“You can come in here, be yourself, and do the weird stuff you want to do and you’re going to get nothing but support” says Corn Productions new Managing Director Justin Oliver Lance. Corn's openness to new ideas inspired him to take up a leadership position at Corn and is what has kept him involved for almost a decade. He starred in his first show at Corn in 2011 and hasn’t strayed since. When Justin isn’t hosting Corn’s bi-annual improvisation competition “The Original Improv Gladiators” or directing a sketch show, he’s hard at work maintaining the physical theatre or, as he puts it, “making sure the theatre doesn’t burn to the ground.”
Justin’s passion for Corn is seen by his commitment to making sure big ideas come to life, no matter how crazy. “We say yes to new, goofy ideas and support them all the way through to make it happen.” Corn is home to over 160 original shows, which would not be possible without the support of a highly collaborative team. Justin believes this is what sets Corn apart from other storefront theaters in the Chicago theatre community. “We’re more than just acting” he states as he describes how the Corn community works, “we’re also designers, writers, directors, stage managers, and technicians.” Corn is, after all, a production team comprised of multi-talented people that support each other through each and every show.
When asked about goals for the future of corn, Justin had one response, “More perspectives.” He went on to explain that this means more original work from more artists of different backgrounds. He hopes to extend Corn’s reach to become a more inclusive and diverse theatre, an “Open door theatre” as he puts it. “It’s about doing what you want, even if it fails.” Justin describes Corn as a place of experimentation and collaboration, where anyone is welcome to pitch their zany ideas.
Justin is enthusiastic about the future of Corn, as he reveals that this coming season will be focused entirely on original work made by company members. Justin most recently directed “Death Toll: The Halloween Drinking Game Sketch Show” and is also a contributing sketch writer. We can’t wait to see what you and your team accomplish at Corn, Justin!