Awards & Kudos


September 15, 2007; Champaign IL

Community Theatre Division:

I am honored to present the Award of Excellence for the Community Theatre Division because the recipient is someone I hold in high regard and have had the privilege of working with on several occasions.  Her name is Karen Fort and she is the Director of Chase Park Theater.  Many people haven't heard of Chase Park Theater simply because of its size.  A tiny theatre in the uptown neighborhood, Chase Park Theater is nestled in between some major non-equity theatres that have gained much popularity; however, I truly believe that it is only a matter of time before Chase Park Theater earns the reputation it deserves.

Chase Park Theater, a function of the Chicago Park District, has served the community for over 30 years, providing drama instruction and fully staged, semi-professional productions.  Karen Fort became director in 1998 and drew from a high caliber of trained actors who, in turn, drew other experienced theater artists.  Chase Park Theater has helped boost individual careers and spawn new theater companies.

The mission of Chase Park Theater is to create classic theater for the diverse Uptown community.  The inclusive collaboration of  theater brings together experienced and emerging actors, master designers and committed beginners from very different backgrounds.  The urban audience is welcomed into an accessible, affordable theater experience that helps to transcend barriers and connect to the wider community.  In doing this, Chase Park Theater and Karen Fort develops actors, designers and technicians to the next level of their careers, and provides a forum for experienced designers and performing arts workers who wish to contribute their knowledge and talent back to the roots of their industry.

Chase Park Theater was chosen for this award because it exemplifies the mission of this year's theme at the ITA Conference:  "Connecting Between Divisions."  Karen Fort has masterfully connected all divisions recognized by the ITA on this small stage on the 2nd floor of the Chase Park Park District building.  As a professional theater artist herself, Karen includes professional talent (both on stage and off) in all of her productions.  She utilizes the education she received from her recently achieved Masters Degree on a daily basis and is constantly striving to learn more and share her expertise.  As an instructor, Karen Fort has taught all levels of acting and creative dramatics to children and adults of all ages and backgrounds. In fact, teenagers off the street, seniors from the neighborhood, and children from the afternoon classes have participated in productions.  She has recently begun a children's theatre division within Chase Park by providing teenagers in high school an opportunity to perform mainstage productions.  Chase Park Theater truly strives for the highest possible quality in all of their productions.

Is is for these reasons that I proudly present the Award of Excellence in Community Theatre throughout the state of Illinois to Chase Park Theater, and Director Karen Fort. Congratulations.

Aimee-Lynn Newlan

Managing Director

Illinois Theatre Association

We were awarded the 2007

Award of Excellence for the Community Theatre Division of the Illinois Theatre Association in September, 2007! We are honored to be recognized by this statewide award!

Scroll down for more!