Kathleen Thompson's Plays
Kathleen Thompson became involved in the theatre in 1977, when she was assistant director to Mike
Nussbaum for the Chicago production of Wendy Wasserstein’s Uncommon Women at the
St. Nicholas Theater, founded by David Mamet and William H. Macy. Three years later, she founded The Commons Theatre with actors Michael Nowak and Judith Easton. For several years of that theatre’s existence, she was artistic director, one of the first women
and one of the first playwrights to serve in that capacity in a Chicago theatre. The mission of the theater was to present original, new and subversively feminist works. An early publicity piece stated, "Chicago theatre is justly famous for what has been termed "kitchen sink drama." For more than ten years, theatre goers have been exposed to one after another of these highly naturalistic plays about boorish fathers, whining mothers, sniveling daughters and loutish sons. Well, the kitchen sink has its place. It may even have a place in the theatre. But not in our theatre."
"Chicago theater lovers can always count on the Commons Theater to present new and different productions."
The Commons produced a number of Thompson's plays, including the critical and popular
triumph Caught in the Act, a feminist musical comedy about jewel theives and chorus girls, written with Jan Gleiter, Andra Medea, and composer Barbara Barrow. The show was co-produced by Gleiter.
"I guess the best thing to call Caught in the Act, for lack of a better phrase, is an old-fashioned, contemporary feminist backstage musical comedy fantasy melodrama. And that's not the half of it. . . . a zany streak of entertainment . . . constantly amazing show."
Richard Christiansen, The Chicago Tribune
The long-running comedy hit A Two Story House struck a comedy/drama chord with everyone who ever tried to communicate with a mate. Thompson also coauthored
the highly successful film noir homage Dashiell Hamlet: The Classic Mystery, with Mike Nussbaum, Mike Nowak, and Paul H. Thompson.
Thompson's Commons Theatre plays have also been produced in New York and elsewhere. After leaving The Commons, Thompson wrote Politics and Old Lace for Artistic Circles and had plays produced by Chicago New Plays and others. Thompson and Nowak also taught playwriting at Chicago Dramatists Workshop for ten years.