findlayson and Kyle Donnelly.
From 1982 to 1986, Bailiwick productions moved from the Theatre Building on Belmont Avenue to the Beacon Street Theatre, to the space above Cabaret Metro on Clark Street. In 1987, Bailiwick settled in a permanent home in the Jane Addams Center at 3212 N. Broadway. Following the move and a budget increase, Bailiwick’s goal shifted from exclusively presenting the classics to a program of productions serving the theater’s diverse audience. The award-winning productions of Emily Mann’s Execution of Justice and Chicago playwright John Logan’s Nebraska are representative of Bailiwick’s commitment to contemporary plays of social consequence or political interest. The 1987 musical adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm was a runaway hit and added dancing and singing to Bailiwick’s repertoire.
Bailiwick’s commitment to supporting Chicago directors also emerged early. The Dark Night Series began in Bailiwick’s first season and continued as a showcase for local directors for the next decade. This was followed by the Encore Series that provided a forum for short classics and contemporary scripts. By 1989, Bailiwick expanded its Auxiliary Programs. The Pride Performance Series (originally called the Gay and Lesbian Play Series) began as a summer series geared to the large gay community in Bailiwick’s Lake View neighborhood, but its success made it part of the larger Chicago theater community. The Directors’ Festival gave young directors an opportunity to craft their art with the resources of an established theater company. In 1995, the Our Town production included interpretation for deaf and hearing audiences, and this evolved into the Deaf Bailiwick Series.
In 1992, Bailiwick moved from the Jane Addams Center and returned to the Theater Building as a permanent tenant. The larger stages and a more ample reception area better served their growing audience. In 1994, Bailiwick moved next door to 1229 W. Belmont Avenue and renamed the venue, Bailiwick Arts Center. In addition to their own productions, the new space was leased to other community arts groups.
The theater closed in 2009.
19.5 Linear Feet (in 39 boxes and 1 oversize folder, includes 211 photographs, 4 slides)
Language of Materials
Bailiwick Repertory was founded in 1982 to be a contemporary theater with a classical core that fostered directors and strove to provide affordable, accessible and responsive entertainment that reflected Chicago’s diverse communities. The records document Bailiwick’s productions, operations and artistic mission and include its Deaf Bailiwick Artists productions, Directors’ Festival and Pride Performance Series.
The Bailiwick Repertory Records are arranged into three series:
Series 1: Production History Files, 1982-2000
Series 2: Administrative Files, 1953-2000
Series 3: Artistic Files, 1985-1994, undated
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 David Zak and Bailiwick Repertory in 1992.
Additional materials were donated by David Zak in 2005, 2006 and in 2008 (Please see archivist for more information about these additions).
- Children's theater -- Illinois -- Chicago Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Deaf, Theater for the Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Gay theater Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Lakeview (Chicago, Ill.) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Theater -- History -- Sources Subject Source: Local sources
- Theater -- Illinois -- Chicago -- 20th century Subject Source: Local sources
- Theater programs -- Illinois -- Chicago Subject Source: Local sources
- Theater--Production and direction Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Guide to the Bailiwick Repertory Records
- Original author unknown. Updated in 2023 by Michelle McCoy. Ingested into ArchivesSpace by Michelle McCoy, 2023.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English
Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository
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