A pair of email messages have stirred up the tight community around the Chase Park Theater, 4701 N. Ashland Ave., as word that the theater’s director and drama instructor, Karen Fort, has suddenly left her position with the Park District.
The theater, housed on the second floor of the park’s field house, produced a steady diet of Shakespeare and other live theater favorites that included local neighbors and professional actors selected through a regular audition process.
Fort has declined to comment beyond the email she sent earlier this week (attached below), and Fearon-Peon was not available for comment today. Representatives of Friends of Chase Park have also not responded to requests for comment by publication.
From: Karen Fort
Date: Mon, Oct 3, 2011 at 2:31 PM
Subject: An Explanation
Dear Chase Park Theater families,
An explanation is owed to the bright children that I taught until last Thursday, when I resigned my position as Drama Instructor with the Chicago Park District. As much as I love the children, I have been driven to resign. In 2007 Chase Park Theater won the Award of Excellence for the best community theater in Illinois. After my long financial generosity to Chase Park Theater, “downtown” (Park District headquarters) told me to turn in my keys, and my integrity is offended by the mistrust. Time will tell what plans CPD has for the auditorium, though it seems likely that it will not remain a working theater. Full time employees (like I was) are fewer each year. After a year of disappointment watching how the theater program is an even lower priority than before with Park management, I can’t bear to watch programs that I have developed from the ground up, get torn down. So this is good wishes and goodbye.
I’m sure a good new teacher will be found and I would guess that the fall classes will continue. Hopefully your children will take it in stride. To a child, the simple explanation is “We are in tight times.”
I will be fine, so don’t worry about me. I look forward to doing more theater and perhaps meeting you again gathered around or on a stage. I fervently hope that your interest in theater studies will continue. Thank you for your enjoyable company, and for your support. Be well.
From: Fearon-Peon, Katherine
Date: Wed, Oct 5, 2011 at 3:38 PM
Subject: Chase Park Theater And the email from the park district.
This is Katie the supervisor from Chase Park. I want to assure you all that we have a sub for all of our theater classes and our program will proceed as scheduled. I personal have a vested interest in the Chase Park Theater and want nothing more than for in to succeed. Karen’s departure from the program was unfortunate but of her own accord; and in an effort to respect her privacy I will not be commenting any further on it.
I hope to see you all back at classes this week and look forward an fabulous fall session!
If you have any questions feel free to email me.