Text of article from The Daily Herald newspaper
April 18, 2008
By Jack Helbig | Contributing writer
When you ask Rich Geiger, artistic director of Vex Theater, when he began
working in theater, the co-founder of Palatine's newest (and only) non-Equity
theater company will answer he has been "around the fringes of theater" his
His older brother, Kevin Geiger, was a prominent lighting designer in the
off-Loop theater scene in the 1990s.
"I used to help him a lot," Geiger says, "He worked at Famous Door, Mary-Arrchie
Theater Company. We did some Chicago Park District stuff. Then he became
facilities manager at Harper College and I would help him set up there."
Geiger's brother died in 2001, but Geiger's interest in theater remained. But by
then the native Chicagoan had moved out to Palatine "with the little woman."
Eager to continue working in theater he looked around to find one where he could
ply his trade.
"There are a lot of amateur theaters out here," Geiger said, "but they tend to
do more musicals. Or they tend to do popular comedies. Not many of them do have
Chicago-style theaters. Not many have small, intimate theaters. And not a lot of
them do the kind of intimate theater, personal theater, we used to do at the
Mary-Arrchie or Famous Door."
So Geiger decided to form a little theater group, Chicago style, along with
Cathleen Ann and Michael Rios. They called it Vex Theatre because they liked the
"Also we joked a lot about it being a combination of violence and sex," Geiger
said. "But really we like theater that makes you think, that vexes you a little.
We like theater that makes you go out after and discuss it with other people. A
good night of theater would be a vexation.
They incorporated in 2004.
"Our first production was Wallace Shawn's 'The Designated Mourner,' he said.
They followed up that with two plays by David Mamet, "American Buffalo" and "The
"Our biggest challenge is finding a space to do our work," Geiger said.
"Designated Mourner" was performed at the late, lamented Crossroads Theater in
Naperville. The two Mamet plays were staged at Cutting Hall in Palatine.
Vex Theatre's current production, Oscar Wilde's comedy of manners, "Lady
Windemere's Fan," directed by Geiger, opens tonight at the Elgin Art Showcase.
"It's a beautiful space," Geiger said. "It's a great size -- I think you can fit
about a hundred seats in there tops --that kind of space just doesn't exist out
Geiger, Ann and Rios founded Vex to do works by playwrights considered too
difficult or unpopular for community theaters: Mamet, Samuel Beckett, Harold
Pinter. The witty, entertaining Wilde is something of a departure from these
more serious writers.
"But it is a very good play," Geiger said. "It is vibrant and witty. Full of
clever little sayings people throw back and forth. There is a lot of meat there
behind the bon mots. Wilde has a very interesting take on morality, and how we
view other people."
"Lady Windermere's Fan"
When: tonight through April 27.
Where: Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division St., eighth floor, Elgin
Tickets: at the door or visit vextheatre.org/windermere.html