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Lookingglass Theatre Company is a non-profit theater company in Chicago, Illinois.


Lookingglass was founded in 1988 by David Schwimmer, David Catlin, Eva Barr, Thom Cox, Lawrence DiStasi, Joy Gregory, David Kersnar, and Andy White.[1] The company's first production, Through the Lookingglass, was directed by David Kersnar and was produced at the Great Room in Jones Residential College on the Northwestern University campus.

The company has since produced more than sixty world-premiere plays, including Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses, as well as her adaptations of The Arabian Nights and The Odyssey. The company also premiered and toured creator David Catlin's circus-driven re-imaginings of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland in Lookingglass Alice[2][3] and Herman Melville's Moby Dick.[4] Other productions have included David Schwimmer's adaptations of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and Studs Terkel's Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession.

Recent productions include Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas, adapted by David Kersnar and Althos Low;[5] Plantation!, a play about reparations, written by Ensemble Member Kevin Douglas and directed by Ensemble Member David Schwimmer;[6] Beyond Caring,[7] created by British author and director Alexander Zeldin.[8]


Currently, Lookingglass is led by Artistic Director Heidi Stillman,[9] and Executive Director, Rachel Fink.[10] Fink is preceded by Rachel Kraft, who served as Executive Director for 12 Seasons and oversaw the company's 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award; a 2016 $1 million MacArthur Award for Creative and Effecting Institutions; and the 2017 League of Chicago Theaters Artistic Achievement Award.[11]


The Lookingglass Company is made up of cross-disciplinary artists: 24 Ensemble Members and 23 Artistic Associates.

The ensemble includes David Schwimmer, Joey Slotnick and Mary Zimmerman. Artistic associates include Deanna Dunagan.


Lookingglass won the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award and has won over 45 Joseph Jefferson Awards in its 30 Seasons.[citation needed]

New work

Glassworks is Lookingglass' New Play Development program. The company has produced 66 World Premieres and has three World Premiere plays slated for its next 2018-19 Season.

Recent world premieres

Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas.[12]
Mr. and Mrs. Pennyworth
Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure
In the Garden: a Darwinian Love Story
Still Alice
The North China Lover

Other premieres

Eastland: A New Musical
Lookingglass Alice
Around the World in 80 Days
Black Diamond
Moby Dick
The Arabian Nights
Hans Christian Andersen's The Steadfast Tin Soldier
Act(s) of God
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Educational programming

Lookingglass sponsors in-school residencies and student matinee programs for students in Chicago Public Schools. The company also offers classes and artistic summer camps for youth.[13] In 2006, Lookingglass founded The Young Ensemble, where children devise and produce their own work.

Community engagement

Lookingglass participates in a Reflect Series, a series of Sunday post-show panel discussions featuring local experts.


In 2003, Lookingglass moved inside the Chicago Water Tower Water Works building in Near North Side, Chicago.

The main stage is in the black-box style, meaning the seating can be rearranged for each production. Lookingglass artists can reconfigure the stage and seating arrangements to meet the design needs for specific productions. The theatre has a maximum capacity of 240 persons, including 60 possible seats on the removable balcony level. There is also a multi-purpose studio space, used for education programs, special events, and rehearsals.[14]

Designed by Morris Architects Planners, the space is a converted landmark. It houses the Lookingglass performance space, lobbies, dressing rooms, and concession areas, as well as a Chicago Public Library.[15] Additionally, the station continues to pump 125 million gallons of water to Chicago's north side every day.[16]

The historic water pumping station building that houses the Lookingglass Theatre Company
The historic water pumping station building that houses the Lookingglass Theatre Company

An itinerant theater company for years, Lookingglass moved into a permanent home on June 14, 2003, with a new theater in the renovated Water Tower Water Works on Chicago's Magnificent Mile.

Its first production in the new space was an adaptation of Studs Terkel's Race, adapted and directed by David Schwimmer.[17]

See also