Actor, photographer, and Jeff Award-winning stage combat choreographer Ryan Bourque (BFA ’09), a graduate of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department‘s acting program, will unveil an exhibit of photographic portraits of Chicago theatre artists on Monday, December 7, at the Den Theater, 1331 N. Milwaukee, in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Titled “Meronymy: Part of the Whole,” the display will offer a preview of a challenging and exciting project Bourque has undertaken over the past couple of years: to create an oral history of Chicago theatre by interviewing and photographing a diverse array of Chicago theatre makers. The event starts at 7 PM and continues throughout the evening. Free Half Acre beer will be served from 7:30 to 8:30, and a full cash bar will be available all evening.
“For two years, I’ve worked on a portrait project rooted in an exploration of the Chicago Theatre Community, by combining oral interviews and portraits of people who are involved. This is my first public showing of the work and I will be hanging a portion of the content created from the 46 interviews conducted so far,” says Bourque, a company member of the Hypocrites.
The December 7 gallery opening, which is free and open to the public, will kick off a fundraising campaign for Bourque’s ongoing book project to create an oral and visual chronicle of Chicago theatre. “Eighty hours of interviews have already been invested in this project, and the fundraiser is geared toward getting it to the next level,” notes Bourque.
“So far, this project has involved many people, and each with a totally unique perspective. Their experiences inspire, and have continued to drive me through this exploration for two years,” Bourque adds. “From the beginning it’s been a goal of mine to cultivate community discussion, collaboration and celebration through this project. This opening is the first step in that direction.”
The evening will include a presentation by Bourque about his project at 9 PM, followed by a reading from Bourque’s interview with the late Sheldon Patinkin, longtime chair of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department. Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member Francis Guinan will read the Patinkin excerpt.
Also on the agenda: a 9:30 PM performance by the band Babe-alon 5. Live music will also be performed by Charles Otto of Grood.
Among the theatre artists photographed and interviewed by Bourque so far in this ongoing project are Sheldon Patinkin, Michael Shannon, Kirsten Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Laidlaw, David Woolley, Mike Nussbaum, Caroline Neff, Michael Patrick Thornton, David Pasquesi, Brett Neveu, Cheryl Lynn Bruce, John Judd, Bonnie Metzgar, Kimberly Senior, Chay Yew, Molly Brennan, Jonathan Berry, and many more — a diverse group of Chicago theatre practitioners, including many Columbia College Chicago alumni and teachers.
According to Bourque, seven portraits will be displayed in 36″ x 40″ handmade wooden frames. Also on display will be 20 11″ x 17″ portraits, also in handmade frames, along with excerpts from the interviews, more information about the project, and information on how to get involved.
“From the beginning it’s been a goal of mine to cultivate community discussion, collaboration and celebration through this project.”