All photography provided by The Janus Theatre


Janus Theatre was formed in 1998 and began producing theatre in the winter of 1999. The company is based out of Elgin. The company has produced more than 60 productions, featuring classic and contemporary works. The company is versatile, having performed in cafes, exhibition halls, storefronts, lofts and theaters. The company has traveled locally, across the country, and internationally to present its work. In addition, a founding principal of the company has been the ongoing education of artists and audiences.


The early period from 1999 – 2001 focused on revivals from the off-off Broadway movement from the 1960’s. Later, the company grew more eclectic offering rare classical plays from Marivaux to Feydeau along with newer work from David Sedaris and Eve Ensler. Due to the lack of a permanent home, the plays changed to fit the available space. During the middle period from 2002-2006, the company performed four seasons in Chicago at the Athenaeum Theatre and Stage Left Theatre. The company was also invited to perform at the London Fringe Theatre Festival in the summer of 2004, where it won the Impresario Award for most popular show. In addition, the company also split time between Elgin and Chicago, mounting new productions in Elgin and then transferring the shows to Chicago. In recent years, Janus Theatre presented a walkabout version of Oedipus Rex, a hyper intimate production of Miss Julie, and an all-female presentation of Romeo & Juliet. The company produced the first Elgin Short Play Festival, featuring the work of Theresa Rebeck, a commemorative production of The Guys by Ann Nelson; featuring an art installation by renowned artist George Kokines, entitled “September 11”. The company also presented its second classical repertory series to critical and public acclaim, featuring the works of Jane Austen, William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. In recent years, Elgin Summer Shakes has expanded to include student performances and acting workshops. Janus also was also a lead sponsor and organizer for the Elgin Fringe Festival and provides acting and Shakespeare workshops in the U-46 School District.


Janus Theatre was named Best New Theatre Group in 1999 and received Best Play Production honors in 2001 by the Pioneer Press. The company was selected as one of the Top Ten Most Interesting Places To See Theatre in 2000 by the Daily Herald. The company has received critical attention and praise from the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, Time Out Chicago, Daily Herald, Elgin’s Courier News and the Pioneer Press. In 2010, Janus Theatre won Best In Show for its performance in Walkabout: Theater On Your Feet, and in 2014, shared honors as a recipient of the Elgin Image Award for the Elgin Fringe Festival.


The core company is based out of Elgin and continues to work at the Elgin Art Showcase and Side Street Studio Arts. The company is committed to producing work in Elgin’s downtown area, helping to revitalize the surrounding area through theater. The company’s focus in the past has been eclectic, funky and edgy presentations. In recent years, the company has brought back the classics in modern productions, as well as newer plays with classic themes. We will continue to expand on this mission by bringing theater to more people in unique spaces as we develop the skills and talents of local artists while continuing to support and partner with local businesses.

Janus is about developing people. Since we started, we’ve always been interested in helping our artists grow while sharing the gift of performance with our audiences.
— Terry Domschke, Artistic Director Emeritus