Actor and Director Wardell Julius Clark interviews Chuck Smith, the director of the Goodman Theatre production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. This interview was recorded on February 6, 2022. At the time, Clark was serving as the understudy for the role of Citizen Barlow, originally played by Sharif Atkins.
Clark has since taken over the role of Citizen Barlow from Atkins, performing since February 11th and will continue playing the role of Citizen through closing this Sunday, February 27th, 2022.
Chuck Smith was the dramaturg for the world premiere of Gem of the Ocean in 2003 directed by Marion McClinton. Wardell Julius Clark previously understudied Citizen Barlow and performed in the Court Theatre production directed by Ron OJ Parson in 2015.
Wardell Julius Clark:
So first things first – In 2003 you dramaturg’d the world premiere of Gem of the Ocean?
Had you met August before that?
Yeah. I had worked with August, uh, I mean actually worked with him in ‘97 when I [directed] Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom [at the Goodman Theatre]. He came to the preview and uh, you know, we got this long preview [period]. He came to the first preview and stayed…The whole preview period and worked with me. You know, during the day, you know, in the mornings I came up in the morning. And we go, I show him the South Side, you know? Continue reading “Gem of the Ocean: Chuck Smith and Wardell Julius Clark in Conversation”
I first saw Fannie during its tour of Chicago city parks in the fall of 2020. Since that abridged version, the play has gone on to be enjoyed by audiences in Seattle, Washington D.C, Sarasota, Florida and Ashland, Oregon. Written by Cheryl L West, this one-woman play with music exalts the life and workings of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.
Hamer was central to the founding of both the National Women’s Political Caucus and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which fought for the political advancement of both women and people of color respectively. She then later launched the Freedom Farm Cooperative, which sought to buy land for black people to collectively farm and sustain black life in Mississippi. A survivor of police brutality, misogyny, voter suppression, and a forced hysterectomy, Hamer is a symbol of perseverance and non-violent resistance.
Continue reading “‘Fannie (The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer)’ returns to the Goodman Theatre, bigger and better than ever”
After opening on March 7, 2020 and enjoying five exciting previews, School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play closed due to national and global strictures regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. The production was set to be a warm return to the Goodman stage for Ghanaian-American playwright Jocelyn Bioh and seasoned Chicago director Lili-Anne Brown, whose most recent triumph of I Hate It Here has us all wondering where Brown keeps her magic wand.
Throughout the pandemic, so many communities experienced a multitude of loss, and the Chicago theatre community is no exception. We saw not only show cancellations and postponements but many theater closures – with many companies still presently struggling to come back. We also experienced a swarm of social unrest in Chicago and throughout the country that called for the unequivocal support of all black and trans lives. The Goodman reopens their doors with a production not only written and directed by black women, but with an entire cast and team made up of mostly black women. I can’t help but wonder if this production’s 506-day sabbatical was a fated occurrence meant to center our return to the theatre around the gifts and powers of black women.
Continue reading “‘School Girls’ Naturally Shines as In-Person Theatre Returns at The Goodman”
“How do we capture something that is fundamentally, profoundly, a live experience?” – Lili-Anne Brown asks the audience in her pre-show interview at one minute to curtain. I Hate it Here by Ike Holter is Brown’s savvy answer to theatre’s existential dilemma.
A title slide appears: ‘Going live in a few moments,’ which marks the beginning of the incredible adventure you’re about to see. Shot in the style of a 90s sitcom, a reality TV show, or the live medium of Saturday Night Live. Release your need for linear storytelling and let Ike Holter and the cast and crew of I Hate It Here take you on a grief, rage, and pandemic fueled fever dream that will have you laughing and crying for 80 minutes straight.
Did I mention it’s all live? Continue reading ““I Hate It Here” Heralds a Fresh New Wave of Theater Innovation”
Review by Hannah Herrera Greenspan
Spanish Translation by Claudia Quesada
Power. Ambition. Corruption. Blood. Pain. In the round. Español. A live chicken. Need I say more?
I had the absolute delight to witness a brilliant adaptation of Macbeth, conceived by Juan Carrillo and Antonio Zúñiga, directed by Carrillo, of Los Colochos Teatro. This six-year old theatre company based in Mexico City, is committed to, “…a quality, critical, and national theater.” Los Colochos Teatro genuinely values the exchange of thoughts about the work. After the performance, Juan Carrillo asked audience members to share our thoughts with the company, good, bad, over social media, or face to face. Quite different from American theatre-where we leave the conversation to the discretion of the critic. Los Colochos wants to start a conversation with its audience members. How refreshing is that? Continue reading “Mendoza – No se Olvide (We Will Not Forget)”