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Chopin Theatre

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File:Chopin Theatre Chicago Illinois.jpg
Address 1543 W. Division St
Chicago, IL 60642
Owner Zygmunt Dyrkacz and Lela Headd
Capacity 226 Main; 175 Studio
Production 456 theatrical, literary and music presentations (2011)
Opened 1918
Reopened 1990
Architect M.F. Strunch Architects

Chopin Theatre is an independent, for-profit arts center located across the Polonia Triangle in Chicago's Wicker Park, considered to be one of Chicago's more artistic communities.


Founded in 1990, Chopin Theatre has grown into one of America’s most active arts centers, producing, co-producing or presenting over 500 theater, music, film, literary and social events each year. With approximately 1,800 unique events over its 25 year history, its mission is the promotion of enlightened civic discourse through a diverse range of artistic offerings. Chopin Theatre is privately held and operates without public funding.

Chopin Theatre has produced over 110 of its own productions, mostly Eastern European, and has hosted performers from each American state and from over 40 countries. Its many guests have included Pulitzer winners Gwendolyn Brooks, Yusef Komunyakaa and Studs Terkel; authors Stuart Dybek, Aleksandar Hemon, Haki Madhubuti, Sara Paretsky, Art Shay, Zadie Smith, Bronislaw Wildstein and Howard Zinn; poets Nikki Giovanni, Luis Rodriguez, Mark Smith, Michael Warr and Adam Zagajewski; actors John Cusack and Jeremy Piven; acclaimed musicians Edward Auer, Peter Brotzman, Chuck D., Kurt Elling, Von Freeman, Fareed Haque, Adam Makowicz, Rob Mazurek, Dominic Miller and Paul Wertico.

Chopin Theatre has also organized over 60 interviews or “Spotkania” with leading Polish and Polish American cultural and political figures including Wesley Adamczyk, Grazyna Auguscik, Urszula Dudziak, Andrzej Dudzinski, Stuart Dybek, Jan Englert, Slawomir Fabicki, Feliks Falk, Natasza Goerke, Ryszard Horowitz, Kazimierz Kalkowski, Tymoteusz Karpowicz, Tadeusz Konwicki, Krzysztof Krauze, Ireneusz Krosny, Ryszard Krynicki, Frank Kujawinski, Leszek Madzik, Bronislaw Maj, Michal Pawel Markowski, P. Marcinkiewicz, Andrzej Nowak, Marek Nowakowski, Jan Peszek, Maciej Płażyński, Piotr Sommer, Franciszek Starowiejski, Andrzej Stasiuk, Grzegorz Stec, Jozef Szajna, Joanna Trzeciak, Beata Tyszkiewicz, Bronislaw Wildstein, Bronislaw Wroclawski and Adam Zagajewski.

Chopin Theatre is also the producer of I-Fest, an international festival of solo performances which has brought to Chicago 17 international artists from 10 countries—Austria, England, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Originally constructed in 1918 by M.F. Strunch Architects as a 987 seat Nickelodeon, today it houses a Main Stage (226), Cabaret Studio (50-100) with its Pregnant Buffalo Lounge, the Nelson Algren Café, East Wing Art Gallery and the office/residence of owners Zygmunt and Lela Dyrkacz.


The building of the Chopin Theatre was designed in 1918 by M.F. Strunch Architects as a 987 seat theater at 1541-43 W. Division Street. Today it houses a Main Stage (226) and a Cabaret Studio (50-100) with its Pregnant Buffalo Lounge. According to the Theatre Historical Society of America, the theatre's name has changed several times over the years from Chopin Theatre to Harding Theatre, back to Chopin Theatre and then to Pix Theatre from 1940-1948. During the next 40 years it went through a number of alternate uses: Security Federal Savings and Loan; thrift shop; discothèque, etc. In 1990 the vacant building was purchased by the Dyrkacz Family and gradually restored.

Notable guests


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