Photo: Lara Goetsch
The hubbub in the men’s restroom at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater a couple years ago was highly energized. During intermission of J.T. Rogers’ “Blood and Gifts,” a thriller of overseas political intrigue reflecting America’s early role in present-day Middle Eastern affairs, the matinée audience was abuzz with verbal crossfire and indignation.
Some decried the play as anti-American, while others refused to embrace its representation of American arms sales to Afghan fighters in the struggle with the Soviet Union during the 1980s. Despite their misgivings over Rogers’ history, factually uncontroversial as it may be, I was tickled pink to hear a bathroom back-and-forth about the play’s content rather than its quality. “Blood and Gifts” has the piss and vinegar to provoke such fevered responses, being refreshingly aggressive during a playwriting era in which nuances have nuances. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Lara Goetsch
How we relay history has been forever changed by photography and video. Walk into any American classroom today, collegiate or otherwise, and you’ll doubtless find projected YouTube clips and imagery-laden PowerPoint presentations as essential to the syllabus as the course’s textbook.
Why not? The educational opportunities photography affords are bountiful and, given the rapid expansion of the internet, easy to access. Yes, there is a great deal of knowledge to be reaped from pictures and video, while keeping in mind that, like written-down investigative journalism or an essay, the camera has a bias all its own. Read the rest of this entry »
Though we publish a list of “players” every year, we alternate between those whose accomplishments are most visible on-stage (the artists, last year) and those who wield their influence behind the curtain (this year). Not only does this allow us to consider twice as many people, but it also puts some temporal distance between the lists. So, the last time we visited this cast of characters, two years ago, we were celebrating the end of the Richard M. Daley years in Chicago, fretting over a nation seemingly in the mood for a Tea Party and contemplating the possibility of a Latter Day Saint in the White House. Today, we’ve got a dancer in the mayor’s office, the most prominent Mormons are in a chorus line at the Bank of America Theatre and the Tea Cup runneth dry. Call us cockeyed optimists, but things sure look better from here. And so, meet the folks who, today, bring us the best theater, dance, comedy and opera in the nation.
Written by Zach Freeman, Brian Hieggelke, Sharon Hoyer and Johnny Oleksinski
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Nate Burger/Photo: Lara Goetsch
It’s always exciting to see a fresh play by a local author. Even more so when that play is executed as finely as TimeLine Theatre Company’s production of Susan Felder’s “Wasteland.” Performed nearly as a one-man show, “Wasteland” is the story of Joe, a U.S. soldier in Vietnam, who’s captured and confined to an underground cell. After months of solitude, Joe begins to hear the voice of Riley, a new prisoner, on the other side of the wall. An unlikely friendship sparks between the two MIA soldiers as they relate the stories of their lives and bicker over the bleak reality of their plight.
What Felder’s dialogue occasionally lacks in substance is more than compensated for in moments of grueling stage direction. Before the first lines are even spoken, the audience is given a lengthy glimpse at the everyday torture of being trapped in a hole and the desperate means it takes to stay sane in such conditions. As the ninety-minute play unfolds, you’re shown, rather than told, the waves of psychosis Joe and Riley go through in their insurmountable situation. Eventually the physical evidence of hopelessness becomes unbearable to watch as filthy water and grime collect on Joe’s clothes and body. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Lara Goetsch
The character with the most dialogue in Moisés Kaufman’s “33 Variations” does not utter a single word—Music. Personified in TimeLine Theatre Company’s Chicago premiere production by a stationary pianist, every transition is accompanied by live piano and occasionally the gifted and stoic George Lepauw will underscore a scene. And yet, though purposely placed center stage by director Nick Bowling, the piano lends little to the play outside of informational context.
In the same manner author Dan Brown simplified and manipulated centuries of art history into thriller fodder for “The Da Vinci Code,” so too does playwright Kaufman dumb down music here to achieve his own popular entertainment. However, when the life of the play’s main character revolves around Beethoven and his compositions, forcing the music to the third chair strips away her soul. Not to mention her likability. Read the rest of this entry »
TIMELINE THEATRE COMPANY ANNOUNCES 2012-13 SEASON
Chicago, IL — TimeLine Theatre Company, named one of the nation’s top 10 emerging theatre companies (American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards®, 2011) and Chicago’s “Best Theatre” (Chicago magazine, 2011), announces its four-play 2012-13 season. TimeLine is dedicated to presenting plays inspired by history that connect to today’s social and political issues, and its upcoming season includes one world premiere and three Chicago premieres. Read the rest of this entry »
Bret Tuomi as Jeffrey Skilling/Photo: Lara Goetsch
Jeffrey Skilling (Bret Tuomi) comes to Enron with new ideas: mark-to-market accounting, electricity trading. The company makes fistfuls of cash and causes fatal, rolling blackouts in California. But it’s not just Skilling’s ideas that are scandalous; it’s that everyone (Enron lawyers and accountants, the financial industry) lets him get away with it. Read the rest of this entry »
David Parkes and Janet Ulrich Brooks/Photo: Lara Goetsch
In 1982, American arms negotiator Paul Nitze and his Soviet counterpart Yuli Kvitsinsky made a radical break from sit-down nuclear negotiations in Geneva by taking a walk in the woods of Switzerland, where they hashed out a new proposal that they would bring back to their respective governments. This event is the basis for Lee Blessing’s 1986 play, which still resonantly reflects the hazards of the technological advancement of destruction outbalancing humanity’s essential desire for peace. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s the press release from Theater Wit:
THEATER WIT ANNOUNCES 2011-12 SEASON, PLUS CHICAGO’S FIRST NETFLIX-LIKE LIVE THEATER MEMBERSHIP PROGRAM
Become a Theater Wit Member, see the company’s Chicago debuts of Jason Wells’ The North Plan, Kim Rosenstock’s Tigers Be Still, David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries, plus Chicago’s most diverse slate of off-Loop plays and musicals, whenever you like, as often as you like
CHICAGO, July 20, 2011 – Theater Wit Artistic Director Jeremy Wechsler has been busy pinning down the company’s 2011-2012 season line-up, which boasts the Chicago premiere of Jason Wells’ spine tingling apocalyptic drama The North Plan, the Midwest debut of Kim Rosenstock’s hot new dark comedy Tiger Be Still, plus the return of Chicago’s favorite alt-holiday comedy, The Santaland Diaries. Read the rest of this entry »
PJ Powers/Photo: Lara Goetsch
In the first act of “The Front Page,” one of the fast-talking newspapermen condemns his own kind as “a cross between a bootlegger and a whore.” The depiction of reporters as salty, drunken rascals is a huge indicator of how unfamiliar the golden age of newspapers can be to today’s audiences. With the iPad, blogs and Twitter overtaking print journalism, the typical reporter is, well, anyone with internet access. Playwrights Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur wrote the play at a time when the editor’s controversial voice was the reason you picked it up, and TimeLine sells its own production on the strength of its personalities too.
Artistic Director PJ Powers plays Hildy Johnson, ace reporter for a leading Chicago paper whose resignation happens to coincide with the contentious, scheduled hanging of a man convicted of murdering a black policeman. But when things go wrong, they go really wrong, and it’s a testament to the bottomless energy of the huge Powers-led cast that the freight-train plot never loses momentum or derails. Collette Pollard’s set immerses the audience in a close replica of a 1920s Chicago press room, Lindsey Pate’s costumes pop, and Nick Bowling’s direction makes short work of two-and-a-half hours’ worth of gallows humor. (Neal Ryan Shaw)
At TimeLine Theatre Company, 615 West Wellington, (773)281-8463. Through July 17.