If he hadn’t died of emphysema in 1999, legendary improv director, teacher, and performer Del Close,would be celebrating his 75th birthday on March 9. To mark the occasion, the iO Theater, 3541 N. Clark, will present a week of special performances and tributes. The festivities begin March 4–the tenth anniversary of Close’s death–and culminate on March 10 with the annual Del Awards.

The longtime artistic director of iO (back when it was called ImprovOlympic), Close was a veteran of Second City, the Saint Louis branch of the Compass Players, and the Committee in San Francisco. He was also accomplished as a stage and film actor, with credits ranging from the off-Broadway musical revue The Nervous Set and a Jeff Award-winning turn as Polonius in Hamlet at Wisdom Bridge Theater to a camp turn as a deranged minister in the 1988 remake of The Blob.

Del Week activities include a staged reading of an untitled screenplay about Close by his longtime artistic partner Charna Halpern (Thu, 3/5, 8 PM), a one-man show by Close’s former student Andy Dick (Thu, 3/5, 10:30 PM), a reunion performance by the improv team Baron’s Barracudas (Fri, 3/6, 10:30 PM), and a panel discussion (Sun, 3/8, 3 PM) featuring video appearances by former Close students Rachel Dratch, Stephnie Weir, and the Upright Citizens Brigade. For tickets and a complete schedule of events, contact iO online or at 773-880-0199.