What if Adam and Eve started life in outer space? What if The Holy Spirit was artificial intelligence? What if billionaires were forced to listen to the working class? What if some prominent activists are able to take social risks due to class privilege? What if you had the opportunity to change the lives of those most at risk? These are just a few of the world bending questions that playwright Paul Michael Thomson is posing in his new play, brother sister cyborg space.
At the top of the show, the world is cracked open. We are struck with one extraterrestrial image after another (projections Michael Commendatore), with a silhouetted astronaut waving at us from far, far away upstage. Set pieces (designed by Steven Abbott) move in and out of view revealing new worlds, accompanied by a tectonic, booming aural landscape (sound, Jeffrey Levin). This visual world building by director Terry Guest defines the play’s scope – the use of magical realism signals to us that this will not simply be a living room play. Thomson’s play, brother sister cyborg space creates room for the emotional, the visual, and the visceral. Movement utilized inside the play is essential, whether it comes from the set or the actors, as the intellectual text would be impenetrable without it. Continue reading “a nod to Shaw, ‘brother sister cyborg space’ explores moral responsibility and societal ills”
Antigone, the final installment of Sophocles’ Oedipus cycle translated by Nicholas Rudall, running at Court Theatre reminds us that the Greeks did not know the meaning of “a living room play.” I have spent the early part of the year in rehearsals for my own show, and not seeing many plays. But, if you read my review of The Gospel At Colonus, you know there’s nothing like a Black Greek Tragedy to get me into the streets and back to my other craft of criticism. I love them so much because Greek Tragedies were meant to hold multidisciplinary storytelling approaches such as music, movement, spectacle and text all at once.
This Greek polymathic, multilayered approach to storytelling is picked up by director Gabrielle Randle-Bent in the present day, as visual art, fashion, poetry, vocal arrangements and body percussion work together to give us the emotional experience of Antigone. There is so much to eat in this production. Antigone is a whole meal, and I commend Randle-Bent for serving it up. There are places where it can feel like I’m trying to swallow too much, at times I was frustrated – yet Antigone’s world is frustrating. To me, great art isn’t perfect, but it does make me think, and enjoy the process of wrestling with it and making meaning. I appreciate the risks taken in this production. Without them, I’d have nothing to write about. Continue reading “‘Antigone’ at Court Theatre is a Feast for Theatre Lovers”
Holiday festivities returned to a fever pitch of decked halls and wassailing from Thanksgiving to New Years, as we staved off the deep and pervasive loneliness the pandemic engendered in us all. But after years of seeking out sugarplum-sweet holiday fare, this season I was craving something with a little more punch. So I swapped out Kris Kringle for Alfred Hitchcock.
On Christmas Eve, I watched Jimmy Stewart’s star turn in Hitchcock’s Rear Window instead of It’s a Wonderful Life. I persuaded my family to see Jeffrey Hatcher’s new adaptation of Dial M For Murder at Northlight Theatre, instead of more traditional wintry performances populated by Rat Kings or ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
Absent literal spirits, Dial M For Murder, is delightfully haunting. Running through January 7, it is adroitly directed by Georgette Verdin, straight off of her equally successful thriller Night Watch at Raven Theatre. Verdin is carving out a niche for herself for lovers of mystery plays – and they are having a moment! Continue reading “‘Dial M for Murder’ is an Old Fashioned with a Twist That Packs a Holiday Punch”
Kinnan is an island divided. Metaphorically, folklorically, and, it turns out, literally. When Islander begins, its inhabitants are engaged in a fierce debate over their future. Should they stay on their island and protect their traditional lifestyle, or accept government funds to relocate to the Mainland? Conceived and originally directed by Amy Draper, Islander is a Scottish folk musical that debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019, currently running at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre as part of its WorldStage Series. Continue reading “‘Islander’ is a Sea of Innovative Sound From Across the Atlantic”
Billie Holiday. Judy Garland. Amy Winehouse. The particulars change, but the contours are all too familiar: a talent is discovered, milked for all she’s worth, and then discarded. It’s a story that plays out again in Jim Cartwright’s 1992 The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, revived at the Gift Theatre. Thirty years later, a culture of disposability persists in the entertainment industry, as evidenced by this year’s historic WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, and that disposability undeniably compounds with gender, race, class, and other minoritized identities. Continue reading “‘The Rise and Fall of Little Voice’ at The Gift Theatre is Larger than Life”
Watching The Gospel at Colonus at The Getty Villa is like watching a live resurrection. A theatre piece becomes a fossil on closing day, an antiquity to be dusted off and given new life. Mark J.P. Hood and Charlie Newell have rolled their stone all the way from Chicago, IL to the mountains of Los Angeles, California. It’s a muscular act that requires the utmost attention, and like a resurrection, no one knows quite what to expect. The performers glide gently down the stone steps of the aisles, greeting us individually as the congregation gathers to testify to Theseus’ (Mark Spates Smith) tale of Oedipus. As an audience we feel a sense of comfort and home as we’re encouraged to talk back to the production. We’re a part of the story. Continue reading “The Death of Oedipus and The Departure of Charlie Newell: ‘The Gospel at Colonus’ Heralds The Court Theatre Into a New Age”
In the fallout of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, Lifeline Theatre brings the end of the world to the stage with an adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s timeless cautionary tale, Cat’s Cradle. This 1963 satire follows a freelance writer and his research into the enigmatic life of Dr. Felix Hoenikker. This fictional Nobel Prize-winning scientist, loosely inspired by J. Robert Oppenheimer and Irving Langmuir, is renowned for his pivotal role in the creation of the atomic bomb. As the narrative unfolds, the writer becomes increasingly ensnared in the surreal and apocalyptic consequences stemming from Hoenikker’s final creation. Lifeline Theatre ensemble member John Hildreth’s adaptation of Vonnegut’s classic novel is a relevant retelling amplified by director Heather Currie’s explosive production.
Continue reading “Lifeline Theatre’s Revival of ‘Cat’s Cradle’ Invokes the Atomic Age in Technicolor”
Suspended in front of a blank white slate is a proscenium inside a proscenium (scenic, Andrew Boyce). Two men sit inside, each uniquely unpleasant, each reaching desperately to the other for an emotional connection. Hirst (Jeff Perry), the rich “man of letters” and owner of the decadent home, and Spooner (Mark Ulrich), a random man he met in a bar, proceed to engage in a battle of words. As the scene goes on, I become keenly aware Spooner is taking more than his fair share of the conversation. I seriously thought Spooner was going to grow horns at some point, he’s so whimsical it is hardly trustworthy, but it is fantastic to watch. As Spooner gets more animated, seemingly feeding on Hirst’s apathy, Hirst gets quieter, and harder to understand. I suddenly realize what is happening – he is extremely drunk and slowly shutting down.
Continue reading “The Devil’s in the Walls – No Man’s Land at Steppenwolf Theatre”
The Art of Bowing by Nathan Alan Davis presented by Haven Chicago is an experimental must-see and galvanizing production for anyone uncertain about their role in the performing arts, whether patron or performer. Directed by Haven’s Artistic Director Ian Damont Martin, The Art of Bowing honors and eviscerates the theatre in equal measure, and left me thinking about my role as an artist, critic, and patron in theatre’s survival. Continue reading “Haven Chicago Presents ‘The Art of Bowing’ A Muscular and Engaging Ode to Artists”
This is a testimonial piece by Chicago Theatre Community member Robin Minkens, who had a multi-year experience with Trap Door Theatre, a local storefront theatre. This is a personal experience, from a single perspective. These pieces by their nature, and per our mission, are subjective by intention. *Rescripted has not independently verified the details in this testimonial. The opinions in this piece belong solely to the author.* This is not reporting, but community support. Our aim as always is to amplify those who do not have a platform, and to empower the experience of the artist.
Editor’s Note: Robin came to me through Facebook at the end of April because she had seen my own testimonials on social media. Robin had recorded her experience in a draft, and was wondering if her experience had merit, and if it would be beneficial to share it with others. At that time, she did not know that I was an editor, or of the existence of Rescripted. When I had read the entirety of her story, I was appalled. What captured me about Robin’s testimonial is that it is a story many of us have lived through. Emerging into a professional theatre scene with abundant hopes and dreams, only to encounter prejudice, maltreatment, and gaslighting. The commonalities in this piece are harrowing to me, because they require us to accept that the way we have been working is not ethical. The experiences we have endured are not acceptable. This piece is a death by a thousand paper cuts. I encourage you to read it to the end. This is Part One, and you can access Part Two by clicking this link.
End of 2021: Revelations
October, 2021. At this time, Trap Door was to edit their website. They asked for pictures from projects and any reviews from shows that we would like to include on our profile for us to market ourselves. I was reluctant to submit my materials, considering everything I had experienced up to this point. However, I did eventually decide to submit them. I was so proud of what I had accomplished up to that point, even with the odds being stacked against me. I chose my favorite professional photos with reviews from the shows. I sent in my photos and reviews, and the only piece of my materials that made it to my profile on the website was my bio. I did not get a response to my email with my materials. Beata has yet to return from Poland, gone since 2019. This caused me to deeply inquire about communication practices at Trap Door. Continue reading “Part Four: Common Traps for The Aspiring Artist, A Testimonial at Trap Door Theatre”