"The 103-year-old Chopin Theatre will survive the pandemic thanks to donations from supporters.

The owners of the theater at 1543 W. Division St. launched a fundraiser last year to help manage monthly operating costs, which total $12,000 and cover a mortgage, insurance, property taxes, utilities and various state and city fees"


Chopin Theatre Raises $72,000 From Grateful Fans, Hopes To Reopen This Summer: ‘It Was Really Overwhelming

Hannah Alani , Block Club Chicago
Published 03/16/21

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"Independent venues and theaters across Chicago are struggling to survive, and one historical Wicker Park theater is asking neighbors for help staying afloat.

The owners of Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., launched a Giving Tuesday fundraiser. Donations will help the theater manage operational costs during the pandemic, co-owners Lela Dyrkacz and Zygmunt "Ziggy" Dyrkacz said in a video"


102-Year-Old Chopin Theatre Asks Public For Help Surviving Pandemic

Hannah Alani , Block Club Chicago
Published 12/1/20

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Now a hipster highway, Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago was known in the first decades of the 20th century as Dinner Pail Avenue... And in 1918, an upmarket 548 seat theater named the Chopin Theatre opened in the heart of Chicago's Polish downtown... This was a posher kind of movie theater from the older nickelodeons.. elegant, comfortable and with ornamentation on a par with what could be enjoyed downtown..

Monday night, its owners are throwing the neighborhood a public party to celebrate its 100th anniversary.


Chopin turns 100: Historic theater has ushered in hipsters but kept its Polish roots

Chris Jones , Chicago Tribune

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Built in 1918, the theater was revived in 1991. Its second show was directed by actor John Cusack, just one of hundreds of performers who've called Chopin home...Zygmunt and his wife Lela Headd Dyrkacz have energized the Polish Triangle through their Chopin Theatre. The iconic venue presents more than 500 events a year ranging from theater to jazz and classical music, literary events, films and social events.

100 Years In Wicker Park: The Chopin Theatre’s Revival Brought Elegance To Gritty Polish Triangle

Alisa Hauser , Block Club Chicago

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WGN TV's Dan Ponce reviews Wicker Park/Westtown with Chopin Theatre's Lela Headd Dyrkacz.

WGN TV - Dan Ponce Review of Wicker Park with Chopin Theatre

Dan Ponce , WGN TV

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Chopin Theatre is a "multidisciplinary arts center in the heart of Wicker Park". The group, celebrating its 100th anniversary, specializes in many art forms, including plays, concerts, art, and even escape room parties.

Chicago’s Chopin Theatre Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Worldview with Jerome McDonnell

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Dean helps celebrate 100 years of the Chopin Theater in Wicker Park and dives into the theater's storied history in the neighborhood and upcoming celebratory events.

Dean Richards’ Sunday Morning 10.14.18 | 100 Years of the Chopin Theater and..

Dean Richards , WGN Radio

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Zygmunt Dyrkacz and Lela Dyrkacz join Justin to discuss the history of the Chopin Theatre and the importance of the theater to the Wicker Park community.

How the Chopin Theatre helped revitalize Wicker Park

Justin Kaufmann , WGN Radio

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"Many thanks to the Chicago Tribune and Mary Wisniewski for bringing much-needed attention to the Polish Triangle, the long-neglected gateway to Wicker Park. As the naming disagreement has been resolved, the focus is now on the Polish Triangle's future aesthetics: how to symbolize 2 million Polish immigrants who have passed through it over the years and at the same time have an art masterpiece that boosts Wicker Park as a destination for theaters, galleries, restaurants and boutiques."


Letter to the Editor -

Zygmunt and Lela Dyrkacz , Chicago Tribune
Published 2/17/19

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Chicago's Venues That Matter the Most - Chopin Theatre

Chris Jones , Chicago Tribune

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In addition to playing host to Chicago's best itinerant companies, the Chopin's husband-and-wife proprietors Zygmunt Dyrkacz and Lela Headd go to great lengths to bring eastern European artists to their Wicker Park establishment.


Chicago is no longer American theatre's second city

Kris Vire , The Guardian

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"There’s a finite number of those small and midsize spaces where itinerant storefront companies can ply their wares. I spend an inordinate chunk of my life in the Chopin’s basement, , which housed four of my favorite productions this year:"


Space: The Final Frontier

Kris Vire , TimeOut Chicago

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Chopin Theatre chosen as 1 of 4 most successful for profit cultural institutions in Chicago

City of Chicago & Donors Forum Honor


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Chopin Theatre's international vision grows

Hedy Weiss , Chicago Sun Times

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".. Chopin owners Zygmunt Dyrkacz and Lela Headd have played host to some of the most thrilling theater the city's had to offer during the last 17 years"


Signs of Trouble - Can our Storefront theaters survive the Broadway Blitz?

Chris Piatt and Kris Vire , TimeOut Chicago
Published 09/27/07

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Inconvenient Truth about Art and Money - Zygmunt Dyrkacz and Lela Headd


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"For the past 15 years Zygmunt Dyrkacz has been presenting international experimental theatre at the scrappy Chopin Theatre, including performances by Poland's astonishing Teatr Cogitatur. Despite more than two decades of international acclaim, the troupe had never appeared in this country until Dyrkacz brought it here to present Aztec Hotel in 2003.


Mystery Achievement: Cogitatur & Chopin Theatre conspire to bring Polish avante garde to Chicago

Justin Hayford , Chicago Reader

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"Question: Where will you find both the trendiest European audiences and the most European-style theater in Chicago?   Answer: At the Chopin Theatre?

La Luna casts spell with light, sound and music

Hedy Weiss , Chicago Sun Times

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Foreign Affairs Minister Anna Fotyga presented diplomas of merit Sept. 26 in Warsaw to individuals and institutions that have contributed to creating a positive image of Poland Europe and the world.

The 10 recipients include academics, artists and media outlets.  The diplomas are granted annually.  

Unofficial "Ambassadors" Honored

Warsaw Voice
Published 10/4/06

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Chopin Theatre - One of the last old-school entertainment venues in Wicker Park, this theater houses some of Chicago's best storefront companies.

Critic's Pick - Best Venue

Editoral Staff , TimeOut Chicago

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"Location is everything. For years, Collaboraction's annual Sketchbook Festival was based out of Wicker Park, where it occupied the Chopin Theatre with a frisky, we're-artists-and-we-dare-you-to-be-bored spirit that made this short play series one of brightest spots on the calendar.


Sketchbook Festival More Reined in

Nina Metz , Chicago Tribune

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"From his office window Zygmunt Dyrkacz can see everything that happens at the Polish Triangle. It’s a bleak, brick-paved island at the intersection of Ashland, Division, and Milwaukee......Neighborhood groups say the Triangle belongs to Wicker Park, but the Triangle seems worlds away from the boutiques and bars a few blocks north and west. ..and Dyrkacz says that unless the Triangle gets a face-lift they never will"

Wicker Park's Dirty Doorstep - Part II

Tasneem Paghdiwala , Chicago Reader

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"But there I was last Saturday night, in the bustling lobby of the Chopin Theatre in Wicker Park -- a community asset of the first order -- trying to weasel my way into a sold-out Rossellini screening .."


Forum throws cinematic rarities to the lines

Michael Phillips , Chicago Tribune

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..But, for the most part, little is as important to Dyrkacz as being socially and politically informed and relevant. Chopin Theatre reflects this passion... Critics laud Chopin Theatre's productions, many of which are avant-garde, as visceral, challenging, experimental and impassioned.

Is Wicker Park Pushing out Chopin?

Anitra Rowe , Pioneer Local

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"Yet there was another reason the Chopin Theatre served Makowicz so well: With the grand piano placed center stage and the audience on all sides of him, Makowicz was performing not beneath a traditional proscenium nor in a rambunctious club but, rather, in a small theater-in-the-round. This intimate space evoked the salons in which another Polish master – Frederic Chopin – performed in an earlier era. For a solo piano recital, there is no better way to be heard"

A great Polish pianist comes back to Chicago

Howard Reich , Chicago Tribune

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"Owners Zygmunt Dyrkacz and Lela Headd have transformed this space, originally constructed in 1918 by M.F. Strunch Architects, into a rare and wonderful location. Chicago and its theater community are the fortunate recipients of this couple’s uniquely lovely vision. You see the evidence of it in every nook and cranny at the Chopin and you can feel the inviting warmth as soon as you step inside"

Eclectic Details @ The Chopin

Venus Zarris , Chicago Stage Review.com

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And small plucky venues such as the Chopin Theatre, run by Polish native Zygmunt Drykacz and his wife, Lela Headd, also bring in under-the-radar experimental groups from Europe, particularly with the theatre’s annual I-Fest, which focuses mostly on solo artists, many presenting work in their first language.

Chicago & The World Stage

Kerry Reid , Performink

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"In all of its values, Cromer’s subterranean Our Town, staged with mercurial precision in the Chopin basement, was the Chicago-est play of 2008"...

Town and Country: A Look Back at 2008

Christopher Piatt , TimeOut Chicago

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Zygmunt Dyrkacz and Lela Headd have created the only venue in town that makes me feel that Theater is a Big Deal - from the salon-like atmosphere of the multiple lobby areas, decorated and designed with the touch and eye of an artist to the simple non-commercial, vaguely European tastes at the small cafe-ish concessions bar, to the comfortable stuffed chairs arranged for comfort and observation - every time I go there I expect to see Brecht, Pinter, and Stoppard drinking Turkish coffee and exchanging war stories of productions past.


Theater Review - The Birthday Party

Don Hall , Angry White Guy in Chicago Blog

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The House is jazzed about performing at the Chopin, which the Tribune calls, "a community asset of the first order," because owners Zygmunt Dyrkacz (who saved the building from demolition in 1990) and Lela Headd have gone out of their to make the whole place feel like an old-school lounge"

House Theater - Our New Home

House Theater Blog

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Two presentations at Chopin Theatre win 2007 ORGIES (The Orgies are an anonymously-bestowed honor for outstanding original work in Chicago Theater).

Hey there, Orgie girl!

Christopher Piatt , TimeOut Chicago

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INDIA MATRI BHUMI . "Chicago Cinema Forum showed this at the Chopin Theatre a really indispensable place for theatrical and other artistic gatherings in this case showing film"

Mother Russia Mother India - Andrew Patner

Andrew Patner , WFMT FM

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"This year our Chicago appearance promises to be even more exciting: we joined efforts with Mr. Zygmunt Dyrkacz, the founder and director of the renowned Chopin Theater, which since 1990, has actively promoted independent and world cinema"

Chicago Hosts Breakthrough Polish Ukrainian Film Festival

Marta Farion , Ukrainian Weekly

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"Issues of identity, personal freedom and the role of the State, are but a few of the many issues Poles and Ukrainians grapple with today.  This weekend the Chopin Theatre here in Chicago will host a film festival with films that center around the Post-revolution lives of these Slavic peoples".



Post Revolution Blues - Jerome McDonnell

Jerome McDonnell , Chicago Public Radio

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The anti-communist Solidarity Movement in Poland inthe 1980s and the Ukrainian Orange Revolution in 2004 and 2005 propoelled the soviet block countries into Democratic states. But although the two countries emerged from communist control with hopes for a brighter future, their newfound independence in many cases exacerbated the problems of unemplyment, poverty, violence and corruption.  "Post Revolution Blues" a film and lecture series running this weekend at Chopin Theatre, will exploe the aftermath of independence in the two nations. 

Freedom, horrible freedom. Film fest explores the downside of

Timothy Inklebarger , Chicago Journal
Published 8/22/07

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Dear PerformInk:
Through my own ineptitude I’m sure, I somehow missed Kerry Reid’s article about Sketchbook. I did, however, read the letter to the editor in response to the article from the folks at the Chopin Theatre.

Kudos to Chopin - Joan Mazzonelli

Joan Mazzonelli

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The gritty theater regularly presents performances like the (Bill) Gates piece that aim to challenge the status quo and take an honest look at the human condition. It's a worldview that Dyrkacz incorporates into his daily life, as he struggles to keep his private theater running.

Chicago Journal - No rest for the living: Chopin Theatre

Timothy Inklebarger , Chicago Journal

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"Can you name the Chicago Theatre dedicated to Polish and Eastern European productions? In 1990, Polish emigre, Zygmunt Dyrkacz, opened his international playhouse in Wicker Park". (Check out our video)

NBC-TV: Chopin Theatre International Playhouse

Charlie Wojciechowski , NBC TV

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"Good Morning this is Around Town and I am Anna Belaval. Today we will show you what critics are calling 'theatrical magic; an amazing experience for the senses?. We're at Chopin Theatre for La Luna and Aztec Hotel "(Check out our video)

WGN TV - La Luna and Aztec Hotel at Chopin Theatre

Anna Belaval , WGN TV

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Who is making a difference in Chicago theater? Well, it's you of course.  CHicago theatre is built on very one fo the actors, directors, designers, playwrights, producers, stage managers, agents, casting directors, pr people, house managers - we could go on forever.  But inthe interest of brevity, PERFOMINK asked a few Chicago theater writers to give us a list of who they think stand out in terms of changing the face of Chicago theater.

Zygmunt Dyrkacz - "Chicago Shakespear gets a lot of (well deserved) praise for brinign in high-profile European troupes.  But those who wish to see the best of experimental European theater (especially Eastern European) know that Wicker Park's Chopin is the place to go"

People Making a Difference in Chicago Theatre

Kerry Reid
Published 12/23/05

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"The Witching Season is upon us. (Quick Somebody call Sarah Palin's miniter!) And so fittingly enough, there are many comings and goins, openings and closings to note in this time of transition" 

Tricks and Treats for Chicago Theatre

Kerry Reid , PerformInk
Published 10/24/08

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Critic's Choice with Andrew Patner - “Dyrkacz also brings important European avant-garde companies to his venue, something that happens too rarely here since the demise of the International Theatre Festival of Chicago “

Critic's Choice with Andrew Patner

Andrew Patner , WFMT FM

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“The Chopin Theatre, which has just completed a run of a play by the Romanian-born French playwright Matei Visniec, How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients, was founded 14 years ago by Polish émigré Zygmunt Dyrkacz. It has been these smaller entrepreneurial, risk-taking venues that have provided fertile ground for Playing French”

Playing French

Jeremy Grant , Financial Times

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Sometimes, under the radar, a troupe slips into town and you're lucky to catch them before they slip out again.

Teatr Cogitatur performs for first time in the U.S.

Michael Phillips , Chicago Tribune

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RESPECT Who Needs It! - "Different companies peel in and out of spaces like the Chopin - WNEP's super-intelligent Wise Blood, Plasticene's shadowy Come Like Shadows, Teatro Vista's magical realism history play Aurora's Motive - each remaking it how they see fit, tearing down the world and building it up again. - Ben Winters, PerformInk 12/22/00

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Who Needs It!

Ben Winters , PerformInk
Published 12/22/00

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“…but the impassioned and intelligent Dyrkacz is far from your typical theater owner"

Dyrkacz, not typical theater owner

Chris Jones , Chicago Tribune

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"Once again, the Chopin Theatre re-establishes itself as one of the truly authentic Off Loop theater venues of note"

Theater Review - Dr. Faustus

Don Hall

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"..So it is fitting that I-Fest is produced also by a couple of Polish/African American misfits. It also illustrates that international theater, in whatever simple and inexpensive way, can still be shown in our City"

I-Fest 2008

Arab American Media Services

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Chess fanatics take time for a quick game in the sun at last week's Do Division Festival. The chess tournament was sponsored by Chopin Theatre.

Check Mates

Tim Inklebarger , Chicago Journal

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There's plenty of unique decor in both the upstairs and downstairs theater of the Chopin, which is run by husband-and-wife team Zygmunt Dyrkacz and Lela Headd (both pictured).

A spoof on Urinetown - Chris Piatt and Novid Parsi

Chris Piatt and Novid Parsi , TimeOut Chicago

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- "Making his adaptable spaces available to many young Chicago theatre companies and presenting an astonishing 500 or so events a year (!), Dyrkacz also brings important European avant-garde companies to his venue, something that happens too rarely here since the demise of the International Theatre Festival of Chicago".

Zygmunt Dyrkacz of Chopin Theatre

Andrew Patner , WFMT 98.7FM

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"Wicker Park's beautiful white terra-cotta Chopin Theatre was built in 1918, and served as an anchor

Metromix.com - Wicker Park's Chopin Theatre


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The play's the thing!" says Hamlet, and at Chopin Theatre, it couldn't be truer. Hidden behind its Wicker Park storefront location, Chopin houses a main stage and a smaller studio, a cafe, ample dressing areas, a luxurious waiting lounge and a grand foyer. Though the entire building is masterfully decorated with Oriental rugs, antique furniture and photograph- and artwork-clad walls, there's no need to don your most respectably dull theater dress to attend a production here:

Centerstage.net - One theater and a bevy of shows

Anne Wilschuke , Centerstage.net

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“...Chopin hosts Algren Committee parties and he and McCarrell are "good friends." (The feeling is mutual. "Ziggy," says McCarrell, "is a fine young man, and very un-American in the sense he's not mainly interested in money."

Full Nelson

Jeff Huebne , Reader

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