‘School Girls’ Naturally Shines as In-Person Theatre Returns at The Goodman

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.

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Sideshow Theatre Company Offers Artistic Residency to Playwright Preston Choi

CHICAGO (July 22, 2021) – Sideshow Theatre Company has announced they will be offering a nine-month artistic residency to Chicago-based playwright Preston Choi. Through the residency, Sideshow will provide Choi with artistic and dramaturgical support as he develops his full-length play Drive-In to the End of the World. The residency will culminate in March 2022 with a reading of Choi’s final script. This residency strengthens the existing artistic partnership between Sideshow Theatre and Choi, who had previously been selected to participate in Sideshow’s new-play development program, “The Freshness Initiative.”

Artistic Director Regina Victor expressed their excitement for Sideshow’s continued partnership with Choi: “Preston originally joined us in collaboration for The Freshness, but as many of us have experienced, quarantine and working remotely have drastically altered the process. We have instead decided to innovate and devise a residency that would once again center this talented playwright, whom we are fortunate to host. This was a thrilling opportunity to take a step back from the capitalist mindset and center ourselves in practices of process over product and the limitless potential world-building of Black Radical Imagination.”

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“I Hate It Here” Heralds a Fresh New Wave of Theater Innovation

“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”

Founding Artistic Director of Writers Theatre Michael Halberstam Resigns

The Founding Artistic Director of Writers Theatre, Michael Halberstam announced in a press release today that Halberstam has resigned from his role at the theatre.

“It has been an honor and a joy to lead Writers Theatre for the past 30 years. I am proud of the strong working relationships I have created with some of the field’s finest practitioners. I am grateful for their many years of unparralleled artistry and the work we have created together. I am fortunate in having served one of the finest audiences a theatre could ask for and particularly for having  diversified our stages in the past five years. I am also profoundly grateful to our board of trustees, our superb staff, and the donors and patrons of Writers Theatre,” Halberstam said in his resignation statement on 7/14/2021.

Halberstam’s resignation marks the end of his 30-year artistic leadership career and stewardship of Writers Theatre, including the establishment of their new theatre building in 2016. Halberstam and Writers Theatre leadership state “now is the time to look forward, to create pathways for new voices and stories, and to build for the next 30 years.”

The Board, Halberstam, and the Writers Theatre leadership team, led by Executive Director Kathryn Lipuma, have begun a transition process with the best interests of the theatre, staff, artists, and its patrons at the forefront. Writers Theatre had received complaints about Halberstam’s workplace conduct and allegations of sexual abuse. Similar community concerns had previously voiced by local journalists about Halberstam’s sexual abuse and workplace harm allegations, while local artists have also been vocal on Facebook and Twitter.

The press release states, “the timing of Halberstam’s departure signals Halberstam and Writers Theatre’s desire to preserve the goodwill of the theatre and to continue to ensure a respectful workplace for all.”

A national search will be conducted for a new artistic director. Writers Theatre has appointed their long-time Director of New Work and Dramaturgy, Bobby Kennedy, to be the interim artistic director during the search. Plans for the Writers 2021/2022 season will be announced in late August 2021.

Resignations, and endings, are not always bad things. Sometimes they are necessary for the future to grow and truly be able to take root. The We See You White American Theatre Demands have a section that actually suggests leaders should consider resignation after 20 years. Harm reduction, safety, and securing a future for our artists are beneficial reasons to consider making staffing changes. We at Rescripted are sending our love out to our community as we undergo these leadership changes. Whether they inspire excitement or fear, hold the faith that we are constantly improving on ourselves. Our institutions can handle change, and I know from experience, it’s only going to make us better.

‘American Side Efectos’ is a Triumphant Solo Show Full of Anger, Humor, and Heart

American Side Efectos is a solo performance piece written and performed by Debbie Baños, which tells the story of Debbie’s mother, an immigrant to the United States from El Salvador, and her painful, years-long fight within the immigration system to become a US citizen. While the subject matter could easily set a dark tone, Debbie infuses the proceedings with enough humor, heart, and warmth that American Side Efectos serves as both a loving portrait of the Baños family and a scathing indictment of institutionalized racism.

The show’s set is deliberately straightforward, with only a few simple set pieces placed across the stage, all of which Debbie interacts with at some point. I have complained before about solo performance that is overproduced or extravagant, and this show understands the fundamental appeal of the form; that is, that solo performance is all about knocking down the fourth wall, stripping away the normal artifice of theatre, and speaking directly to the audience.

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Actors Theatre of Louisville to Produce All-Trans and GNC Reading of ‘The Wolves’ by Sarah DeLappe

As a coordinated attack on transgender youth escalates across the country, Actors Theatre of Louisville and casting director/producer Charlie Hano are partnering on an all-trans/gender non-conforming reading of Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, about an indoor soccer team navigating adolescence as they go through their daily warmups. Amid passing drills and stretching routines, a portrait emerges of nine teenage athletes actively figuring out their roles in the changing world around them.

All proceeds exceeding costs will go directly to the ACLU of Kentucky for their advocacy and support of trans rights.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021
7:30 p.m. EDT

The Wolves
written by Sarah DeLappe
directed by Regina Victor
produced by Actors Theatre of Louisville and Charlie Hano

Age Recommendation: 13+

Run Time: approximately 90 minutes

Tickets start at $10 at ActorsTheatre.org

The ensemble includes Sandra Caldwell, August Forman, Theo Germaine, Z Infante, Esco Jouley, J Riley JrSushma SahaOmer Abbas Salem, Quei Tann, Sawyer Smith, and Evie Shuckman.

The production was written by Sarah DeLappe and directed by Regina Victor. The production team includes casting director and producer Charlie Hano, stage manager and production designer Estrellita Beatriz, artistic producer Emily Tarquin, dramaturg and gender consultant Catherine Miller, and assistant director and dramaturg Emma Durbin.

Continue reading “Actors Theatre of Louisville to Produce All-Trans and GNC Reading of ‘The Wolves’ by Sarah DeLappe”

An Interview with Will Wilhelm: Shakespeare, Tarot, and Creating Queer Spaces in Art

This week, our chief editor Regina Victor had the chance to chat with Chicago-based actor Will Wilhelm (they/them) about their interview podcast, Teacakes and Tarot. Topics discussed include reclaiming Shakespeare, and how to create spaces for queer artists that aren’t just based around explaining things to the cishet crowd. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Q: You have had guests ranging from Jehan Osanyin to Robert O’Hara. How do you select the guests for Teacakes and Tarot, and what has been your favorite thing (or things) you’ve learned from them? 

A: During the first season of Teacakes & Tarot: Conversations with Queer Futurists, I was really excited about highlighting and further excavating conversations that I’ve had in my personal and professional relationships. When I find myself in public conversation with other queer artists, it is often formatted as some sort of panel discussion for the benefit of a majority cis-het audience. I find that I have so much to say in these settings, but it takes so long to get everyone on the same page around basic rhetoric and cultural awareness. So, my co-creator, Erin Murray, and I decided to create a space where I could have intimate and in-depth conversations with the people who inspire me and simply allow the audience to observe. They’ll learn what they learn, and some things may go over their heads. Ultimately, though, we thought the conversations would be more substantive and focus more on how queer and trans folks would structure our industry if we were given the power. So, in season one, I invited a bunch of friends and colleagues to share space with me and shed some light on their personal experiences.

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Your Journalists Are Failing You

I am not a journalist nor should you settle for me.  

On April 15th, Lowell Thomas released a statement citing his reasons for his resignation under duress at Steppenwolf and the theatre community shared it across all social media platforms. No major media outlets paid attention. Two weeks later, on Tuesday April 27th, I compiled an article that included large excerpts of artist statements that had been made individually by Lowell Thomas and Isaac Gomez. The only person who amplified it was Chris Jones, who said Rescripted, aka I, was calling for divestment and dissent, a mischaracterization of the piece as a whole. The hot take is that I am apparently, inciting a riot (I am not). We will unpack how dangerous this is to say about a group of people of color another time. 

Continue reading “Your Journalists Are Failing You”

Divestment and Dissent – Artists Speak Out on Steppenwolf Theatre

Steppenwolf has had internal complaints about equity from their staff of color for years, which began to accelerate after The Great Leap when Deanna Myers’ complaints of harassment on the job went viral on social media. In the past year they have struggled to retain their staff of color for a variety of reasons, many having to do with inhospitable job environments, under-resourced shows, and pay inequity. Recently, two artists affiliated with the theatre have spoken to their journeys of navigating and negotiating with this institution. This article includes all three statements from these artists including the essay published by Isaac Gomez just today.

It is only fair to present these separate and yet deeply related arguments alongside each other, in order to ask ourselves what our path of engagement or divestment may look like. It is not a short read, but diligence is required of those seeking justice. Lowell Thomas served as Video Content Producer and resigned from the company earlier this month. Here, Thomas states his reasoning in his own words, posted on Instagram April 15th:

Steppenwolf Theatre Company has committed itself to inequity. Time has revealed that the leadership of Anna Shapiro, Brooke Flanagan, and Leelai  Demoz betrays the very people who have helped it maintain its renowned status. It smugly ignores the urgency of the We See You White American Theatre Demands and offers only tepid reflection as a response. It buries claims of harassment, racism, and sexism to avoid accountability and real change. There is no redemption for this kind of leadership. It will continue to exploit its artists and staff under the guise of “grit” while clutching its pearls whenever presented with the harm it has inflicted on others.  Continue reading “Divestment and Dissent – Artists Speak Out on Steppenwolf Theatre”

Abolish The Police

Publishing our planned pieces would have felt out of place this week, as we mourn Daunte Wright, yet another Black citizen killed by police. We also honor Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy killed by police here in Chicago. As the inevitable news and social media cycle starts up yet again, it becomes even more blatantly obvious that the only way to stop this is to disarm, defund, and abolish the police. We have seen again and again that police reform does not work, and is in fact often used as an excuse to funnel more money into already huge police budgets. Abolishing the police will not fix systemic racism, and must include other reforms like abolishing prisons — but it is an important first step. If you want to learn more about these ideas, or want to donate to causes that are pushing for this change, we’ve compiled a short list of resources below.

Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police

The “abolish the police” movement, explained by 7 scholars and activists

To All The Black People Killed Before Me

Donate to support Daunte Wright’s family

Donate to the Brave Space Alliance

Donate to My Block, My Hood, My City