The Scope of Blackness in ‘This Bitter Earth’

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’”

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’”

The 2018 ALTA Awards: A Night of Celebration for Latinx Artists

Pictured: The core team of organizers for the ALTA Awards being thanked by Isaac Gomez, co-Creative Director of the Awards (the other co-creator Nancy Garcia Loza).

“Just look at this turn-out! And we’re only 15 minutes into the night. Like WE’RE always running late!” – Laura Alcalá Baker, casting director and artistic programs manager at Victory Gardens.  The crowd attending the ALTA awards that evening at Victory Gardens Theater had packed the lobby barely 20 minutes into the cocktail hour! Continue reading “The 2018 ALTA Awards: A Night of Celebration for Latinx Artists”

Black Women Forgotten By History Soar in “Flyin’ West”

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””

Key Reviews: Caroline, Or Change

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”

‘Tangles and Plaques’ Demystifies Dementia

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”