STREETERVILLE — Opinions are divided on whether Cap Streeter, the founder of Streeterville, was a visionary or a thief. Whatever the result of such dialog, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents wants to bring the conversation to the neighborhood.
John Ward, the event's chairman, first saw "Streeterville: The Play" about five years ago, "and I said, 'This is fantastic. This needs to be done in Streeterville,'" he said.
The play's 2001 Jeff Award-winning script details the life of Capt. George "Cap" Wellington Streeter, who ran a ship aground near the intersection of Fairbanks Court and Superior Street in 1886 and quickly claimed and developed the surrounding land.
Last year, the outdoor theater concept group Theatre-Hikes performed "Streeterville: The Play" in Pullman in the company's signature style: Plays are performed outdoors, with minimal props and costuming, and the audience travels from scene to scene on foot along a naturalistic pathway.
When Ward heard that the play had been resurrected, he reached out immediately to Theatre-Hikes Artistic Director Bradley Baker, who also directs the show, about staging a production on Cap's home turf. Baker jumped at the chance.
"I cannot wait to see it happen in places where these events took place," said Baker, a self-proclaimed history fanatic. "I think it will have a stronger impact on the audience and the actors."
Baker said the show focuses on Streeter's life and relationships, but it's hard to separate the man from the myth, and the surrounding controversy.
"The cast works very hard to make those characters realistic and three-dimensional, to not let [Streeter] be seen as just some evil guy to pin all of the bad things on," Baker said.
The show includes "language indicative of the time, and this class of person," Baker said, but strives to frame Streeter, once imprisoned for murder and fraud, as objectively as possible.
"I do acknowledge that some people may see someone that they identify with, and not like the choices that person makes. So I want to show people that these characters or these people had reasons for doing what they did."
Rehearsals haven't begun yet, but two performances are scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sept. 22 and 28 at Gateway Park South, just west of Navy Pier.
The Streeterville residents group worked with Shoreline Cruises to sponsor the show and host a reception at Navy Pier, where Ward hopes audience and community members will mingle and discuss Streeterville's past and present.
"I think very few people know the neighborhood's back story, which is kind of part of the fun of all this," Ward said. "We thought it would be fun, and a nice way to build community identity, community enjoyment, a sense of community within Streeterville ... Bringing residents together is a mission of SOAR, and this idea seemed to be aligned with that."
Visit SOAR's website for more reservation information.