Theatre Y is dedicated to the international laboratory to investigative theatrical work with an ever-diversifying group of collaborators from many lands.  These partnerships serve two invaluable functions.

First, they filter out work of peripheral merit: automatically, they get to the core of the human experience. Believing that the truth lies between two contradictions, we seek out our human contradiction and together we tell the truth.

The partnership also forces a new form -- an authentically theatrical language -- to bridge the gap between languages, cultures and traditions. International collaboration removes all security, all notions of expertise, all rules, for both parties, and the loftiest ideals of the theater suddenly become real again.

To put it succinctly, we seek formidable allies worldwide and we produce work with them.

Andras Visky Christopher Markle Karin Coonrod kevin v smith

Andras Visky Christopher Markle Karin Coonrod kevin v smith

Our history

Theatre Y was founded in 2006, by actor Melissa Lorraine and director Christopher Markle. The company is steeped in the theatrical traditions of Eastern Europe, which Chris Markle advanced until his death in 2008. Chris had a long artistic partnership with the Romanian director Liviu Culei and worked with other primal masters of the Eastern European theatre, including Lucian Pintilie and Tadeusz Kantor. These collaborations - in addition to the traditions and work of Romanian-Hungarian playwright András Visky - influenced the companyʼs founding, with Viskyʼs play Juliet as its first production. Written about his mother, the play centers around Andrásʼ first memories in a communist gulag.  Theatre Y toured Chris Markle's production of Juliet internationally for four years, over  250 performances in Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Canada, Israel, Palestine and across the United States. 

In the winter of 2010, Theatre Y produced its first play in Chicago: the world premiere of Andras Visky's I Killed My Mother.  Written for Lorraine and directed by New York director Karin Coonrod (who was also shaped by Liviu Ciulei), I Killed My Mother played to sold-out houses at Chicagoʼs Greenhouse Theater and garnered critical acclaim (Cover of the New York TImes Art Section).  It also attracted long-time collaborator Kevin V. Smith to the company, who would go on to create 14 productions with Lorraine.

Discovering that there was an audience for this kind of work, Theatre Y has continued to find spaces across Chicago, collaborators across the world, brought productions to New York, Italy, Serbia...

In 2015, Theatre Y became an ensemble with the help of Georges Bigot – central to Ariane Mnouchkine's Théâtre du Soleil during the '80s and '90s and one of France's most celebrated actors.  Mr. Bigot has formed ensembles in Cambodia, Mali, and France, as well as Tim Robbin's company in LA - The Actor's Gang.  He has now also helped us to form and nurture a vibrant, hard working, and multitalented ensemble originally built around Theatre Y's Macbeth at the Chopin Theatre, as part of Chicago’s Shakespeare 400 Festival in 2016. Lorraine leads this 14 member ensemble to develop a common language and a new way to make theater without the “dictator”.