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Chicago Theatermakers Talk

A Companion site for Ensemble: An Oral History of Chicago Theater
by Mark larson
 Agate publishing, 2019 

Photo: Sarah Elizabeth Larson


A continuing


Robert Smith 6.23.16
Roanku Jahi.2_Fotor
Burr with K and O
Caroline Heffernan
With George Wendt
 MArk with Val Gray Ward
Heather Chrisler interview_Fotor
Jim Fisher by plane _edited
Brett Neveu int_edited
Audrey Francis int.
Joyce Piven HS.SEL
Milburn. Bodeen

Chicago is a bona fide theater town, bursting with an explosive, innovative vitality that not only provides enrichment for Chicagoans but feeds every sector of the entertainment industry—from Hollywood to Broadway to Studio 8H—for as long as it’s delighted dedicated local fans. Ensemble is an in-depth, first-of-its-kind history of Chicago’s internationally celebrated theater scene, spanning 65 years and told through first-person accounts from the people who made it happen.

Among many other topics, this book explores the early days of the fabled Compass Players and the legendary Second City in the ’50s and ’60s; the rise of internationally acclaimed ensembles like Steppenwolf in the ’70s; the explosion of storefront and neighborhood companies that began in earnest in the ’80s; and the enduring global influence of the city as the center of improv training and performance. 

Drawing from more than 300 interviews, Ensemble weaves a narrative that expresses the spirit of Chicago’s ensemble ethos: the voices of celebrities such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ed Asner, Harry Lennix, George Wendt, Michael Shannon, and Tracy Letts co- mingle with stories from designers, composers, and others who have played a crucial role in making Chicago theater so powerful, influential, and unique.

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ORDER Ensemble



André de Shields

A debt

I owed my parents

Photo: Matthew Murphy, Billboard


Complete list of



Playwright and Second City alum, James Sherman

Photo: Jennifer Girard

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© 2019 by Mark Larson. 

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