Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department faculty member James Sherman will be on a panel discussing Chicago theatre and improv history when the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago’s Jewish Film Festival screens Compass Cabaret 55, a documentary about the fabled Compass Theater. The film, directed by Mark Siska, includes interviews with Chicago theatre notables, including the late chair of the Columbia College Theatre Department, Sheldon Patinkin, who is featured prominently in the film. (The film, two years in the making, was released in January 2015, after Patinkin’s death.)
The screening takes place Tuesday, June 23, at 7 PM at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, Chicago. Admission is $12 general, $10 for students. For tickets, click here. For more information on the Jewish Film Festival, click here.
Compass Cabaret 55 chronicles the birth of modern improvisational theatre through the work of the Compass Theater, founded in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood by David Shepherd and Paul Sills in 1955. Using the theatre games codified by Sills’ mother, teacher Viola Spolin, Compass launched the careers of such notables as Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Barbara Harris, and Shelley Berman, and paved the way for the sketch comedy of Second City. Patinkin was a longtime director and later artistic consultant at Second City, and Sherman is a former member of the Second City’s mainstage company who now teaches improvisation and playwriting. The improvisational comedy style introduced by Compass and then developed by Second City is a key foundation of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department’s BA Program in Comedy Writing and Performance, the only college-based program of its kind in the United States.