All four playwrights have pulled their plays from the 2020 Ignition Festival at Victory Gardens’ Theatre. Read the full letter below, originally published on Medium.
As the 2020 Ignition Festival of New Plays at Victory Gardens approaches, we four emerging playwrights have decided to pull our respective plays from this development opportunity. We demand that leadership in Chicago theaters dispense with hollow gestures of solidarity, hold themselves accountable for past mistakes, and listen to the needs of their community and artists. Continue reading “Victory Gardens Theater Playwrights Withdraw From Ignition Festival of New Plays”
A Note from the Editor: Bear Bellinger’s voice in the community is critical to me. In a moment where I didn’t know if I had the strength to speak up, I read this essay, initially published on Medium. Bear has given us permission to re-publish it here, and I hope it gives you courage to use your voice, even when you’re scared, like it did for me. Thank you for the reminder that Black Lives, our lives, and what we do with them, matter. In an effort to prevent Bear from doing additional emotional labor, please refrain from reaching out directly to the artist. If you’d like to support, please consider giving directly. Venmo: @BearBellinger
I never expected to still be here.
Some mornings, I shoot up from bed confused, breathless, lost between the dream world I just escaped and the realization that I am still here. My body is whole, my mind is intact, my spirit…struggling.
You see, I occasionally have nightmares of being shot by the police, remixing past interactions with deadly consequences. I dream of KKK rallies and unprovoked bar fights. I dream of danger. I dream of our history. I dream of our present. And, those dreams inevitably end in my death.
You get it.
To be clear: I don’t want to die. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect to. Continue reading “To All The Black People Killed Before Me”
Sugar in our Wounds by Donja R. Love at First Floor Theater is nestled in the upstairs of the Den Theatre, a space designed by Joy Ahn to hold its audience tightly through the events of the play. Seemingly endless branches that source from an ancient tree glow from within, arching over the space as if to say come closer, I have a story in my roots. If you listen closely, Sam Clapp’s sound design will have you thinking you hear the ancestors murmuring to you as the wind whistles through the branches. Continue reading “‘Sugar in our Wounds,’ an Ode to Black Love in a Time of Great Pain”
Ms. Blakk For President is a world premiere play performed at Steppenwolf Theatre, co-written and directed by Tina Landau and written by Tarell Alvin McCraney. The show is about Chicago’s very own LGBTQ activist Terence Alan Smith, better known as the drag queen Joan Jett Blakk, who decided to run a political campaign with Act Up and Queer Nation to bring visibility to the Gay community in crisis during the 90s. It’s a pretty unknown story to someone, like me, who was born in the very late 1990s without context on figures who are often censored in our pop culture. Steppenwolf’s lobby dramaturgy does a great job with filling the atmosphere and historical context about the show. The dramaturgy display (Polly Hubbard) is filled with an engaging Chicago timeline that traces Joan Jett Blakk and the AIDS crisis from the 1970s to present today. There are also a few art installations and a memorial to Marsha P. Johnson. Continue reading “Pride is the Prerogative in ‘Ms. Blakk For President’ at Steppenwolf Theatre”
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange is a vibrant tribute to the transitional power of the Black femme. The moment we step into the abandoned train station at Court Theatre, we know we are in a space full with the possibility of movement and growth. Directed by Seret Scott, who took over the role of Lady in Orange in the original Broadway production, this beautiful production moves with purpose. Continue reading “‘For Colored Girls’ at Court Theatre Leads us to the end of our own Rainbows”
In Hansol Jung’s Cardboard Piano, produced by Timeline Theatre and directed by Mechelle Moe, we find ourselves trapped in a church without a redeemer. Two teen girls, one the daughter of an American missionary, the other a Ugandan, exchange vows by cande light on the eve of the millennium. Chris (Kearstyn Keller) is the typical preacher’s kid, stubborn and questioning of her identity in relation to her father’s, a bit naïve with the heart of a runaway. Adiel (Adia Alli) a young Ugandan girl is a persuasive quick thinker, harboring compassion and calm, all necessary traits for a young girl surviving in a war-torn country. Together, their chemistry and love are infectious, but this proves dangerous in a country collapsed by colonialism, mind and body. In Uganda, homosexuality is not only a sin, but illegal. Continue reading “‘Cardboard Piano’ A Romance That Reckons With Historical Pain”
This Bitter Earth by Harrison David Rivers and directed by Mikael Burke is currently running at About Face Theatre. This two person show follows an interracial gay couple through the most agonizing police violence events of our time. It is a treat to witness the gifted Sheldon Brown return to the stage again after an impressive turn in the Shipment. Especially in a role that is all about taking risks and attempting to live life to the fullest. Continue reading “The Scope of Blackness in ‘This Bitter Earth’”
It’s 1997 in the Hill District of Pittsburgh at Court Theatre and Harmond Wilks (Allen Gilmore) is running for Mayor. Radio Golf transforms the Court Theatre into an authentic depiction of a small office and its’ surroundings. The detail remains strong from the graffiti on the billboards to the discoloration in the ceilings. This set makes me feel at home in a place I’ve never visited, the raw attention to detail really captures the true essence of places we hear about but never see, such as the parking lot or infamous Aunt Ester’s home. Continue reading “Court Theatre’s ‘Radio Golf’ Rings True Today”
Monty Cole’s Hamlet is a technicolor reinvigoration of Shakespeare’s tragedy and a powerful call to action. Continue reading “A Vibrant, Technicolor ‘Hamlet’ Helmed by Monty Cole”
Black Lives, Black Words is an artistic movement that began in Chicago but has since had events in two continents, three countries, and seven cities. Producer and playwright Reginald Edmund began this venture with Executive Producer Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway in 2015, prompting playwrights and spoken word artists to respond to the question “do black lives matter?”
Continue reading “Black Lives Black Words Centers Black Women”