History and Mission

Vitalist Theatre was founded by Robin Metz (Executive Producer) and Elizabeth Carlin- Metz (Artistic Director) in 1997 and is dedicated to the living memory of Liz Jahnke Metz (1951-93). Liz was an actress, director, and teacher who devoted herself to theatre that embraced intellectual and emotional danger. Hers was a visceral theatre. Both Robin and Liz (to the second power) strive to keep that kind of experience alive in the theatre for the audience and the artists alike.

Vitalist's aesthetic is based in Expressionist Realism. An elusive term-magical realism, perhaps comes closest. If one accepts that non-realism is more real than realism in that it more closely replicates our experience of existence rather than our reflection on existence, then perhaps Expressionist Realism can be understood as Meta- Realism. Realism as a form artificially orchestrates our experience of existence into cause and effect linearity, whereas the blurring of the boundaries between realism and expressionism as a form allows us to expose what is usually repressed and to investigate the chaos that gives rise to the inconsistencies and tumult that define the human condition. It is the space in between our perception of reality and reality itself that we seek to explore and make manifest.

Vitalist's work is derived from a wide spectrum of dramatic literature. We choose plays for content and context: ideas that are explored viscerally and are challenging, relevant, and which move us. Vitalist seeks to embody text and relies on actors with a strong predilection toward movement and designers who create environments that respond to movement and emotion. We are passionate about texts that are idea and language driven with supple and often lyrical language. Vitalist varies the creative approach to respond to each text and production company. As Artistic Director of Vitalist Theatre, Elizabeth Carlin-Metz draws upon years of experience (Los Angeles, Great Britain, Chicago) in both traditional and experimental theatre. Under her direction, Vitalist Theatre, with its distinctive fusion of physical theatre, psychological dynamism, and Expressionist Realism, has established itself as a respected and award winning member of the Chicago off-loop theatre community and routinely garners significant critical praise in the company of the best of Chicago theatre, the most vibrant and prolific theatre city in the USA. Vitalist Theatre further celebrates visceral ideas through its commitment to visual expression and the written and spoken word as presented in its allied arts co-events, such as visual art installations and poetry readings by internationally renowned poets presented in conjunction with the plays.

Vitalist is structured in the mode of contemporary European theatre companies. Our models are Theatre de Complicite and Shared Experience-both internationally renown, London based companies that exhibit an individualized approach to theatre, and are not hidebound in their creativity by adhering to one particular niche or brand: creativity itself is the brand. In the European tradition, every production constitutes a company in which production staff, artists, and technicians come together for that production. Many may return for future productions. All who have worked with Vitalist Theatre are considered by Vitalist to be company members, coming and going as projects provide opportunities. Vitalist seeks to create a workspace where all individuals and their work are respected and all persons present in the rehearsal hall are equally regarded collaborators. We extend that perspective to our audience and the community in which we live and work, and from which we draw our inspiration.

Vitalist Theatre is also pleased to have the launched in 2008 its Emerging Artists Series, Vitalist Second Wave. This wing of Vitalist work provides a forum for company members to explore their creative voices in production and staged readings.

Artist and production resumes are welcome at: lizcarlinmetz@gmail.com

Vitalist Theatre Production History:

The Mill on the Floss adapted by Helen Edmundson (Inaugural production, 1997)
Floating Rhoda and the Glue Man by Eve Ensler (1998)
Hunger and The Imperfect Librarian adapted by Marc Von Hammel, Primitive Science, UK (1999)
The MC of a Striptease Act Never Gives Up by Bodo Kirchhoff, Dialogue Theatre Productions, UK and Berlin (2000)
The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol adapted by Mark Wheatley and Simon McBurney, Complicité (2003)
King Lear, by William Shakespeare (2004)
Anna Karenina, adapted by Helen Edmundson (2005)
Mother Courage and Her Children adapted by David Hare (After Dark Awards-Excellence in Directing, Excellence in Acting: Actress; Excellence in Original Composer) (2006)
The Bay at Nice by David Hare (2007)
365 Days/365 Plays by Susan Lori Parks (2007)
A Passage to India adapted by Martin Sherman (After Dark Award-Technical Achievement; Jeff Nomination-Best Actor) (2008)
Anung's First American Christmas by Robin Metz, from a story by Carl Nordgren, as told to him by Ojibway Tribal Council Chief Steve Fobister (Baminowekapo) of the Grassy Narrows Reserve, Canada (World Premiere, 2008)
The Night Season by Rebecca Lenkiewicz (Jeff Nominations-Best Supporting Actresses; Jeff Award-Best Supporting Actress) (2009)
Calderón de la Barca's Life is a Dream in a New Version by Helen Edmundson (2011)
The Ghost is Here by Kōbō Abe (2012)
American Shot by Evelyne de la Chenelière and Daniel Brière (Stage Reading- -International Voices Project: 2012)
pool (no water) by Mark Ravenhill (2012)
The Walruses (Las Morsas) by Laura Liz Gil Echenique (2015)
Multitudes by John Hollingworth (2016)

Vitalist Theatre Special Events:

Visual Art

Collisions: Knox College Faculty & Alumni Art Show, Blue Rider Theatre Gallery
Large-Souled Women: Solo Art Show-Ronnah Metz, Blue Rider Theatre Gallery
Harrowing Love: Mixed Media 3D Art Installation-Robin Metz (Installation Artist), included works by Tony Gant, Theatre Building Chicago
Securing the Peace: Mixed Media 3D Art Installation-Robin Metz (Installation Artist) included works by Tony Gant, Theatre Building Chicago
Dada Masques: Ten 2D Collages-Robin Metz (Collage Artist), Rob Reed (Photographer), Theatre Building Chicago
Ganga Passes: Mixed Media 3D Art Installation-Robin Metz (Installation Artist), Theatre Building Chicago
Weeds, Seeds, Skulls, and Trees: Mixed Media 3D Art Installation-Robin Metz (Installation Artist), included works by Brita Nordgren and Ronnah Metz, Theatre Building Chicago
Sligo: Portals, Surf: Mixed Media 3D Art Installation-Robin Metz (Installation Artist), included works by Lynette Lombard, David McDowell, Mike Godsil, and Charles Greiner, Theatre Building Chicago

Distinguished Poets Produced by Vitalist Theatre

Yevgeny Yevtushenko (Russia), Theatre Building Chicago
Aaronwy Thomas (Wales), Theatre Building Chicago, Green Mill, International Poetry Workshop
Peter Thabit Jones (Wales), Theatre Building Chicago, Green Mill, International Poetry Workshop
Yuyutsu D. Sharma (Nepal, India), Theatre Building Chicago, Green Mill, Chicagoland Poets Reading
David and Judy Ray (Arizona), Theatre Building Chicago
Ken Waldman (Alaska), Theatre Building Chicago
E-Poets.net, Kurt Heintz, Founder and Publisher (Chicago), recorded poetry readings; various international poets

Jeff Awards Nominations
Vanessa Greenway (Rosaura/Astrea) has been nominated for a non-Equity Jeff Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Life is a Dream with Premiere Theatre and Vitalist Theatre. Read the full article in the Chicago Tribune.

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