Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, July 19

Gapers Block

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Beata Pilch is the artistic director and founding member of The Trap Door Theatre. She holds a BFA from U.S. International University and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. She has produced touring companies for European theatre festivals since 1990 and is a freelance casting director for independent film companies in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. She has produced, acted or directed in over 60 shows at the Trap Door Theatre.

To help support their upcoming Romanian tour of the shows Old Clown Wanted and The Crazy Locomotive, Trap Door is hosting a benefit at 8pm on April 25, at Phyllis's Musical Inn, 1800 W. Division St. Cover is $7.

Trap Door's current (Jeff-recommended) production is The Swan by Elizabeth Egloff. Directed by Trap Door ensemble member John Kahara and Jen Ellison, it runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 8pm until May 5. Upcoming productions include Eva Peron by Copi, directed by visiting director Pascal Coulan; The Holy Mothers by Werner Schwab, directed by Steppenwolf Ensemble Member Tracy Letts; and Emma by Howard Zinn, directed by Kate Hendrickson. Please visit the theatre's website at

Q: Besides the individual cultural experiences that will certainly widen the actors' and actress' perspectives, what can a theatre company as a whole gain from traveling a foreign land?

Pilch: Self-education and experience, first and foremost. We are known as the "European Theatre Company," and I don't think that I would have been able to direct the shows we've worked on — to understand the work and the language and then to translate these to an American audience — if I had not seen for my own eyes some of these lands from which the playwrights come from. Wherever you go in America it seems the same plays are being done all over the country, and I think any actor would want to add to their palate by observing life in other places. And of course there are the nice realities of global exposure, cross-cultural promotion, meeting artists from all over the world and sharing ideas, learning different styles and performance values and work ethics, etc. It's always fascinating to meet artists from Europe and tell them that we as actors and directors in America do not get paid for the work that we do, even on small scales — they have a hard time believing or understanding that.

Q: Trap Door is essentially European in its sensibility. How much do you anticipate stimulating foreign audiences?

Pilch: Well, we are European in our sensibility, but I think that I am taking the best of both worlds, which is what makes us so unique. I'm taking my American education and acting style and my European observations and styles and putting the two together, which makes for an even stronger, more unique and profound type of expression. Also, European audiences will be stimulated and will appreciate what we're doing so much more because they aren't so doped up on genetically manufactured food, so at least they'll be able to pay attention and sit through the whole thing!

Q: How important will it be to approach the upcoming endeavor abroad as a cultural representative of Chicago?

Pilch: Well, let's face it, people in the rest of the world don't know much about Chicago Theatre, and us being there will be a great way for them to learn more about how important of a city Chicago is when it comes to theatre. Essentially, all they know about America comes from Hollywood films. Nobody's ever heard of the Steppenwolf, which is one of the biggest theatres in the United States. I have never met a European who has ever heard of the Steppenwolf.

So, how important is it to be a representative of Chicago? Very. Words cannot even describe. I think Chicago has some of the best theatre in the United States, some of the most innovative work is being done here that's not so commercial like it is in LA and New York, and no one in Europe's ever heard of it. The only thing Europeans know about Chicago ... is Al Capone. I think we're going to be opening up their minds by letting them know that there are innovative, passionate and educated artists coming from Chicago, and who are interested in cross-cultural promotion. And it's going to be fantastic.

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About the Author(s)

John Hospodka is a life-long Chicagoan, and today lives with his wife in Bridgeport. He does not profess to be an expert in anything; he's just a big fan of the arts and is eager to make more sense of them. Direct comments or suggestions for interviews to

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