A theater that once served as a staple in Chicago comedy gets a fresh start, thanks to Program Director Megan Hartmann and the team behind the Newport Theater. This week on the blog, Megan shares her thoughts on working to make this classic space into BTD’s exclusive venue for the cutting edge of fringe-style performance.
BTD: Newport Theater is the new name of a theatre with an old history in Chicago. Can you tell us a bit about what motivated this transition?
Hartmann: When I took over programming at the theater formerly known as Under the Gun Theater, I wanted to be a clear distinction that we were trying something completely different than the improv/stand-up comedy shows that had previously been in the space. While “under the gun” is an improv term for being creative under pressure, I still had a hard time with the idea of guns being included in the theater name for a variety of reasons. We are located on Newport Avenue, so we wanted to reflect that. Since we want to book a variety of different fringe theater shows in the space, we wanted a name broad enough to make sense for all our new programming here.
BTD: What can audiences expect from Newport’s freshened-up programming?
Hartmann: We’re working to bring this neighborhood high-end fringe theater – primarily art forms rooted in the nightlife cabaret field like burlesque, drag, belly dance, pole dance, and more. In addition, we offer comedy events, movie screenings, and other artist-led productions. We also have a new mirrored dance studio where we’re currently offering a variety of burlesque and comedy classes, in addition to renting to artists for private usage.
BTD: Tell us a bit about your fundraiser this Friday!
Hartmann: As an independent performer/producer myself, I’ve identified a need for an affordable, well-appointed theater space to showcase this type of work. We’ve been putting a lot of effort and energy into upgrading the space, including installing professional dance mirrors in our new dance studio, redecorating the theater to be more in line stylistically with the type of programming we’re showcasing, and going through the legal end of our name change.
Our fundraiser show is on Friday, August 9th and will feature acts from all our regularly occurring shows including:
Plan 9 Burlesque
Boy Toys Pocket Cabaret
Raks Geek/Raks Inferno
Delirium: A Bohemian Caba-Rave
Chicago Academy of Burlesque
The Wild Side – A Badass Pole Show
The Blackout Diaries
Proceeds will go toward investments in the space, support for shows, and creating programs/resources to better support future fundraisers/grant programs in the space. Come have a great time and support our exciting transition!