Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s ‘Songs For A New World’ is a Refreshing and Revivifying Comeback for In-Person Theatre

I arrived at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre about an hour before curtain for Songs For A New World.. I expected to grab my playbill and head to a local shop for a bite to eat before the play. Instead, I was seated at a round table and given a menu. The last time I had been to a live theatre show was February 2020. I let the nostalgia take hold and let myself bask in the quaintness of storefront theatre. I found myself content and satisfied that Songs for a New World, directed by Fred Anzevino, was my first show back.

Featuring a stripped back set (James Kolditz) with only a huge moon to background the performances, Anzevino’s production is an unembellished and sincere approach to a musical that could easily veer into the overwrought.  By focusing on the actors’ chemistry and performances, Anzevino allows for the lyrics and music to take the foreground. The musical lacks a singular plot and neat-and-tidy character development. Instead, each number works as a stand-alone vignette. What ties the numbers together are that each character sings about moments in their lives that have shaped or affected them in significant ways. Whether on the cusp of a happy moment, or on the brink of a devastating tragedy, each number feels like an invitation. “The River Won’t Flow,” by Man 1 (Eustace J. Williams) and Man 2 (Matthew Hunter), reminded me of the moments in my life where I felt like nothing I did would change my bad outcomes, and  “I’d Give It All For You,” sung by Man 2 & Woman 1 (Nora Navarro) reminded me of the loves in my life I could never turn my back on. In the last few months, I’ve only been able to think of all that I’ve lost. This production was an aesthetic prompting of all the life that has been lived and that will be lived in all the futures. Life has been more than this pandemic, and will be more than this pandemic.

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‘Mr. Burns, a post-electric play’ at Theater Wit Finds Power in Escapism

An audience that has been stuck inside our homes for the past year is no stranger to the rewatch. There’s something comforting about revisiting a favorite show, especially when you’ve exhausted anything new that Netflix has to offer. After Disney+ fixed their terrible aspect ratio problem, that show for me was The Simpsons. There are some episodes that I know by heart, and others that I was thrilled to rediscover. There is something about a global collapse that just makes you want to curl up on the couch with your favorite four-fingered family. Theatre Wit takes this desire out of your living room and onto the stage with a colorful revival of Mr. Burns, a post-electric play by Anne Washburn.

Something seismic has happened and the power is gone. Without electricity, modern society crumbles. Survivors who have lost everything work together to salvage the only pieces of their world that remain, the episodes of The Simpsons that they kinda remember. Playwright Anne Washburn, with music by Michael Friedman, explores how stories and pop culture may evolve when society starts over. Washburn roots the script in what is arguably one of the greatest Simpsons episodes of all time: “Cape Fear.” What begins as a few strangers around a fire exchanging punchlines becomes a traveling theatre troupe, which in turn becomes an epic operetta.

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An Open Letter to the Chicago Theatre Community about Metropolis Performing Arts Centre

Last month, Rescripted received an email from an anonymous theatre artist with the subject ‘Time’s Up Metropolis.’ In the email were anecdotes collected from a large number of actors, directors, and various other theatre artists, which spoke of the culture of harassment, intimidation, and unsafe working conditions at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights.

We are currently working on a long-form piece about Metropolis and will be applying our resources to investigate these matters more thoroughly. If you have worked at Metropolis and have a story you would like to share (anonymously or otherwise), please email us directly at rescriptedreviews@gmail.com. If you are a victim seeking community and support, you can also check out the Time’s Up Metropolis Facebook page.

Below is an open letter from Lauren Berman — a long-time director at Metropolis — who offers up her experience in the hopes of bringing these issues into the spotlight.


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Theatre Y’s ‘YOU ARE HERE: The Emerald Camino Project’ is a Radical Reimagination of What Live Theatre Can Be

For Chicago’s theatre community, the past year and a half has been marked by reckoning. As companies postponed shows and shuttered their doors, artists and theatre-goers alike were forced to mourn some of the most fundamental elements of live theatre: shared space, spontaneity, gathering. Now that live arts are beginning to return to Chicago, the question looms: how will theatre companies grow to incorporate the perspective gained over the past year?

Theatre Y’s YOU ARE HERE: The Emerald Camino Project has an ingenious answer: by making the lost experience of gathering the performance itself.

YOU ARE HERE: The Emerald Camino Project is a month-long series of ambulatory performances held across twelve neighborhoods connected by Chicago’s Emerald Necklace in the South and West Sides. The performance itself feels like a delightful cross between a walking tour, a chaperoned blind date, and an immersive art piece. Before setting out, each participant is paired with a stranger and a Theatre Y actor. The actor guides the two through the walk and facilitates conversation between the two. Led by actor Haman Cross III, the groups walk through the neighborhood, visiting landmarks, listening to presentations by community leaders, and enjoying performances by local artists (in North Lawndale, the performers were high-school-aged rapper Marcus Quinn Jackson and Willie Round, a.k.a. Prince Roc, a rapper and poet gifted with a resonant bass voice). Continue reading “Theatre Y’s ‘YOU ARE HERE: The Emerald Camino Project’ is a Radical Reimagination of What Live Theatre Can Be”

‘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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‘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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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. 

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Victory Gardens’ Incoming Artistic Director Ken-Matt Martin on Leadership and The Road Ahead

Victory Gardens Theater  has found its new Artistic Director in the multi-hyphenate and accomplished producer Ken-Matt Martin (he/him/his). Chicago artists may know him best as the Associate Producer at The Goodman, where he co-created and curated the Future Labs new play development program with Jonathan Green and Quenna Barrett. Regionally, Martin’s resume is just as impressive, beginning with his co-founding of Pyramid Theatre Company in Des Moines, IA, a company inspired by the Black Arts Movement. He served as Pyramid’s Executive Director until 2018, and it is there where his aesthetic compatibility to Chicago becomes clear. At Pyramid, Martin directed Ike Holter’s Prowess, and produced Hooded: Or Being Black for Dummies, both shows that ran to great success at Chicago companies. He then put his skills to action to national acclaim as the Producing Director of Williamstown Theatre Festival where he produced the revivals of Raisin in the Sun directed by Robert O’Hara, Ghosts starring Uma Thurman, and numerous other world premieres. 

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Rescripted Launches Patreon, Announces Community Funding Model

Big news: We are launching an official Rescripted Patreon! As of 2021, Rescripted is restructuring financially so that we are funded by you, our community. All of our reviews, essays, and other content are free to access, and our site is ad-free. Our Patreon is a way for you to support us so we can continue advancing our work: giving artists agency in their critical process, and reshaping our field from a place of empathy, justice, and accessibility — as well as paying ourselves and our writers a decent wage.

Some of the perks and benefits we’ll be offering include:

  • The Weekly Digital Roundup, a summary of the most exciting digital theatre happening online curated by our Assistant Editor Aaron Lockman. This is the same list that gets sent to our writers, so you get the scoop at the same time our writers do!
  • Our monthly Patron-only newsletter, featuring exclusive content such as artist profiles, a letter from the Editors, interviews, and behind-the-scenes access.
  • Credit on the Rescripted website as one of our top donors.
  • And at the highest level, exclusive access to the monthly Rescripted Podcast, where Chief Editor Regina Victor and Assistant Editor Aaron Lockman discuss the hottest topics in Chicago theatre.

Thank you so much for your support, both as we move into this new crowd-funded era, and over the last three years. Please go support us on Patreon if you can!

A Straightforward Monologue About Grief: ‘The Catastrophist’ at Marin Theatre Company and Round House Theatre

The Catastrophist, written by Lauren M. Gunderson, is a filmed one-man play about the playwright’s husband Nathan (William DeMeritt). Gunderson’s non-fiction drama introduces us to this epidemiologist who has devoted his entire life to the study of pandemics, also known as the massive cultural event we’re all currently stuck inside. One might then expect The Catastrophist to be a play about science — but it ends up being a play about death, and grief, and how to live with the inherent unpredictability of the world even as you strive to predict it.

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