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East entry to Ford Center for the Fine Arts.

Theatre Department Mainstage Recreates the Caffe Cino

Caffe Cino ensemble members rehearse "Who Killed My Bald Sister Sophie?"

Update: All of the available tickets have been reserved for The Caffe Cino Project. The Knox College Theatre Department is offering a very limited number of "house seats" each night, as well as any reservations that go unclaimed. For information, contact the Theatre Department at 309 341 7472.

The Knox College Department of Theatre's fall main-stage production will pay homage to an important part of theatre history, the genesis of off-off-Broadway. Directed by Jeff Grace, assistant professor of theatre, the production will consist of four one-act plays that originally premiered at the Caffe Cino.

The historical Caffe Cino was a storefront cafe that doubled as a theatre in New York during the 1960s. The cafe/theatre helped to launch many famous playwrights' careers, including Sam Shepard and Lanford Wilson. The performances hosted by the Caffe Cino were mainly one act plays, presented on an eight-by-eight foot stage with very little set decoration.

Grace, whose dissertation explored the presence of homosexual characters in the plays hosted by the Caffe Cino, has embarked on a significant project: recreating the Caffe Cino.

"In short, my research explores the work being done by emerging playwrights at the Caffe Cino," says Grace. "I am bringing this research to our students this fall. The exciting part is that with the help of some of the surviving playwrights, as well as archival research and detailed design analysis, Craig Choma will be recreating the actual cafe to scale inside of Studio Theatre."

Choma '93, associate professor of theatre, has experience with forensic design, or the process of recreating a historical place. He has now constructed an 18-by-40-foot replica of the original Caffe Cino, complete with a storefront, a roof, and four walls. Studio Theatre will become a functional cafe, opening an hour before the performance begins to serve coffee and pastries.

Though many of the plays from this historical theatre have since been produced elsewhere, this is the first time any theatre has sought to recreate the experience and the space of the Caffe Cino. Within Choma's replica, four one act plays that were originally staged at the Caffe Cino will perform in repertory for two weeks. (Above, Sam Auch '15, Lee Foxall '17, and Kathleen Gullion '15 rehearse a scene from "Who Killed My Bald Sister Sophie?")

"Additionally, in the collaborative spirit of off-off-Broadway, we plan to keep the new Cino open for a third week of performances," says Grace. "Now that we've recreated the space, let's use the the same setting for us to be able to do new works."

One of these new works will be balance of flesh and air, a new play written by Cristian Gorostieta '15 and directed by Niki Acton '16. Additionally, the recreated Caffe Cino will host a production by students from Monmouth College.

Because the Caffe Cino can only seat 60 people, the show is expected to sell out quickly and seating is only available by reservation.


  • $10 for Adults / $5 for Senior Citizens & Alumni / Free to all Knox students, faculty, and staff
  • Seating is limited; reservations are strongly encouraged
  • To reserve a seat, please visit


Performing on October 29, 31, and November 6, 8

  • A Funny Walk Home by Jeff Weiss
  • The Bed by Robert Heide

Performing on October 30 and November 1, 5, 7

  • Who Killed My Bald Sister Sophie? by Tom Eyen
  • Daddy Violet by George Birimisa


Sam Auch '15
John Bird '15
Moriah Chermak '17
Lee Foxall '17
Kathleen Gullion '15
Holden Meier '16
Natalie Polechonski '16
Andrew Purvis '15
Padraig Sullivan '17
Ian Tully '17
Tristan Yi '17


Jeff Grace (Director)
Amalia Hertel '17 (Assistant Director)
Emily Ioppolo '15 (Stage Manager)
Anna Karwoska '14 (Associate Stage Manager)
Taylor Schulze '18 (Assistant Stage Manager)
Emma Lipson '18 (Assistant Stage Manager)
Craig Choma '93 (Scene Designer, Lighting Designer, Technical Director)
Miranda Loeber '14 (Costume Designer)
Margo Shively (Costume Consultant)
Joel Schleicher '18 (Sound)
Jessica Chrzan '17 (Properties)
Julia Porter '17 (Properties)
Emma Lister '17 (Publicity, Scenic Artist)

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Caffe Cino poster

#"No one has ever undertaken an actual recreation of the Cino." -- Jeff Grace

Knox College

Printed on Saturday, May 18, 2024