4802 exists to nurture the creation of vital works of theater which pioneer what is possible in a storefront space.

“Working with The Gift was like coming home to a place I’d never even been before. From a personal perspective, it was immediately comfortable - and as an artist, it was immediately fulfilling.”—Marco Ramirez

Chicago is renowned for its storefront theaters. Spaces like The Gift’s 40-seat home at 4802 N. Milwaukee offer the unique opportunity to experience world-class theater in a hyper-intimate setting. But by virtue of economics, small spaces can often encourage small budgets and aesthetics; plays with conservatively-sized casts, unit sets, a fourth wall, plays that are scripted by a single playwright and developed with music stands, plays that are rarely multi-disciplinary and frequently grounded in realism.

Yet at The Gift, some of our greatest artistic successes have been projects that completely defied rational storefront logic in terms of size, scope, cost, and ambition. Our recent production of Grapes of Wrath, the recent world premieres of David Rabe’s Good for Otto, Ensemble Member Laura Marks’s Mine, Mat Smart’s Royal Society of Antarctica, Melissa Ross’ Thinner Than Water as well as ensemble member Will Eno’s Oh, the Humanity (and other exclamations) Marco Ramirez’s Broadsword, Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio, Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9 and Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Last Days of Judas Iscariot have all inspired us to playfully perturb preconceptions of what’s possible in a storefront.

We want to pioneer the boundaries of storefront theater even further.

We have examined how to do this in a true and permanent way, one which is organic to the core values of The Gift of LOVE, ENSEMBLE, and A PIONEERING SPIRIT in order to tell great stories with radical honesty and brave simplicity; stories which truly reflect our world.

4802 has been conceived, funded, and wet-wired into our DNA in order to perpetually collaborate with new voices and celebrate the storefront as a distinctly Chicago destination for some of the most daring works of Theatre in the country. 


will nurture Theatre which celebrates the strengths
of a storefront but pioneers its boundaries.

will nurture Theatre which makes both The Gift and our Chicago storefront theatre scene a national destination for vital new American plays.

Okay, So What’s The Program?

In 4802, artists/artistic teams will be given residencies in The Gift Theatre’s 40-seat storefront space.

The nature of the residencies will be determined by the needs of the project and dictated by the artists themselves. If you want to devise the piece in a company of artists, fantastic. Movement workshops, invited rehearsals, pop-up productions/deconstructions, table reads and any approach that serves the development of your piece are all fair game. Think of our theater as your laboratory where you can experiment, explore, and broaden the boundaries of your work. 

What Is The Gift Looking For?

We’re looking for projects which both celebrate and pioneer the storefront. This could mean any of the following:
• Projects that feel “impossible”. Maybe they’re impossibly ambitious or impossibly intimate. If we
    pick up a script or proposal and say “I have no idea how they’re going to pull that off”—that’s the spirit of 4802.
• Multi-disciplinary projects/projects that engage multiple forms of theater (dance, music,
    performance art, devised theatre, etc.)
• Unconventional storytelling and/or staging.
• Projects that interrogate the artist/audience relationship.
• Plays with unique casting demands.
• Devised work, design-driven work, work that interrogates how a play can be made.
• Any element which actively interrogates mainstream assumptions on what a storefront play
    ought to look like and how it should be developed and produced.

We’re specifically interested in theater pieces that take advantage of our theater space and our ensemble. Why is our 40-seat storefront an ideal space for your piece? How will your piece ask us to reimagine how our theater can be used? And how will you draw from our ensemble of actors, directors, playwrights and designers?

The Application:
The 2019 Residency Application process will open soon. There will be at least one guaranteed residency available, though it is our plan to create multiple residencies in future seasons. This year’s project(s) will be selected through an application process that is open to all Chicago-based* theater artists. (*We define ‘Chicago-based’ as “living within a 50-mile radius of 4802 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL.”)

So How Do I apply?
An application is attached to the end of this document. . If your project is selected as a finalist, members of the Gift ensemble will request additional documents and set up a conversation with you.

Do I Need To Be A Playwright To Apply?
Nope. 4802 is open to any theater artist who wishes to make and develop work in our space and in the company of our ensemble. Projects may be new works created by writers, ensembles, directors, choreographers, or any other means of devising work.

Does My Project Need To Be Finished— e.g. Do I Need To Have A Complete Draft Of A Play?
Nope. Projects may be at any stage of development—though you should be able to articulate why the 1-3 week residency is well-suited for your project. Plays that have been previously produced are eligible, though you should articulate why the play is ripe for re-exploration and development.

Can I Apply As A Team, And What If A Member Of My Team Lives Outside Chicago? 
Absolutely you can apply as a team, but the artistic team should be principally Chicago-based. Please note that travel and housing would come directly out of your budget.

What If I Don’t Know Exactly How I Want To Use The Residency?
Consider your proposal a rough draft. We appreciate that you may not have a perfect plan for your residency or even know exactly what your theater piece needs. We’re here to support you as you develop. But all too often, new play development programs impose a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all structure on the artist: a specific budget, a specific timeline, an expectation of a show-and-tell reading, etc. 4802 is shaped by the needs of the projects.

Is There An Application Fee And Does The Gift Claim Any Rights To My Project?
No and no. While projects developed at 4802 will naturally be considered for production at The Gift, we want to alleviate the pressures of “auditioning” for a production slot. We want to support the development of your piece with no strings attached and no rights/option on your piece.

Please send your completed application, questions and comments to 4802@thegifttheatre.org.

“The Gift’s storefront theater is minimal only in square footage. In my experience doing GOOD FOR OTTO there, I experienced the heart, talent and commitment of the ensemble that give it a heroic theatrical size.”—David Rabe