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9 Reasons We’re Obsessed with Chicago’s Mary Zimmerman

September 14, 2016 by Constance Fred
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Chances are that if you’re a theater person, or specifically a Chicago theater person, you already know full well who director, writer, and artist Mary Zimmerman is.

What you might not know, are the nine reasons why we love her. Which is why we’ve laid them out for you here.

Photo Credit: Lisa Ebright
Photo Credit: Lisa Ebright

1. She’s a dedicated Chicagoan.

Originally from Nebraska, and after growing up in Europe, she received her BS, MA, and PhD from Northwestern University throughout the 80s and 90s and has stayed close to the Windy City since then.

Photo by Justin Barbin
Photo Credit: Justin Barbin

2. She’s big news.

An ensemble member at Lookingglass Theatre and the Manilow Resident Director at Goodman Theatre, you can catch her production of the classic musical Wonderful Town this fall.

Wonderful Town at Goodman Theatre
Wonderful Town at Goodman Theatre

3. She doesn’t limit herself artistically.

She adapts, writes, and directs, and has worked in straight theater, musical theater, and opera.

Photo Credit: Mary Zimmerman's production of Lucia Di Lammermoor at the MET, Cory Weaver
Photo Credit: Mary Zimmerman’s production of Lucia Di Lammermoor at the MET, Cory Weaver

4. She won a MacArthur Fellowship (you know, the “Genius Grant”).

You know who just won that last year? Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Photo Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

5. She’s not about that Aristotle nonsense.

She innovates ways to break conventional narrative form and gets to our innermost hearts via an unexpected route.

6. Sitting in the splash zone of Metamorphoses was life-changing.

‘Nuff said.

Photo Credit: still from The Pittsburgh Public Theater’s production of Metamorphoses, Ric Evans

7. She creates plays that have splash zones.

Like what?

Photo Credit: still from the PlayMakers Repertory Company production of Metamorphoses, Michal Daniel
Photo Credit: still from the PlayMakers Repertory Company production of Metamorphoses, Michal Daniel

8. She’s a well-seasoned storyteller.

Most of the stories she tells are adaptations of ancient world classics that have been passed down for centuries all over the globe, which is neat.

Photo Credit: still from the Arena Stage production of The Arabian Nights by Mary Zimmerman, Stan Barouh

9. She’s political.

In 2003 when it became clear that the U.S. was going to invade Iraq, she canceled her upcoming Goodman production of Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci in favor of doing the Greek tragedy Trojan Women, “the greatest anti-invasion text [she] could think of.”

still from the Goodman Theatre production of Trojan Women, photo credit Goodman Theatre
Photo Credit: still from the Goodman Theatre production of Trojan Women, Goodman Theatre

So if you like being reminded of the wonders of humanity in an increasingly fractured political landscape, check out her work, starting with Wonderful Town, opening September 10 at the Goodman Theatre. She’ll give you all the good feels.