Posted inStages of Survival

Definition Theatre makes plans for a new home while building community connections

Stages of Survival is an occasional series focusing on Chicago theater companies, highlighting their histories and how they’re surviving—and even thriving—in a landscape that’s become decidedly more challenging since the 2020 COVID-19 shutdown. Last month’s report from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and SMU DataArts, “Navigating Recovery: Arts and Culture Financial […]

Posted inTheater Preview

Rats—now and forever

Rats run rampant on Chicago streets, but on Chicago stages? Not so much. Kids’ productions of Charlotte’s Web may shine a light now and again on Templeton, the sneaky (but ultimately praiseworthy) barn rat who helps save Wilbur’s life, as well as Charlotte’s progeny. Some versions of The Nutcracker go with a Rat King instead […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Little Amal invites Chicago to walk a little closer together

Although Amal, a towering 12-foot puppet representing a ten-year-old Syrian refugee girl, is silent, she speaks a universal language of empathy that has shifted countless perspectives, including in our Windy City. “From the very first journey, it was apparent that this was something the community was craving,” says associate artistic director Khadijat Oseni. A collaborative […]

Posted inStages of Survival

‘We don’t want to get bigger. We want to get deeper.’

This week, we’re kicking off a new occasional series, Stages of Survival, spotlighting theater companies that are, despite the pervasive gloom-and-doom narratives about the performing arts, still producing. The plan is to eventually encompass a broad range of companies: Equity and non-Equity, those that are itinerant and those that have their own spaces, and companies […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Clowns over easy

The invite to a clown brunch arrived at a pivotal point in my summer, when the thought of clowning and eating made perfect sense. I accepted, and invited along a clown friend as well, so we could dine and laugh together, making hot clown summer suddenly seem feasible—thanks to the heat wave and air pollution […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The art of access

On Sunday, August 13, from 1 to 4 PM, the Art Institute of Chicago hosted Cripping the Galleries, a series of live gallery activations through the lenses of crip culture, access, and belonging by Chicago dance artists in collaboration with Bodies of Work: A Network of Disability Art and Culture and the Museum of Contemporary […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Puppet wisdom

“Did they have puppets 10,000 years ago?” I asked in response to a story Blair Thomas, founder and artistic director of the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, was telling us about humanity’s long-term relationship with puppets.  Thomas replied without missing a beat. “Yes! Do you know how we know?”“How?”“Past life regression!” Seven artists from different […]

Posted inPerforming Arts Feature

Something Wonderful once again

First published in 1978, Jeffrey Sweet’s Something Wonderful Right Away, an oral history of the Second City, and its precursor, the Compass Players, has inspired generations of comic actors and improvisors to try to become part of the Second City or to create their own theater to rival Second City—or both. Ask any prominent contemporary […]