Opening with the calming sound of wind sweeping across the plains, Flyin’ West is pure Americana, evoking the broad grandeur of big skies and big hearts full of freedom. It is 1898, and a chosen family of black women have settled in the all-black town of Nicodemus, Kansas. American history in most classroom settings rarely acknowledges the existence of African-Americans outside of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, yet the Backstage Guide provided by American Blues Theatre in conjunction with the production, does a wonderful job of correcting this history of erasure. Continue reading “Black Women Forgotten By History Soar in “Flyin’ West””
These are the first reviews from the second session of The Key: Young Critics Mentorship Program. This year’s cohort is 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 Caroline, or Change at Firebrand Theatre in collaboration with Timeline Theatre below!
Continue reading “Key Reviews: Caroline, Or Change”
Drury Lane does not have a casting problem.
Drury Lane has an institutionalized racism problem. As does Marriott. As does Paramount. As does just about every non-PoC centered theatrical institution in this city. To place the problem at the feet of casting is to blame the symptom rather than the cause. Continue reading “Drury Lane Does Not Have A Casting Problem”
Tangles and Plaques at the Neo-Futurists, a Neo-Lab commission about the effects of dementia first seen in Fall of 2017, has returned for a three-week engagement at the Neo-Futurarium. Sourcing its name from Plaques and Tangles, deposits of protein that cause cell damage and death in the brain, Tangles and Plaques attempts to translate dementia into the language of theatre. This is inherently successful in the structure of the play. Sections of the script are repeated and intentionally disorient the audience. Neos ensemble member and creator of the piece Kirsten Riiber wrote the show based on her work in reminiscence therapy at a local retirement home. Reminiscence therapy is used to conjure the most relevant and clear memories to an aging person, those from their childhood. Therefore the meat of the show takes place in the “accumulated nostalgia-scape of seven artists on a budget.” Continue reading “‘Tangles and Plaques’ Demystifies Dementia”
Set in New York City and spanning 2006-2011, HOMOS, or Everyone in America by Jordan Seavey, now playing at Pride Films and Plays, is a fast paced and up-close and personal examination of the lives of two gay men in love. Continue reading “Is Love Enough? ‘HOMOS, or Everyone in America’”
Pillowtalk presented at Victory Gardens Theatre was a highly moving, visceral depiction of two complex and vibrant individuals striving to lead successful lives and love one another within the constraints of white supremacist, heteropatriarchal, capitalism. Buck (AJ Moraga) is a print journalist who wants to do “good work” and change the world. Sam (Basit Shittu) is grateful to be employed by the Republicans after losing his shot at being an Olympic swimmer after a public drug scandal. The couple lives in a pricey, one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, NY, represented on stage by a minimalist set built to focus on an untidy, upright bed downstage center. The white apartment walls that flank the bed are creatively represented by two long vertical neon lights connected by a long, horizontal “ceiling” light. Continue reading “‘Pillowtalk’ Examines Love Under Oppression”
**Please note: Pronouns used in direct reference to character are the pronouns the characters use. This may or may not match the pronouns of the actor portraying the character. Pronouns used in direct reference to the actor are the pronouns the actor uses according to the program.**
If you are looking for a hilarious and exciting new work that is feminist and delightfully queer, look no further than The Lady Demands Satisfaction a farce written by Arthur Jolly and directed by Morgan Manasa. This play deservedly won the Bi-Annual Joining Sword and Pen playwriting competition Babes with Blades holds to encourage the writing and development of plays that feature women’s stories center stage. This one hits that mark loud and proud. Continue reading “Babes with Blades Serves Feminist Farce in ‘The Lady Demands Satisfaction’”
The Factory Theater knows that sometimes we need to escape from the heaviness of the world, and producing a play like The Adventures of Spirit Force Five seemed like the pep rally we needed. The program contains a director’s note by Spenser Davis highlighting the inspiration for this show: the spirit of the 90’s. Saturday morning cartoons, bright music, and brighter colors of millenial youth where everything looked spun from sugar and anything was possible. As a 90’s kid fatigued by the brutal Nationalist landscape where families are torn apart, children are in cages, and there seems like no way out, I was thirsty for it. These shows and movies raised us to be our own heroes and well, we just need a reminder of how to do that every once in awhile to keep up the fight. Continue reading “Flossyfluff: ‘Spirit Force Five’ at Factory Theater”
There is a moment in the television show “Community” where a white girl says, “I can excuse racism but I draw the line at animal cruelty.” It’s one of the most succinct jabs at the tendency and ability of privileged white folks to dismiss the pain and oppression of their fellow human beings in favor of appearing “progressive” in other ways. And I couldn’t stop thinking about that quote as I was watching Kristiana Rae Colón’s “Tilikum” — the world premiere currently running at Sideshow Theatre Company. Continue reading “Kristiana Rae Colón’s ‘Tilikum’ Reflects Humanity’s Misguided Priorities”
This piece was co-written by Chicago actor/director Wardell Julius Clark and Regina Victor.
Father Comes Home From The Wars opened at the Goodman Theatre in what can only be categorized as a seismic explosion of a production, excellent on all fronts. Continue reading “‘Father Comes Home From the Wars’ and an Absent Freedom”