It’s always been there.
Before the Greeks fought for supremacy throughout their city states, before the pharaohs put hieratic curves to papyrus, before sun-scorched Fertile Crescent farmers first applied fire to clay…there was politics.
And as long as there has been politics, there has been political cynicism.
Winston Churchill once said: “Politics are almost as exciting as war and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics—you can be killed many times.”
Countless historians and pundits would likely agree. Few can picture more pitiless components of the social machine than the gears and levers of politics, and many would contend that those who immerse themselves in this frenzied arena must detach themselves emotionally in order to prevent tremulous and short-lived careers.
Some would take it further still. There are those who have maintained that politics is a game of attrition, that there is no quarter in politics…and that politics has no heart.
But they would all be wrong.
Dr. Paul Lisnek is one of the most treasured members of the Auditorium Theatre family. A widely-respected and insightful analyst, Dr. Lisnek has been immersed in Chicago politics for several decades. Throughout that time, he has shown that it is possible to adjoin politics and compassion…and today he continues to demonstrate that even the most kind-hearted among us can not only exist, but can thrive in the rabid political world.
One of Illinois’ true native sons, Paul Lisnek was born in Skokie and attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, from which he received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Master of Arts in Speech Communication, Juris Doctor, and Ph.D. in Speech Communication. An author, radio personality, lecturer, political analyst for WGN-TV, and the host of the popular nightly program “Politics Tonight” on CLTV, Paul Lisnek is driven to impact the world that surrounds us. Intellectual, concise, and eloquent throughout his television appearances, it is his warmth and generosity that are most familiar to all those at the Auditorium—illustrious qualities for which we are forever grateful.
Dr. Lisnek’s first interaction with the Auditorium Theatre arose from his love of architecture and Chicago history. Already familiar with the Auditorium’s shining architectural legacy, Paul Lisnek quickly became enamored with the theatre’s transcendent programming. Throughout the years, he has been a welcome and consistent presence at a variety of the Auditorium’s musical performances.
As a constant fixture at many of our shows, Dr. Lisnek understands that maintaining a structure like the Auditorium Theatre is no easy task. At nearly 125 years old, the Auditorium Theatre requires a substantial array of restoration and programming support, and areas in need of attention vary, from structural and capital concerns to outreach programs and performances.
But what is truly exceptional about Dr. Lisnek is that he recognizes that one individual can make an immediate—and a significant—impact to the future of one of Chicago’s most formidable artistic icons. In fact, his generosity is so pronounced that he recently selected the Auditorium Theatre as a beneficiary of a bequest from his estate. “I want to make a stamp on (the Auditorium Theatre’s) preservation, and to do something that really matters,” he said. However, he also cautioned that such gestures can also be combined with more immediate sources of support. “I believe in giving back and I want other people to realize that they can give today and see results. You don’t need to only wait until after you’re gone to make a gift to something that you believe in.”
Dr. Lisnek’s compassion is substantial, and his kindness is evident throughout the Auditorium Theatre. The most recent examples are his tremendous gifts to refurbish and enhance our merchandise counters and coffee bars. For several years these prominent touch-points in the Auditorium’s main lobby were in dire need of attention. Now his incredible selflessness has helped transform them into two elegant and aesthetically refined locations for all our patrons to enjoy. In fact, individuals who visit our coffee bar can experience two unique beverages created for Dr. Lisnek—the Paul’s N’Awlinz Café Noir (a tribute to Paul’s affection for New Orleans), and the Aloha Mertz (in recognition of his affinity for Hawaii and his beloved dog, Mertz).
At the Auditorium Theatre, we are proud of not only the building’s shining legacy and remarkable endurance, but of all the staff members who work tirelessly to ensure this National Historic Landmark continues to evolve. We are particularly honored that Dr. Lisnek recognizes everything that must occur behind the scenes to help the Auditorium prosper. He speaks glowingly of all those at the theatre and our efforts to include and welcome everyone who passes through our doors—but to us, these superlatives are as much a reflection of his humility as they are of our efforts. When asked about his amazing support, Dr. Lisnek simply responded: “(I wanted to) send a message to others that you can do the same. You can make a difference now.”
Architecture and artistry, dogs and democracy…Dr. Paul Lisnek’s eclectic range of interests are as varied as the elaborate Auditorium Theatre itself. It is only fitting then, that these two Chicago icons should develop such a profoundly enriching relationship—one that will continue to affect this cherished landmark for generations to come. We are humbled to benefit from such exceptional kindness, and we are proud to say that Dr. Paul Lisnek is true proof that once in a while, politics and family can be the perfect mix.