We were so thrilled to welcome a nearly full house — about 200 people — to the Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theatre last night for a wide-ranging conversation between journalist/playwright John Conroy and the Chicago Tribune and WGN Radio’s Rick Kogan, about John’s life, career and the genesis of his first play My Kind of Town.
Rick led John through recollections of his early life and career; the path that led him to journalism and specifically investigative journalism; his work at the Chicago Reader; the moment when he first became aware of the possibility of torture by Chicago police and the in-depth reporting of that story for more than 20 years; and what sparked his decision to write a play on the topic, its development through Steppenwolf Theatre’s First Look Reportory of New Work and two years of work leading to the May 10, 2012 world premiere at TimeLine Theatre.
For those who were unable to attend the event, you can listen to the entire conversation right here! Below are several audio clips from the night, broken into sections.
If you were there or if you listen online, we’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments section below …
First up, Artistic Director PJ Powers welcomes the audience, briefly reflects on TimeLine’s experience with John, and introduces our distinguished guests (length 2:45):
Rick starts at the beginning (“Where were you born?”) and we hear about John’s early life, schooling and what led him to journalism as a career (8:54):
John discovers an interest and aptitude in investigative journalism, travels to Belfast, writes his first book and starts work at the Chicago Reader (13:45):
Exploring the idea of a second book leads John to the trial of Andrew Wilson and his first exposure to allegations of torture by Chicago police — a story he will cover in extraordinary depth and almost exclusively for the next 20+ years (22:39):
Five years ago, a film/theatre producer suggests that John should turn his reporting into a play and he begins a creative journey that leads to TimeLine Theatre and the May 2012 world premiere of My Kind of Town (23:01):
Our last excerpt is from the audience Q &A. The first question got cut off in the audio; it is about a late-in-the-process decision to include the penultimate scene in the play, a scene that brings a dramatic twist to the story (12:05):
Our thanks to John Conroy, Rick Kogan, and everyone at the Chicago Cultural Center for their help and participation putting together this wonderful event!