The greatest actress in the English-speaking theater is also the most politically engaged. That’s why Vanessa Redgrave comes to Chicago this weekend not as the star of some prestigious, expensive Shakespeare tour but for an incredibly low price as the opening attraction of “Stand Together for Human Rights,” a conference sponsored by Amnesty International USA, the Stanley Foundation, and other groups to mark the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In her almost-solo show Planet Without a Visa, Redgrave performs dramatic monologues, poetry, and songs on the theme of exile–psychological as well as geographical and political–by such diverse writers as Tennessee Williams, Jimmy Santiago Banca, and Woody Guthrie. The centerpiece of this intermissionless program is Bertolt Brecht’s “The Jewish Wife,” a subtext-packed character study of a Jewish woman in 1930s Germany taking leave of her gentile husband; from Williams come selections from Orpheus Descending, a play about an Italian woman trapped in a hateful marriage to a southern bigot that Redgrave did on Broadway with Steppenwolf’s Kevin Anderson several years ago. Tall and charismatic, with short white hair setting off her sculpted features, Redgrave conveys an extraordinary mixture of sensuality and intellect; her husky, elegantly accented voice communicates with exquisite economy the nuances of both fierce passion and droll dark humor; and her combination of earthiness and delicacy gives the silences between her words astonishing power. This show–which Redgrave has performed around the world under the auspices of Moving Theatre (a company she cofounded with her brother Corin, Berliner Ensemble veteran Ekkahard Schall, and other artists)–also features Austrian classical pianist (and Holocaust survivor) Katharina Wolpe. Northwestern University Law School, Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago, 312-503-0396 or TTY 312-503-4472; call 312-427-2060 for information on the “Stand Together for Human Rights” conference. Friday, December 4, 7:30 PM. $15. –Albert Williams
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.