Around the Hood: Staying Cool at Jackalope

Chicago’s Jackalope Theatre Company will finally be playing it cool this summer. Friedrich (a manufacturer of room air conditioners) donated two Ductless Split Systems to the organization. The AC units are being installed at Jackalope’s theater within Broadway Armory Park located at 5917 North Broadway Avenue.

The theater company brings to life the American spirit by only staging productions of newly developed and established American works. The plays inspire their audience by encouraging theater goers to consider what it means to be American with its sharing of stories of diverse cultural backgrounds. A new generation of local theatre artists can partake in classes and community events.

“People loved our shows, but did not enjoy sitting through two hours in a non-air conditioned theater. This new system will allow our patrons and actors to experience our theater comfortably year-round,” said Nate Silver, managing director of the Jackalope Theatre Company.

“We are pleased to make this donation to add to the comfort level of such a worthwhile organization that is focused on making its community a better place for both youth and adults as well as offering them an avenue to express creativity and engage in performances,” said Wink Chapman, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Friedrich Air Conditioning. “For decades, the people of Chicago have supported our company by choosing our products to cool their homes and businesses efficiently. This new system will allow patrons and actors to experience theater comfortably year-round in the historic venue.”

Built in the 1916, the structure now known as Broadway Armory Park was originally Winter Garden Ice Skating Rink. By the end of World War I, the structure was modified for use as an armory operated by the National Guard for drilling and training. In 1998, it was purchased by the Chicago Park District, making it the park district’s largest indoor recreational facility. With the help of city officials, Edgewater residents, and donors, Jackalope turned an unused military garage within the Park into a 60-seat theater.

Jackalope is the brainchild of three senior directing majors at Columbia College in Chicago. As part of a class project, they created a fictional theatrical production company. That dream became a reality in 2008, and Jackalope is now in its seventh season.

Based in the Edgewater neighborhood, Jackalope’s series of late night programming including comedy, concerts, and in-process play readings provides a safe space for residents. “This promotion of positive loitering after dark is something we will expand in the coming months with plans to increase the number of late night shows and to continue our prime-time programming in our theater within Broadway Armory Park,” added Silver.

Every year Jackalope performs three full length plays and a one-act festival of new plays. The theater company is the recipient of the 2015 Broadway In Chicago Emerging Theater Award as well as four nominations for the 2014-15 non-equity Jeff Awards, which celebrate excellence in Chicago theater. Since 2008, Jackalope has produced 18 shows including 11 world premieres and served an audience of more than 12,000 as well as collaborating with over 300 artists.

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