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 […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Susan Nussbaum, 1953-2022

Editor’s note: Chicago playwright, novelist, actor, director, and disability rights activist Susan Nussbaum died April 28 of pneumonia at 68. Playwright Mike Ervin, who collaborated with Nussbaum as cowriter on the comedy revue The Plucky and Spunky Show and whose 1999 play, The History of Bowling, was directed by Nussbaum, remembers his friend and mentor. […]

Posted inTheater Review

Reunion and regret

Like several post-pandemic shows in Chicago, the Artistic Home’s production of The Pavilion, written by Craig Wright and directed by Julian Hester, is about an intimate relationship between two people over time. It is also about the creation of the universe, being tethered to the past, and literally burning down sentimentality. High school sweethearts Peter […]

Posted inTheater Review

The bones of grief

Laura Schellhardt’s Digging Up Dessa was commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center as part of its Theater for Young Audiences program in 2018. But this play, now in its Chicago premiere with Theatre Above the Law, is like a lot of great YA fiction—relevant to many audiences.  Digging Up Dessa Through 5/22: Fri-Sat 8 […]

Posted inTheater Review

People who need people

When everyone on the stage is excellent, it shows a director fully in command of the material. That’s the case with Cody Estle’s production of The Luckiest by Melissa Ross, receiving its Chicago premiere at the Raven Theatre. Plays about a young woman’s disability and impending death always risk straying into Love Story-style bathos, while […]

Posted inTheater Review

War cries

A wooden rowboat and plastic sheets lining two back walls are the only decorations for Sarah Tolan-Mee’s English-language adaptation of Heiner Müller’s 1982 cry-of-anguish riff on war, betrayal, and the messiness of identity. Using the Greek legends of Medea and Jason as a jumping-off point, this is a raging, poetic rant against tyranny and fate […]

Posted inTheater Review

Steppenwolf’s Seagull opens a lovely new space

“Here is a theater. No curtain, no wings, no scenery. Just an empty space.” Konstantin Treplev, the young and hungry artist manqué in Anton Chekhov’s Seagull, intones these words before the disastrous and abortive premiere of his play-within-the-play for his family. But at the Saturday opening of ensemble member Yasen Peyankov’s production at Steppenwolf, it […]

Posted inDance

Light drives the story in TAKE

On an industrial strip of Rockwell just off Elston, beyond a white door with numbers painted in red, past a makeshift bar, through a dark curtain lies a white brick room filled with smoke. Through the haze, folding chairs line each wall, leaving bare an expanse of concrete, above which soar long sheets of white […]

Posted inArts & Culture

‘Afong Moy was a real person’

The year was 1834. Indigenous communities were being displaced from their ancestral homelands on the forced march known as the Trail of Tears. Over two million people of African descent were enslaved. And America’s first model minority, Afong Moy, was imported to New York: a 14-year-old girl with bound feet, made to perform for the […]