An interview with Peter Greenberg

At the heart of every show you see at Lifeline Theatre is the work of our dedicated artistic ensemble. These 27 Chicago artists are continuously proposing new titles for production, hosting script readings, providing feedback on projects in development, commissioning music, meeting with designers, attending rehearsals, and slating projects for future seasons of award-winning shows. 

To continue our work throughout the 2013-14 season, we’ve launched our Page To Stage Campaign to raise $25,000 by February 28th. As part of this campaign, Alex Kyger, Lifeline’s Development Director, interviewed two of our ensemble members. Today, Alex presents an interview with Peter Greenberg.


Q: How did you first get involved with Lifeline?

A: My very first experience with Lifeline was coming to see a show, actually. I was new to Chicago and a friend of mine invited me to see Pinocchio at Lifeline. And not long before I saw that show, I had seen another show with a group of women doing monologues called “Sweating Under my Breasts.” Well, when I came to see the show at Lifeline, a couple of the people from that show were in the front row. One of them was Dorothy, who was an ensemble member not artistic director, at that time. And I thought the show was great, the theatre space was cool, and the neighborhood was really funky. So Dorothy and I became friends and a few years after I had seen Pinocchio, Dorothy called me and said that she was directing a show, The Talisman Ring, and she asked me to play a role. She had never seen me perform before, but she thought I would be a great fit for that part. And that’s how I got cast in my first Lifeline show.

Q: How did you become an ensemble member at Lifeline?

A: I acted in a few more shows and I started to know more of the people involved with the theatre. And I believe it was Dorothy who talked me about the possibility of joining the ensemble. I was excited by the opportunity. I had helped run a theatre company before and I was missing the feeling of being part of a company instead of simply working from show to show.

Q: What do you wish other people knew about Lifeline?

A: Our KidSeries is unlike any other children’s theatre that I know of in the city. The artists that we have working on those shows always impress me with their commitment to the work. And I think the shows are phenomenal.

Also, I think people would be surprised by the variety of stories we tell. We receive a lot of attention when we do our long-dress shows with lots of British accents; but we have always been committed to contemporary and sci-fi works as well. From Sirens of Titan to Neverwhere to The City & The City last year.

Q: Do you have a favorite Lifeline memory that you would like to share?

A: There is one story that I’ll never forget. It was 7 or 8 years ago when we did Gaudy Night. And we did a special semi-staged performance of the play out at Wheaton College because they were hosting an annual Dorothy L. Sayers conference – which only happens every 5 years or so. And everyone in that audience loved that book. These were people, much like our audience, who have a long history of reading the author

After the performance, I was getting undressed in a classroom because were performing at this school. And the president of the Sayers society was this sweet British guy. And I’m standing in this room in my boxer shorts because I’m getting out of my costumes and he just started rushing toward me with his arms wide open. And loosening his tie. And I remember thinking “well, this is a strange situation.”

And he came up to me and I don’t remember the exact words he said, but he told me how much he loved the show and how much he appreciated the work we had done. And on his tie was the Wimsey crest for the Wimsey family in Gaudy Night. And he gave me his tie.

And that kind of appreciation for the book happens over and over again with our audiences. When we did Jane Eyre, there were people who came up to us afterwards who were seriously affected by the show. The great thing about doing adaptations is that so many people already know and have loved these characters, often, for decades. And at the same time, we introduce people to these stories for the first time. We have the most amazing audience you can imagine. And being able to interact with our audience – it’s why we love to make theatre.