“INDEPENDENT PLAYERS actively promotes interest in and support of theatre in Elgin, the Fox Valley and the northwest suburbs with adventuresome and entertaining programming and continually seeks to grow as an organization through productions of plays and musicals, service, education, fundraising, audience development and program enhancement.”
FROM OUR BY-LAWS
The purposes of the corporation are exclusively cultural, educational and civic, and will be accomplished by providing people in the Elgin area with a viable, creative and inter-cultural not-for-profit performing and visual arts program relevant to the needs of the population, utilizing and developing local talent, to enhance the cultural life of the community, and thereby helping to broaden the awareness of the representative cultural heritages of the area, and through such related activities as are desirable and proper within the limitations of section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended, and related provisions thereof.
A SHORT HISTORY
INDEPENDENT PLAYERS was founded in the summer of 1978 by two young Elginites—Tom Kanies and Nancy Potter—and their high school drama teacher—Don Haefliger. Its primary goal from its inception was to bring to the Fox Valley Area a brand of theatre that was completely different from anything produced by other local theatre companies. It would produce new and classic plays and musicals, many of which were only being produced by larger regional theatre companies. Throughout the years that elapsed since its founding, it has continuously done exactly what it set out to do. Today the only remaining founder is the high school drama teacher, but over the years, many young people have joined with adult actors in a wide variety of plays and musicals.
The first three shows—Jacques Bret is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (a musical), David Mamet’s A Life in the Theatre and Jim Zelewski’s A Bill of Affairs, (a world premiere musical based on Let’s Get a Divorce by Sardou and Nijac)—set the stage for the presentation of many plays which had never been seen locally before. In its third season, IP produced Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion, Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, an American classic and the great musical revue Side by Side by Sondheim which established IP’s propensity for the classics, old and new.
In the years that followed, IP continued presenting area premieres such as William Luce’s The Belle of Amherst, Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Teibele and Her Demon, Eric Overmeyer’s On the Verge, Michel Tremblay’s Les Belles Soeurs, Vaclav Havel’s The Increased Difficulty of Concentration, Athol Fugard’s The Road to Mecca, Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles and David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow, to name a few. In those same years, classics such as Goldoni’s The Venetian Twins, Oscar Wildes’ The Importance of Being Earnest, The Ideal Husband’ and A Woman of No Importance, Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Shaw’s Heartbreak House, Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard, Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Woman of Setzuan, Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Shakespeare’s Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream were among the many great classic plays produced.
Throughout the years, IP has changed venues, ticket prices and the number of plays it produces per season. One thing that has remained constant, however, is the fact that it consistently brings seasoned veterans together with new talented actors, directors and technicians to produce great performances of many exceptional plays—and musicals (such as Jesus Christ Superstar, A … My Name is Alice, I Do! I Do!, Cole, They’re Playing Our Song, Anything Goes, Dames at Sea, Still Waiting, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, The Club, Working and The Island of Dreams). In the future, IP plans to investigate creating a core acting company, members of which will have a voice in selecting plays and musicals for each new season. It will continue to engage young talented theatre artists to be more actively involved in the company, and to, perhaps, eventually establish a Youth Troupe. It may also occasionally present world premieres of plays and musicals, something it has long wished to do.
The biggest thing that has been a serious concern for years was the absence of a website through which the group can seriously put itself out in the community; at this time, it takes a huge step forward by launching its state-of-the-art website to promote its activities throughout the Chicagoland area. The website has been in the planning stages for two years and in September, IP has achieved its goal to launch independentplayers.org in 2015 as planned.
Over the years, IP has had some great times as well as some not so great times, but it has, despite any seemingly overwhelming difficulties, found a way to persevere due to the efforts of a core group of individuals who believe in it and keep it going season after season. It will certainly continue to build on its past, but it realizes that the past is only the foundation upon which what is to come will be built. In this 38th season (2015-16), IP will take up residence at the Elgin Art Showcase in September-October, March, and May to produce a musical revue (Love4), a comic drama (The Octette Bridge Club by P.J. Barry) and a witty, very personal play (Third by Wendy Wasserstein), all of which are described on the HOME page. There are plans to present a surprise as well (more on this later when it is finalized).