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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

After Fire, Factory Theater In Rogers Park Raising Money To Keep Lights On And Shows Running

A fire started in The Factory Theater's heating and cooling system, causing $15,000 in damage.

The Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard St.
Courtesy The Factory Theater
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ROGERS PARK — A fire at The Factory Theater in Rogers Park caused the delay of its fall production and thousands of dollars in repair costs.

Now, the 30-year-old theater company is asking neighbors to contribute to a fundraiser to keep the theater in the neighborhood for years to come.

On Sept. 7, a fire broke out in a storage room of the 72-seat Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard St. The blaze was sparked by its heating and cooling system, Co-Artistic Director Timothy C. Amos said.

A person at the theater noticed the fire and was able to put it out before it spread past the storage closet. But the heating and cooling system was totaled, and it will cost about $15,000 to replace and to fix other damage, Amos said.

The nonprofit theater had already been struggling to recover from the pandemic, which devastated the live entertainment industry. The GoFundMe aims to raise $15,000 to help it recover from the fire.

“Right as we are getting our feet under us, a fire,” Amos said. “We still have rent to pay. We’re trying to recoup that loss as much as possible.”

The Factory Theater formed in 1992, using a space on Loyola’s Rogers Park campus. In 2004, the company moved into Prop Thtr’s Avondale space. It moved in 2015 to Howard Street, building out a stage and seating in the historical Howard Theater Building constructed in 1918 as a movie house.

The theater company has remained in the Howard Street space ever since, producing original works by local artists and providing theater space to companies and young playwrights.

Factory Theater returned to the stage last year following pandemic-caused closures. It was set to debut its new production, “The HOA,” the week after the fire hit, Amos said.

Due to the fire, a weekend of preview shows were canceled and the premier was delayed by eight days. That allowed Factory Theater to repair damages from the fire and reopen, but now the organization faces a cash crunch.

“It’s not just about us being able to survive,” Amos said. “We run the risk of losing that space, which we think is a benefit to the community at large but also to the theater community.”

To donate to the fundraiser, click here.

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