Meet The Keys – Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel

Get to know Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel, a recent Alumni of The Key Young Critics Mentorship Program! Each writer wrote a multimedia review about a piece of pop culture currently capturing their imagination that you can read at the end of Yasmin’s profile. We’d like to thank Angelica Jade Bastien at Vulture for sharing her insights on media reviewing with us. Check out more of Yasmin and her cohort’s writing in our Key Reviews section!

Name: Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel
Age: 22, Aries 

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of arts criticism?: Arts criticism is the way by which the ephemeral production of artists can be stamped into a place and time for posterity. By writing on the arts, we are creating a separate cannon that serves to document the who, what, where, when, how, and why of art for the present and future. Though criticism is viewed as assessing the quality of the work, it should also aim to root the production in our world. This means writing on the artists and acknowledging their social locations, their personal lenses. Continue reading “Meet The Keys – Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel”

‘The Revolutionists’ is A Rush of Hope for Femmes Who Fight

The Revolutionists by Lauren Gunderson directed by Denise Yvette Serna is a necessary reflection on the role of femmes creating potent social change. In 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected President , becoming one of the most powerful men in the world. Of those who voted, 53% of white women backed Donald J. Trump over Hillary Clinton, preferring to advance a conservative agenda despite Trump’s well-documented history of violence against women, lack of political experience, and overall vile behavior. Since the election, many have been trying to dissect and understand just what happened in the 2016 election. The most effective analyses point a finger at the insidious nature of white supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy as they manifest in the American oligarchic democratic experiment. Within this context, The Revolutionists  play deftly points at the ways in which #whitefeminism continues to miss the mark, and it offers all femmes a hefty dose of hope and encouragement to continue fighting systems of oppression. Continue reading “‘The Revolutionists’ is A Rush of Hope for Femmes Who Fight”

Key Reviews: ‘Rightlynd’ at Victory Gardens Theater

These are the fourth set of reviews from this year’s The Key: Young Critics Mentorship Program. Members of this cohort are: Sierra Carlson, Yasmin Mikhaiel, Aaron Lockman, Elon Sloan, and Lonnae Hickman. All reviews are workshopped and edited by co-facilitators Oliver Sava and Regina Victor. Check out their reviews of Rightlynd at Victory Gardens Theater below! 
Continue reading “Key Reviews: ‘Rightlynd’ at Victory Gardens Theater”

‘The Dark At The Top of The Stairs’ Challenges Life, Love and Companionship

The Dark at The Top of The Stairs by William Inge  holds a universal theme– life is hard, love is hard, but if you have the right people it’s all worth it. Directed by Jerell Henderson, it focuses on a family of four; a begrudged father, an abiding yet willful mother, the bratty younger brother and his closed off sister.  We live in their home, more specifically their living room, for the entirety of this three-act production, it is littered with decor bringing an added authenticity to every moment (set design Sam Rausch). Continue reading “‘The Dark At The Top of The Stairs’ Challenges Life, Love and Companionship”

‘Small Mouth Sounds,’ A Tender, Introspective Comedy

Bess Wohl’s Small Mouth Sounds, directed by Shade Murray at A Red Orchid Theatre, is set at a silent retreat. Four strangers and one couple, have gathered to learn from an unseen guru (Meighan Gerachis) heard only through the loudspeaker system at the retreat center. As these characters camp out on the shores of a wooded lake coping with bug bites and bears, they reflect, communicate and seek inner peace. Continue reading “‘Small Mouth Sounds,’ A Tender, Introspective Comedy”

Key Reviews: Revolution in ‘Crumbs From the Table of Joy’

These are the third set of reviews from this year’s The Key: Young Critics Mentorship Program. Members of this cohort are: Sierra Carlson, Yasmin Mikhaiel, Aaron Lockman, Elon Sloan, and Lonnae Hickman. All reviews are workshopped and edited by co-facilitators Oliver Sava and Regina Victor. Check out their reviews of Crumbs from the Table of Joy at Raven Theatre below!  Continue reading “Key Reviews: Revolution in ‘Crumbs From the Table of Joy’”

‘The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy de Las Rosas’ Brings Superheroes to La Villita

This review was translated into Spanish by Itzel Blancas.

Comic books and superheroes have a long history of symbolically representing tense political and social realities in a way that is accessible to the general public. Knowing Ricardo Gamboa’s radical politics, and Free Street Theater’s commitment to making accessible theater that is representative of Chicago’s South Side, it only makes sense that they would collaborate to bring superheroes to the stage with The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy de las Rosas. The play masquerades as a piece about Jimmy (Ulises Acosta), a baseball loving 13 year-old with telekinetic powers. Jimmy embarks on an adventure with siblings Eddie (Kyle Johnson) and Ayana (Ashley Bland), two Black homeless youths with superpowers of their own, and Juani (Mia Arevalo), the neighborhood gossip, to rescue his mom from an unknown villain. However, true to the comic-book genre, at its core the play also engages with a myriad of socio-political issues such as environmental justice, gentrification, police brutality, and immigration. Continue reading “‘The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy de Las Rosas’ Brings Superheroes to La Villita”

E. Faye Butler Shines in a Megawatt ‘Gypsy’

The production of Gypsy by Porchlight at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, represents the very best of musical theatre. Most older musicals rarely stand the test of time in terms of content, their stories often saddled with the most cringeworthy stereotypes and one-dimensional female characters. In contrast, Gypsy, originally written in 1957, may have been is  ahead-of-its time. Inspired by a true story about an ex-stripper turned stage-mom, it still pushes boundaries even in 2018. Pair that with a sophisticated book and lyrics by powerhouse duo Sondheim and Laurents, and a megawatt star like E. Faye Butler, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a show. Continue reading “E. Faye Butler Shines in a Megawatt ‘Gypsy’”

Male Fragility Fuels The Explosive ‘Fun Harmless Warmachine’

This review was penned by one of our current writers in The Key: Young Critics Mentorship Program. They are able to sign up for additional shows to grow their criticism portfolio with us. Read The Key Reviews from Fall 2018 here. 

Upon reading the synopsis, many would wonder if Fun Harmless Warmachine is the play we need right now. It’s the tale of the supposed “nice guy,” a gamer working a job he hates in a world where the words of women leave him baffled and angry. With this formula in mind, it is not too hard to believe Tom gets sucked into a toxic online community, known as the Order of the Sword, which first functions as a digital place of refuge, a place to confide in like-minded gamers. This story is based on #Gamergate, a notable controversy you should look up before the show—though the program offers a list of videogame definitions to fill in some of the blanks. Continue reading “Male Fragility Fuels The Explosive ‘Fun Harmless Warmachine’”