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Emerald City to begin work on Little Theatre in September 2012
Jul 31, 2012

Emearald CIty Theatre - The LIttle TheatreEmerald City Theatre announces it will begin work on a remodel of its Lakeview storefront space at 2933 N. Southport Ave. The building will be fully gutted to be transformed into an intimate performance space and comfortable lobby, both designed and furnished specifically to welcome young children and their grown-ups. The extensive remodel plan is being lead with funding from MacArthur Foundation through Driehaus Foundation's PAV Fund for upgrading facilities for PAV license requirements.

"It is a natural extension of our current Little Theatre model work," says Executive Director Karen Cardarelli, "Often I watch the younger siblings, babies and toddlers, tagging along to the theatre, loving what they see, but constrained by the experience of a traditional show and facilities meant for adults. Those children will now have their own place to experience theatre in a way that is perfect for them."

Building on 16 years of creating theatre experiences for early learners, Emerald City will use the Little Theatre to expand their programing to an age group underserved by Chicago's arts community. In a performance space designed just for their unique early developmental needs, children ages zero to four will encounter a unique brand of 'no rules' theater especially for them. The Little Theatre will open with the original adaption of The Teddy Bears' Picnic in April 2013 supported by National Endowment for the Arts.

"After years of research and discussion, I am thrilled to put our plans for Theatre for the Very Young into practice," says Producing Artistic Director Ernie Nolan. "This highly participatory, immersive theatrical form deserves its own space. I could not be happier that Emerald City is taking part in the lead of a new form of Theatre for Young Audiences in the U.S."

The remodeled and updated building will also serve Emerald City's growing Theatre School, which hosts year round classes and camps for ages 3.5-13. Since its inception in 2006, Emerald City's Theatre School has quickly become one of the largest in Chicago.

"This remodel will provide a professional space in which our students will learn and perform. That level of professionalism aims to build confidence, self-image, and provide a true sense of accomplishment," said Education Director Jacqueline Stone.

Little Theatre model Emerald City is currently fundraising to support this project. The $75,000 effort has received lead funding from MacArthur Foundation through Driehaus Foundation's PAV Fund for upgrading facilities for PAV license requirements. Only $25,000 remains to be raised by January 2013 to complete the remodel project. Fundraising efforts will be centered around selling "bricks" in a painted Yellow Brick Road, a centerpiece of the Lobby design.

The remodel will include:

- An intimate flexible performance space to hold 50 people (children and their grownups) with professional theatrical lighting grid and sound system.

- Spacious lobby with interactive installations for early learners.

- A coffee bar, wi-fi, and stroller parking.

- Two family bathrooms complete with diaper changing stations.

- An exterior 'facelift' deigned by the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

- All parts of space will be both ADA accessible and 'kid' accessible (safe and welcoming for young children).

- Space will support Emerald City's growing Theatre School by doubling as a teaching space.

Emerald City plans to open the building in April 2013 with the opening of The Teddy Bears' Picnic.

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