Chicago Through a Dramaturg’s Eyes


Or, rather, Chicago through many dramaturgs’ eyes.

For the 2019 LMDA conference in Chicago, I wanted to continue to explore a method of understanding place that had begun many years earlier (and was in part inspired by the Radiolab episode on Cities that included this idea that each city warps time and, in doing so, creates its own rhythm). Personal kinesthetic experience of a place creates a deep, embodied, and individualized understanding of place, as one moves through the spaces of a city (or a suburb or a neighborhood or…). Combining the idea of a city tour (see the Chicago Architecture River Cruise as an example) with the city-based immersive performance (see the 2014 production of Since I Suppose), the following presentations of the city from one person’s point of view invites you to step into their perspective and experience Chicago through both your eyes and another’s at the same moment.

Chicago’s dramaturgical cup runneth over.  The city is blessed with an abundance of theatre and an abundance theatrical perspectives.  It is also a city that is designed for exploration, offering a variety of delights for the 21st century flaneur.  These tours of the city led by the city’s dramaturgs, presented during the 2019 LMDA conference, take advantage of both the city’s sensory delights and its wealth of dramaturgical perspectives.  These tours are a natural extension of a panel that Richard Pettengill and I led on Chicagoturgy during the Chicago Theatre symposium in 2011, and of the Dramaturgy Focus Group Pre-Conference I led for ATHE in 2016, as well as my own doctoral research.  I worked with a handful of Chicagoturgs to create a set of walking tours designed to highlight some of their favorite Chicago places and Chicago stories.  LMDA are offering these tours as podcasts that conference attendees can download and use as they desire throughout the conference.  On the opening day of the conference, June 20th, we have organized a roundtable with the Chicago dramaturgs who created the walking tours in order to introduce them to conference-goers and encourage them to make use of them while they are here for LMDA 2019, and to reflect on how each of these perspectives allow for a different experience of Chicago and a different performance of the city for tour participants.

Scroll down the page for each tour, with accompanying photos, links, and other goodies. Some are short, some are longer, some are close to our conference site, and some might encourage you to have an adventure!

We love Chicago. We made these with love. We hope you enjoy these tours and even come to love Chicago too - at least these small parts of it.


Michigan Avenue at Columbia College

Columbia College Entrance - photo by Maren Robinson

Columbia College Entrance - photo by Maren Robinson

Street View of Columbia College - photo by Maren Robinson

Street View of Columbia College - photo by Maren Robinson

Agora - photo by Maren Robinson

Agora - photo by Maren Robinson


Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center - photo by Maren Robinson

Chicago Cultural Center - photo by Maren Robinson

Tiffany Glass Ceiling at the Chicago Cultural Center - photo by Maren Robinson

Tiffany Glass Ceiling at the Chicago Cultural Center - photo by Maren Robinson

The Book Room in the Old Water Tank - photo from Chicago Public Library web site

The Book Room in the Old Water Tank - photo from Chicago Public Library web site

Queen Victoria Bookplate - photo from Chicago Public Library web site

Queen Victoria Bookplate - photo from Chicago Public Library web site


The murals in Pilsen

Pilsen Mural Declaration of Immigration - photo by Karen Jean Martinson

Pilsen Mural Declaration of Immigration - photo by Karen Jean Martinson

Pilsen Mural LNY - photo by Karen Jean Martinson

Pilsen Mural LNY - photo by Karen Jean Martinson

Pilsen Mural Perez Bird Mask - photo by Karen Jean Martinson

Pilsen Mural Perez Bird Mask - photo by Karen Jean Martinson

Pilsen Mural Perez Damen - photo by Karen Jean Martinson

Pilsen Mural Perez Damen - photo by Karen Jean Martinson

You can find more images of the murals in Pilsen online at the following links: WTTW and Chicagoist


Fine Arts Building

Fine Arts Building Entrance - photos by Maren Robinson

Fine Arts Building Entrance - photos by Maren Robinson

Staircase at the Fine Arts Building - photo by Maren Robinson

Staircase at the Fine Arts Building - photo by Maren Robinson

Mural at the Fine Arts Building - photo by Maren Robinson

Mural at the Fine Arts Building - photo by Maren Robinson

Mural Detail at the Fine Arts Building - photo by Maren Robinson

Mural Detail at the Fine Arts Building - photo by Maren Robinson

audio Block
Double-click here to upload or link to a .mp3. Learn more

Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary

Woods at Montrose Point - photo by Maren Robinson

Woods at Montrose Point - photo by Maren Robinson

Magnolia Warbler at Montrose Point - photo by Maren Robinson

Magnolia Warbler at Montrose Point - photo by Maren Robinson

Snowy Owl at Montrose Point - photo by Maren Robinson

Snowy Owl at Montrose Point - photo by Maren Robinson

Red Winged Blackbird at Montrose Point - photo by Maren Robinson

Red Winged Blackbird at Montrose Point - photo by Maren Robinson


Statue Stories and Mural Registry

Montgomery Ward Statue in Grant Park - photo by Maren Robinson

Montgomery Ward Statue in Grant Park - photo by Maren Robinson

QR Sign at Ward Statue - photo by Maren Robinson

QR Sign at Ward Statue - photo by Maren Robinson

Mural Near Columbia College - photo by Maren Robinson

Mural Near Columbia College - photo by Maren Robinson

Mural Near Columbia College - photo by Maren Robinson

Mural Near Columbia College - photo by Maren Robinson

Mural Near Columbia College - photo by Maren Robinson

Mural Near Columbia College - photo by Maren Robinson


The Monk at the Art Institute

The Art Institute from the El Platform - photo by Maren Robinson

The Art Institute from the El Platform - photo by Maren Robinson

For more information on The Monk, check out the Art Institute’s web site.


lutz pastry shop in lincoln square

Lutz Pastry Shop Exterior - photo by LaRonika Thomas

Lutz Pastry Shop Exterior - photo by LaRonika Thomas

Strawberry Whipped Cream Torte and Coffee at Lutz - photo by LaRonika Thomas

Strawberry Whipped Cream Torte and Coffee at Lutz - photo by LaRonika Thomas

Lutz cafe has a web site.


Lessing Statue in Washington Park

Lessing with Voting Sticker - photo by Maren Robinson

Lessing with Voting Sticker - photo by Maren Robinson

Lessing Detail - photo by Maren Robinson

Lessing Detail - photo by Maren Robinson

Lessing Picnic for LMDA Conference Attendees in 1990 - photo from LMDA archives

Lessing Picnic for LMDA Conference Attendees in 1990 - photo from LMDA archives

audio Block
Double-click here to upload or link to a .mp3. Learn more

Find more information about the Lessing statue here and here.


Banner photo (at top of page) by Maren Robinson