Posted inArts & Culture

Fire From the Mountain

A stirring and informative account of the Sandinista struggle, made up almost exclusively of personal testimonies from Sandinistas, this documentary by Deborah Shaffer–who won an Oscar in 1985 for her Witness to War: Dr. Charlie Clements–is loosely based on Omar Cabezas’s book about his own training as a guerrilla fighter in response to the Somoza […]

Posted inMusic

1988 Palais Royal Orchestra

When society bandleader Paul Whiteman led his Palais Royal Orchestra in “An Experiment in Modern Music” at New York’s Aeolian Hall on February 12, 1924, his intention was (in the words of the original program notes) “purely educational”: he wanted to demonstrate to high-toned listeners that “the discordant jazz” of the streets had evolved into […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The White Plague

THE WHITE PLAGUE Northlight Theatre The White Plague, by Czech playwright Karel Capek, was written more than 50 years ago. Capek was a minor figure in Expressionist theater (compared to Ernst Toller or Georg Kaiser) and is remembered primarily for his play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). You don’t see Expressionist theater much anymore, and no […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Charlie Haden

Hearing Charlie Haden, one is almost tempted to say, “They don’t make ’em like that anymore”: in an age of busy bassists who have devoted themselves to agile acrobatics, Haden’s unhurried technique stands out. His lack of conventional “virtuosity” places all the more emphasis on his open-air note choices, his pantonal harmonic sense, and that […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Two Can Play

TWO CAN PLAY Kuumba Theatre Two Can Play, by Jamaican writer Trevor Rhone, is a two-person, two-act play that, by the end, almost seems like two different plays. The first act is a farcical sociopolitical cartoon; the second a traditional, sentimental domestic comedy. In some plays, this midstream change of dramatic horses might produce very […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Queen Hester

QUEEN HESTER Chicago Medieval Players at the Fine Arts Building Rare even for medieval drama, Queen Hester is definitely off the beaten path. A Purim play (or purimspil) thought to be the work of Jewish actor-musicians at the Tudor court circa 1530, this exotic work was briefly performed, then disappeared into obscurity (this may well […]

Posted inArts & Culture

David “Honeyboy” Edwards

The music of David “Honeyboy” Edwards is perhaps the purest traditional Delta blues still played in Chicago. His list of childhood acquaintances and influences reads like a who’s who of legends, beginning with Robert Johnson and including the likes of Charlie Patton, Big Walter Horton, Big Joe Williams, and many others. Honeyboy built an early […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

How come archaeological ruins are always underground? Think about it. Why isn’t everything right on the surface? Where does this dirt come from that keeps burying the past? Is the Earth getting thicker and thicker, like the trunk of a tree? Doesn’t make sense to me. –Nig Lipscomb, Chicago As a matter of fact, Nig–and […]