Mathie

Armory building plays yet another historic role

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The military returns once again to the old Armory Park Building on Chicago's North Side in a play about the Scottish regiment ''Black Watch.''

The old Broadway Armory Park Building at Broadway and Thorndale is full of history -- and getting ready to write another chapter with Tuesday's opening of a play called "Black Watch" produced by the National Theatre of Scotland. It is just one more highlight in this building's 95-year history that goes back to before World War I.

"Oh, the history is incredible. It was built in 1916 as an indoor ice skating rink. In the twenties the military took it over and in 1979 the Park District took it over to make it a recreational facility," Nick Bojko, Broadway Park Armory supervisor.

The Armory building, 5917 N. Broadway, was a roller and ice skating rink before the National Guard moved in. And until Sunday, the military is back through a play called "Black Watch," which is named after Scotland's most famous regiment. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater is producing the show, but the company's Navy Pier stage is too small for the show so they built a 700-seat theater inside the Old Armory.

"We want the audience to feel they are in the middle of the experience of what happened to the Black Watch soldiers," Neil Murray, executive producer, National Theatre of Scotland, said.

The Black Watch goes back to the 1700s and has fought in every major war since. But the show isn't about an ancient battle, it's about Iraq. The Black Watch lost three soldiers in Iraq, which some say led to the disbanding of the regiment.

"It's such an important part of Scottish life as far as history. Although it was only eight years ago that the story happened it's more than history what we're performing every night. I think it's important that the whole world has to see it," Scott Fletcher, actor, said.

The play runs through April 10. Producers stress the show is strictly for adults and is recommended for audiences over the age of 13 . For play and ticket information, visit ChicagoShakes.com

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