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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WHAT WE DO Interview Series: Terry Guest

WHAT WE DO is a visual interview series where we briefly talk to Chicago theatre artists about their art — what they do, why they do it, and what their creative process is like, even as it shifts in the midst of a pandemic. We’ve given each artist 8 written questions, as well as 3 prompts for photographs that capture their current headspace. 

Today we’re hearing from Terry Guest, Chicago-based actor, playwright, and teaching artist. His works have been featured at Story Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Random Acts Chicago, and others.

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WHAT WE DO Interview Series: Brett Neveu

WHAT WE DO is a visual interview series where we briefly talk to Chicago theatre artists about their art — what they do, why they do it, and what their creative process is like, even as it shifts in the midst of a pandemic. We’ve given each artist 8 written questions, as well as 3 prompts for photographs that capture their current headspace. 

Today we hear from Brett Neveu: playwright, professor at Northwestern University, and ensemble member at Red Orchid Theatre.

SELF-CAPTURE: A selfie, self timer portrait, a baby photo, or just a really awesome picture of yourself that you love.

Pre-pandemic, how would you have described your job, in a sentence? How is it different now?
I’m a writer & an educator who educates about writing. Via the previous description of my job, it really hasn’t changed much. Still writing, still educating, but what’s changed is how both are presented. My classes at Northwestern (where I’ve taught since 2012) are remote and all of my theatre/film/TV is either on pause or wiped away entirely. But the core of it, the writing? It’s still churning.

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WHAT WE DO Interview Series: Lavina Jadhwani

WHAT WE DO is a visual interview series where we briefly talk to Chicago theatre artists about their art — what they do, why they do it, and what their creative process is like, even as it shifts in the midst of a pandemic. We’ve given each artist 8 written questions, as well as 3 prompts for photographs that capture their current headspace. 

Today we’re hearing from Lavina Jadhwani, Chicago-based director, adaptor, and activist. She’s directed for Writers Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Remy Bumppo, the side project, and many others.

SELF-CAPTURE: A selfie, self timer portrait, a baby photo, or just a really awesome picture of yourself that you love.

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WHAT WE DO Interview Series: Calamity West

WHAT WE DO is a visual interview series where we briefly talk to Chicago theatre artists about their art — what they do, why they do it, and what their creative process is like, even as it shifts in the midst of a pandemic. We’ve given each artist 8 written questions, as well as 3 prompts for photographs that capture their current headspace. 

We start with Calamity West, Chicago-based award-winning playwright, and professor of playwriting at the University of Chicago and Webster University.

SELF-CAPTURE: A selfie, self timer portrait, a baby photo, or just a really awesome picture of yourself that you love.

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Behind the Curtain: In Conversation with Playwright-Director Monty Cole

On June 4th, as we reported, the four playwrights slotted for this year’s Ignition Festival at Victory Gardens published an open letter withdrawing their plays. On the evening of June 5th, as the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Chicago drew thousands of marchers to the streets, I sat down (virtually) with Monty Cole for a wide ranging discussion of his project-in-progress, BLACK LIKE ME, that had been slated to headline Ignition. We spoke about the play, his progression from director to playwright, and how Radical Empathy is at the core of his work.

The following is a distilled transcription of our wide ranging conversation (minus many minutes of me fan-girling about his recent projects including his flawless BROTHERS SIZE at Steppenwolf for Young Adults, his triumphant INCENDIARY at Goodman New Stages, and the deceptively soapy ‘til it wasn’t KISS at Haven.) 

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