“Truth comes in strange clothing,” says Dr. Chad Eric Bergman, professor of theatre and mentor to the North Park Theatre Company students. North Park’s theatre program works to make space for students to explore truth from many perspectives and in many voices. “I love the fact that North Park is an institution that’s founded on Christ-like principles, but welcomes all faiths (or no-faith) to the classroom. That kind of dialogue is really important to me,” he says.
Chad Eric has been at the helm of North Park’s theatre program since 2002, and has also maintained his own professional career in Chicago’s theatre world as the co-founder and Producing Artistic Director for Akvavit Theatre. This is the best formula he could imagine: “I have the awesome and humbling responsibility to train the next generation of theatre makers at the same time that I get to make theatre in Chicago,” he says.
He has chosen to develop a theatre curriculum around Chicago’s storefront theatre model, focusing on shows that can be produced with little money and relatively small casts and crews, but that give his students the full experience of producing and performing. In this model, they get to “make magic with very little resources.” Chad Eric strongly believes this is what helps to foster imagination and creativity in a way that is crucial to theatre, as well as to teach critical skills for all positions in a theatre company. Students are really putting into practice what they’re learning, he said.
Describing the theatre community at North Park as “family” is something Chad Eric is prone to do. “We need everyone to make our shows possible,” he writes in the theatre students’ handbook. “The challenges and joys that accompany storefront theatre provide the perfect foundation for a tight-knit community,” he says, “and that is exactly what you can expect from North Park Theatre.”
Chad Eric’s professional career has taken him all over Chicago’s storefront theatre scene, working with Chicago Dramatists, Live Bait, MPAACT, parker, Plasticene, Stage Left, and Xunesis. He has been an artist in residence at the Ragdale Foundation and the University of Chicago’s Summer, Inc. He spent a year abroad on a Fulbright award researching bilingual theatre (he is fluent in Swedish), and received a prestigious grant from the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond to translate and produce Nordic plays in Chicago with Akvavit Theatre.
Chad Eric Bergman. “A Performativity of Nordic Space: The Tension Between Ritual and Sincerity Re-embodied Through Each Performance of Sweden’s Allsång på Skansen.” Ethnologia Europaea—Journal of European Ethnology vol 40, #2 (2010)
Chad Eric Bergman. “We do storefront theatre: Using Chicago’s Storefront Theatre Model as the Foundation for a Theatre Curriculum.” Theatre Topics vol 20, #1 (March 2010)
Akvavit Theatre at the Den Theatre
Hand in Hand: US premiere translation
Acting because students tell me that it is so much more than Acting, it is about life and how to live a life truthfully and in the moment with purpose.