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How we got here. 

The original Subtext Studio was founded by Artistic Director Omar Vicente Fernandez with other UIC students in 2021 to provide opportunities to young emerging artists so that they may gain valuable professional experience by producing theater. Fernandez, a Mexican American artist, had been active in professional theater since his teens, working with 16th Street Theater (Berwyn, IL) in various capacities for nearly a decade, most recently as a staff member in 2022. 


After 16th Street Theater closed in December of 2022, Omar joined forces with Jean Gottlieb (Interim Artistic Director of 16th Street Theater NFP), bringing Jean into Subtext Studio Theatre as Managing Director and combining the missions of 16th Street Theater and Subtext Studio Theatre Company. 


Jean Gottlieb brings more than thirty years of experience in Chicago Theater to Subtext Studio Theatre Company. Jean has been Artistic Director of Footsteps Theatre in Chicago, New World Repertory Theater in Downers Grove, Dragonfly Theatre Company and The 16th Street Theater NFP. 


Omar and Jean merged the identities of Dragonfly Theatre, The 16th Street Theater NFP and Subtext Studio Theatre Company to create an artistic home for both emerging and seasoned artists and designers.


“The theater world is in the midst of a political and ideological reckoning, and the opportunity to reform the landscape of American Theater is upon us. Subtext Studios believes the newest generation of artists can lead the way, if given the opportunity.”  Omar Vicente Fernandez


Subtext Studio Theater Company endeavors to create a sacred space for the creation of new theatrical works, providing a safe home to the artists and following a production model that honors and promotes equity, diversity and inclusion on all levels.  


“We combined the best parts of the three companies: the inclusiveness and ambition of Subtext Studio, the experience and stability of 16th Street Theater, and the virtual capacity of Dragonfly Theatre. Survival of theater requires the merging of resources, and we look forward to forming mutually beneficial associations with neighboring theaters.”  Jean Gottlieb


“Subtext Studio will provide an open atmosphere for creation and expression, a space where an artist is free to learn and grow - blossoming as the play blossoms - through hard work and devotion to the art form. Every great piece of art is brought to life by people who recognize not what something is, but what something could be. Let us be those people - let us find those people.” Omar Vicente Fernandez

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