Pride is the Prerogative in ‘Ms. Blakk For President’ at Steppenwolf Theatre

Ms. Blakk For President is a world premiere play performed at Steppenwolf Theatre, co-written and directed by Tina Landau and written by Tarell Alvin McCraney. The show is about Chicago’s very own LGBTQ activist Terence Alan Smith,  better known as the drag queen Joan Jett Blakk, who decided to run a political campaign with Act Up and Queer Nation to bring visibility to the Gay community in crisis during the 90s. It’s a pretty unknown story to someone, like me, who was born in the very late 1990s without context on figures who are often censored in our pop culture. Steppenwolf’s lobby dramaturgy does a great job with filling the atmosphere and historical context about the show. The dramaturgy display (Polly Hubbard) is filled with an engaging Chicago timeline that traces Joan Jett Blakk and the AIDS crisis from the 1970s to present today. There are also a few art installations and a memorial to Marsha P. Johnson. Continue reading “Pride is the Prerogative in ‘Ms. Blakk For President’ at Steppenwolf Theatre”

‘Mike Pence Sex Dream’ Takes Morality for a Wild Ride

Mike Pence Sex Dream by Dan Giles at First Floor Theatre, directed by Hutch Pimentel, is a sometimes ruckus sometimes sobering depiction of the weight of capitalism and cancel culture in the face of animal cruelty and neoliberalism. A mouthful right? And yet, it’s shaping up to be one of the hottest, realest show of the season. Continue reading “‘Mike Pence Sex Dream’ Takes Morality for a Wild Ride”

Queer Regency Reigns in ‘I Know My Own Heart’ at Pride Films and Plays

“I know my heart, and have studied mankind; I am not made like anyone I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not better, I at least claim originality, and whether Nature did wisely in breaking the mould with which she formed me, can only be determined after having read this work.”

– Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions (1782)

Queer people, folks who defy expectations and bring vital complexity to life simply by being, have always existed. In every part of the world, wherever there were people, there were also queer people. How these ancestors are remembered, if at all, is a matter of who is telling their story. Directed by Elizabeth Swanson, I Know My Own Heart is drawn from the life of Anne Lister, an early 19th century British landowner and traveller, and told in her  words. It is a ritual of remembering. Continue reading “Queer Regency Reigns in ‘I Know My Own Heart’ at Pride Films and Plays”

Meet The Keys – Lonnae Hickman

Get to know Lonnae Hickman, a recent Alumni of The Key Young Critics Mentorship Program! Each writer wrote a multimedia review about a piece of pop culture currently capturing their imagination that you can read at the end of Lonnae’s profile. We’d like to thank Angelica Jade Bastien at Vulture for sharing her insights on media reviewing with us. Check out more of Lonnae and her cohort’s writing in our Key Reviews section!

Name: Lonnae Hickman

City/State: Originally from Milwaukee, WI, but now in Chicago, IL

Age: 20

Racial / Ethnic Identity: Black/Native American

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation: Cis Queer Woman

Why do you want to write for Rescripted?:
I want to write for Rescripted because I’m dedicated to reviewing all types of theatre, not just the ones in the loop. Rescripted’s mission is working on giving honest and appropriate reviews for shows that are normally left out – shows that I believe are fundamental to Chicago and the theatre world. Continue reading “Meet The Keys – Lonnae Hickman”

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’”

‘Pillowtalk’ Examines Love Under Oppression

Pillowtalk presented at Victory Gardens Theatre was a highly moving, visceral depiction of two complex and vibrant individuals striving to lead successful lives and love one another within the constraints of white supremacist, heteropatriarchal, capitalism. Buck (AJ Moraga) is a print journalist who wants to do “good work” and change the world. Sam (Basit Shittu) is grateful to be employed by the Republicans after losing his shot at being an Olympic swimmer after a public drug scandal. The couple lives in a pricey, one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, NY, represented on stage by a minimalist set built to focus on an untidy, upright bed downstage center. The white apartment walls that flank the bed are creatively represented by two long vertical neon lights connected by a long, horizontal “ceiling” light. Continue reading “‘Pillowtalk’ Examines Love Under Oppression”

Dear White Critics: Stop Being Transphobic!

You may remember my last article in what must now become a series, Dear White Critics: Stop Using the N-Word, when Justin Hayford decided racial slurs were appropriate for a theatre column. Yesterday, Ben Brantley of the New York Times decided it was appropriate to make a joke out of the unveiling of a trans character’s pronouns in the new Broadway musical Head Over Heels’. The character? Oracle and non-binary plural narrator Pythio, portrayed by drag performer Peppermint, who is a trans woman. What’s notable is that it’s the first time a trans actor has ever created a principle role in a Broadway show, and that Pythio is one of a handful of genderqueer characters ever seen on Broadway. Therefore, as a critic, one might think Brantley would use this opportunity to celebrate that fact. Alas, instead he decided to say this: Continue reading “Dear White Critics: Stop Being Transphobic!”

The Spectacle of Suffering in ‘Through the Elevated Line’

 

Set in Chicago, the play centers on the arrival of Razi Gol (Salar Ardebili)  to his sister’s apartment in Uptown, right off of the Lawrence CTA Red Line. Soraya (Catherine Dildilian), Razi’s sister, has been in the United States for more than a decade after leaving her family in Shiraz, Iran to attend school and lives with her white Irish-American husband Chuck (Joshua K. Volkers).   Continue reading “The Spectacle of Suffering in ‘Through the Elevated Line’”

‘We’re Gonna Be Okay’ Makes Sense of Crisis

Note: The pronouns of the characters were used for this review, they do not necessarily reflect the pronouns of the artists.

We’re Gonna Be Okay at American Theater Company by Basil Kreimendahl directed by Will Davis perfectly captures what it feels like to be living in the midst of a crisis. In our current political climate, no matter which side of the debate you find yourself on, there is an undeniable sense of panic as we try to hold on to a life that feels like it’s trying to run away from us. America, a land of unlimited possibility, and paralyzing fear. In Will Davis’ production, that fear is palpable, but it is also accompanied by laughter, love, and hope. Continue reading “‘We’re Gonna Be Okay’ Makes Sense of Crisis”