Posted inGhost Light

The Studebaker gets ready to roll

Last August, I caught up with Jacob Harvey just as he was taking over as the new (and first-ever) managing artistic director of theaters for the Fine Arts Building. At the time, he noted that with the loss of the Royal George as a midsize rental house, the soon-to-be-remodeled Studebaker Theater in the Fine Arts […]

Posted inTheater Review

The price of exposure

In Viola Spolin’s seminal work Improvisation for the Theater, the very first exercise listed is named “exposure.” During this exercise, a group of actors are divided into halves and instructed to simply look at others and allow others to look at them. This deceptively difficult task often challenges new performers greatly; not only do they […]

Posted inTheater Review

Take shelter

In the Chicago premiere of Sarah Treem’s When We Were Young and Unafraid with AstonRep, a group of multitudinous women navigate domesticity, violence, and identity in a cultural landscape that both oppresses and empowers. Set in 1972, just before the Roe v. Wade decision and 22 years before the passage of the Violence Against Women […]

Posted inTheater Review

Dictator dictation

The energy in the Den Theater last Thursday was electric, as The Secretaries, written by Omer Abbas Salem and directed by Laura Alcalá Baker, made its highly anticipated debut with First Floor Theater. The dark comedic play was first developed through Goodman Theatre’s Future Labs and marks Salem’s first full production as a playwright in […]

Posted inTheater Review

This bird has flown

Aaron Sorkin’s gonna Sorkin, even when he’s working off someone else’s material. In his new adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, now in a short touring stop with Broadway in Chicago, the creator of A Few Good Men, The American President, and The West Wing goes back to the courtyard drama/political grandstanding that […]

Posted inTheater Review

Babes with blades

Whether by design or happenstance, Writers Theatre has focused on the theme of women in competition and collaboration this season. In Eleanor Burgess’s Wife of a Salesman, two actors portraying Linda Loman and the “woman from Boston” in a contemporary riff on Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman wonder why their characters in the play-within-the-play […]

Posted inTheater Review

Immigrant song

If you’re a fan of Henry Louis Gates’s Finding Your Roots on PBS, then you can probably relate to Annabelle Lee Revak’s impulse to create a musical out of the World War I-era letters of her great-great-grandfather, Joe Loula. As in Gates’s program, the most interesting details in Revak’s Notes & Letters with Underscore Theatre […]

Posted inTheater Review

The play about the baby

Reproductive rights cuts both ways: the government deciding that you may not have a child comes from the same authoritarianism that tells you that you must continue an unwanted pregnancy. Given current grim news about the impending SCOTUS decision overturning Roe v. Wade, that thought is unavoidable when viewing Zoe Kazan’s dystopian After the Blast.  […]

Posted inTheater Review

Living room absurdism

It may be difficult to comprehend today just how shocking Edward Albee’s drama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was when it premiered in October 1962, the same week that the Cuban missile crisis began. While the atomic fireworks the world feared never happened, Albee’s three-act, three-hour-plus masterpiece detonated an explosion that rocked American culture to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Loving, repeating, collaborating, and intimacy

In a new exhibition, longtime collaborators Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger created an immersive multimedia installation that explores intimacy, distance, and the fluctuations between. The above comic captures their reflections on making together and materials in play. Text from the comic is transcribed here to ease readability. Our collaboration developed organically. We were both ceramic […]