Michael Menendian and JoAnn Montemurro founded Raven Theatre Company in March of 1983, and remain the artistic directors of the company today. The company was itinerant until August of 1985, when it moved into a storefront in the Rogers Park neighborhood of North Chicago in a space which had previously been the Rogers Park Post Office. The company renovated the space into a 70-seat black box theatre. During its time in this location, the company produced 41 shows, most of which were revivals of classic works from the American canon.
The Rogers Park space was taken over in 1999 by the Chicago Public School system, and the company was forced to find a new home. With the assistance of community leaders and philanthropists, Raven purchased a 10,000-square foot building in November of 2000 at the corner of Granville and Clark in the Edgewater neighborhood of North Chicago, which had previously housed a grocery store. Over the course of two years, the company renovated the space to fit the needs of a theatrical venue. It now has two stages – a 130 seat East Stage and a 55 seat West Stage, as well as administrative offices for the company’s five full-time and five part-time staff members. In 2016 the company liquidated the mortgage on the building and now owns it outright.
Raven began performing in its Edgewater location in August of 2002. As of June, of 2016, Raven has mounted 53 productions in this building, most of which again were revivals of classic American plays. However, beginning in 2014 the company began a concerted effort to include more Chicago and World Premieres in its programming. In 2003 Raven began an educational program, which it calls “Take Flight”. The program involves Saturday classes, a summer camp program, field trips to the theatre for elementary school students, and in-school residencies providing classroom instruction in theatrical skills for students from elementary through high school.
The company entered a new phase of its development in June of 2013. The company hired its first executive director, strengthened its board of directors with new members who possessed a broader array of organizational development skills, and expanded its staff to include full-time development and marketing personnel. In so doing, the company nearly doubled in size, moving from 350,000 to 400,000 in revenue to 700,000 to 800,000 in revenue. Raven is continuing to implement its strategic plan of developing the infrastructure necessary to ensure that the theatre will remain a vibrant part of the Chicago theatrical landscape following the eventual retirement of its founders.
[Full Production History Coming Soon]