WBEZ | actor http://www.wbez.org/tags/actor Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Improviser finds purpose in Chicago police mental health crisis trainings http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/improviser-finds-purpose-chicago-police-mental-health-crisis-trainings-111274 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 141219 Clark Weber.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In 2004, the Chicago Police Department implemented a voluntary training program to deal with mental health emergencies.</p><p>Today, Chicago has the <a href="http://www.namichicago.org/documents/cit_advocacy_sheet.pdf" target="_blank">largest crisis intervention training program in the world</a>, according to Alexa James, Executive Director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)-Chicago.</p><p>Clark Weber is an essential part of the crisis intervention training. In this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps, Weber describes how he found himself in the greatest role of his life.</p><p>After moving to Chicago in the late 1980s, Weber studied improv at Second City. He loves acting, whether it&rsquo;s theater, television or film. But Weber struggled with depression and suicidal tendencies too. He was diagnosed as bipolar and spent four-and-a-half weeks at a state mental hospital before moving into a group home with Thresholds, a non-profit that assists people with mental illness.</p><p>&ldquo;When I came to Thresholds,&rdquo; Weber said, &ldquo;they had a theater arts program &ndash; which now unfortunately is defunct - and I was told that we have this opportunity to role play with Chicago police to make them aware and see what a real mental health crisis is like.&rdquo;</p><p>Weber soon found himself in the middle of the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training program, roleplaying as a person in distress.</p><p>The role-playing can be intense, Weber said. &ldquo;Officers have play weapons and a real Taser, which is non-functioning. And instead of using force, they try to talk us down. And we have total freedom to insult the police officers. We have total freedom to swear at them, to make it as real as possible.&rdquo;</p><p>If officers feel &ldquo;that the Taser needs to be used, they&rsquo;ll just point it towards us and say, &lsquo;Taser. Taser. Taser.&rsquo; So we&rsquo;re fake-Tased and then we discuss why the officer feels he or she had to do that.&rdquo;</p><p>Pastor Fred Kinsey is a member of ONE Northside, a group that this past year helped get police to increase the number of officers able to go through CIT training. &ldquo;If you have tools to recognize people in crisis, to know what kinds of medications people are on, that helps,&rdquo; Kinsey said. Chicago Police recently doubled the number of officers who are able to receive CIT training each year, Kinsey said. But that doubling of officers - from 200 to 400 officers each year &ndash; is small compared to the number of officers who don&rsquo;t take the training. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d like to see the majority, if not all, officers trained,&rdquo; Kinsey said. The biggest impediment to expanding the training program, he said, is not so much financial, but the time costs of taking officers off the street.</p><p>For Clark Weber, the experience has been transformative. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not saying every day&rsquo;s gonna be a good day, or every day&rsquo;s gonna be a great day. Being bipolar I do have my ups and downs. But I run into officers that I&rsquo;ve helped train or they&rsquo;ve been in a class and they&rsquo;ve watched the videos. And I&rsquo;ve had officers come up to me and said, &lsquo;Because of you I helped save this person&rsquo;s life. Or I helped this person get the treatment that they needed.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s very empowering,&rdquo; Weber says. &ldquo;For the first time in my life, I feel I have a purpose. I have a place in the world.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/improviser-finds-purpose-chicago-police-mental-health-crisis-trainings-111274 Morning Shift: How can the Web be a better and safer place? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-23/morning-shift-how-can-web-be-better-and-safer-place <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Internet-Flickr-Asimetrica Juniper.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Web and social media can be used to spark positive, social chance. But it can also be plagued by bullies and trolls intent on bringing you down. We talk pros and cons of the Web and strategies to make it a safer place.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-dennis-farina-aldermanic-privilege-a.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-dennis-farina-aldermanic-privilege-a" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: How can the Web be a better and safer place? " on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 23 Jul 2013 08:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-23/morning-shift-how-can-web-be-better-and-safer-place Young actors: Step up to the plate http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/young-actors-step-plate-101033 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/merchant%20of%20venice%20first%20folio%20theater.jpg" title="Young actors just out of school play six of the 19 roles in First Folio’s ‘Merchant of Venice.’ (Courtesy of First Folio)" /></div><p>Wednesday night I trucked out to see <em>The Merchant of Venice</em>, at the annual outdoor Shakespeare festival presented by First Folio Theatre at Mayslake Forest Preserve in Oak Brook, Ill. I enjoyed this handsomely-designed and engagingly-acted production very much, until the show was cancelled at intermission due to approaching violent storms. Lucky for me, I know how the play ends.</p><p>Most Shakespeare plays require a large cast, and the program for <em>Merchant</em> listed 19 actors. Combing through the credits, I found that six of the 19 either graduated from university acting programs within the last two years or still are in school. None of the six yet has a union card from Actors Equity Association (which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year).</p><p>This is one of the finest characteristics of Chicago theater. Our Off-Loop and Off-off-Loop companies abound with embryonic talent; kids just out of school or soon-to-be. Our larger institutional theaters, too, often engage early-career actors. Once upon a time, I was one of those kids myself acting for peanuts in the seminal Off-Loop troupes of Lincoln Avenue, among them Kingston Mines Theatre Company, the Body Politic, Pary Productions and Del Close&#39;s Chicago Extension improvisational company.</p><p>Thinking of then and thinking of now, this is the<em> perfect</em> time to be a young actor. So, yeah, sure, the global economy sucks, we&#39;re in a depression (don&#39;t buy the nonsense that it&#39;s only a recession) and if the Eurozone totally melts down we&#39;ll really be in the crapper. But what the hell? When has it <em>ever</em> been a <em>good</em> time for a career in the arts? Actors are perpetually under-employed even in the best of economies &mdash; it&#39;s one of the occupational facts of life &mdash; and a sour economy does not substantially offer <em>less</em> employment or less opportunity for employment.</p><p>So go for it.</p><p>Fact is, electronic, digital, online and video media offer more employment for actors than ever before. From voices for video games, to the explosion of cable TV shows (just think how many actors the Discovery Channel and the History Channel employ), to self-produced internet programs and serials, to direct-to-disc movies, the entertainment industry is exploding with new ways for actors to act in addition to the familiar categories of commercials and voice-overs, TV, film and theater. Yes, much of it is shallow, formulaic and sometimes amateurish; and much of it &mdash; perhaps most of it &mdash; is not covered by actors union contracts (Equity, SAG-AFTRA), so the possibilities of being underpaid, exploited, ripped-off and/or sleazed are very real, but this blog column isn&#39;t a business lesson.</p><p>Compared to many of these, live theater may be the worst way to make a living, and I use the words &quot;make a living&quot; with great reservation. In Los Angeles, a newbie actor can appear at an Equity Waiver theater and earn nothing but car fare for professional work, often with established veteran actors. Difference is, the established veterans can afford to indulge their passion for live art, but the starter-out still is eating beans. On the other hand, a newcomer also can find himself/herself on a soap or a series making several thousand dollars a week.</p><p>The difference in Chicago is no one becomes rich here from any type of acting, whether you&#39;re working at Steppenwolf or the Goodman or a neighborhood storefront theater. Chicago is not the town where you make a killing or become a star; it&#39;s the town where you hone your chops, stretch yourself and practice your craft. And, with over 220 producing theater companies, the odds are <em>much</em> better here than in New York or Los Angeles of your landing a role and actually honing, stretching and practicing; witness those six young&#39;uns in <em>The Merchant of Venice</em>.</p><p>So, young actors, give it a whirl. No matter if you act for little or no money as long as shoes still need to be sold, hash still needs to be slung, dogs still need to be walked and temp work still is available. Keep in mind that the cost of living in Chicago still is considerably less than in NYC or L.A. Even more important, audiences here are sharper, more receptive to the new and better-informed than just about anywhere else. The lesson from that is to hold yourself to a high standard of craft and intelligence, and to take risks. If not you, who? If not now, when? If not here, where?</p></p> Fri, 20 Jul 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/young-actors-step-plate-101033 Christine Provost named new chief of actor's union http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-09/christine-provost-named-new-chief-actors-union-93879 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-09/5143096520_147db05f05.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/5143096520_147db05f05.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 300px; height: 300px; " title="(Flickr/Seth Anderson)">It will be a smooth transition for the <a href="http://www.actorsequity.org/aboutequity/central.asp">Chicago office of Actors Equity Association</a>, with long-time high-level staffer Christine Provost named to succeed Kathryn V. Lamkey as Central Regional Director/Assistant Executive Director, effective January 1. Lamkey is retiring after 25 years with the union of actors and stage managers.</p><p>Provost, who has a law degree from Northwestern University, joined the Chicago office of Equity in 1996 after earlier work in litigation with a large law firm. She began as a business representative, was promoted to senior business rep and assumed responsibilities for supervising all contractual matters in the Central Region, which is headquartered in Chicago. She assisted Lamkey in the management of the office, trained new hires on Equity policies and procedures and served as second chair in national, regional and local negotiations.</p><p>As Central Regional Director, Provost will oversee the administration of all categories of Equity contracts for the region—which covers 15 states from the Dakotas to Ohio and Louisiana—and serve as Chief Negotiator for several of them.&nbsp;She will supervise a staff of 20 and be responsible for the overall operation of the Central Regional office. At the national level, as an Assistant Executive Director, Provost will be an integral part of the union’s executive team to develop strategies and standards consistent with Equity’s vision, mission and goals.&nbsp;</p><p>In addition to her post at Equity, Provost serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Chicago Entertainment Industry Labor Council (I’ll bet ya’ didn’t know there was one) and guest lectures at Columbia College.&nbsp;</p><p>The good news here is that Equity has promoted from within rather than bringing in a non-Chicagoan to take over this very important office, a mistake the union made in the past. Those with long memories—me—recall the Central Region chief brought in from New York in the 1970’s who was too inflexible to create Equity contracts, or adapt existing ones, that would nurture the then-nascent Off-Loop Theater movement. His successor (and Lamkey’s direct predecessor), Tad Currie, did precisely that, creating the first Chicago Area Theatre (CAT) contract about 30 years ago; an agreement that allowed extensive unionization of Off-Loop Theater and became a model for numerous similar contracts across the country.</p><p>The CAT contract remains the heart of local theater vigor, being the collective bargaining agreement used by the Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Victory Gardens and Lookingglass theater companies as well as dozens of smaller troupes. Year in and year out, it provides more Equity work weeks than any other contract category and serves as the main barometer of local theater industry health.</p><p>Largely because of the CAT contract (although not exclusively because of it), the Central Region always generates work week totals out of all proportion to its percentage of Equity members. Equity, which celebrates its 100<sup>th</sup> anniversary in 2013, has 49,000 members nationwide of whom only 8%-9% live in the Central Region. Nonetheless, the region generates between 14% and 16% of Equity’s annual work weeks.</p><p>The Central Region also has some of America’s most important regional theaters, among them the Guthrie (Minneapolis), Milwaukee Repertory, Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Players Theatre (Spring Green, WI), Cleveland Playhouse, the Kansas City Repertory and the Goodman.</p></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 13:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-09/christine-provost-named-new-chief-actors-union-93879 Jim Gaffigan brings the laughs back home to Indiana http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-03/jim-gaffigan-brings-laughs-back-home-indiana-90054 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-03/allmedia_img.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Comedian and actor <a href="http://www.jimgaffigan.com/index.shtml" target="_blank">Jim Gaffigan</a> has a lot of voices. Not impressions of famous types--just voices–all&nbsp; funny! The laid-back-yet-gregarious onstage persona,&nbsp; the voice of his wife and he frequently mimics a disapproving audience member. The Hoosier will perform a pair of shows at the <a href="http://tickets-center.com/ResultsVenue.aspx?event=Jim+Gaffigan&amp;vname=The+Venue+at+Horseshoe+Casino&amp;venid=8969&amp;nid=1&amp;ppcsrc=1-HY-The+Venu-Jim+Gaffi&amp;sortcol=retail&amp;sortord=asc&amp;dist=GS&amp;uq=jim%20gaffigan%20tour&amp;cid=7429623275&amp;gclid=CLrR4qy9s6oCFQ7MKgodVTY89Q" target="_blank">Horseshoe Casino</a> in Hammond, Indiana on Saturday, Aug. 13. But first, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> corralled him for a chat on his comedy and Midwestern roots.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Music Button: Chris Joss, "Magic Tubes", from the CD Teraphonic Overdubs, (ESL)</em></p></p> Wed, 03 Aug 2011 15:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-03/jim-gaffigan-brings-laughs-back-home-indiana-90054 Hey, you! Actor! Part II: Are you Stanley Kowalski? http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-21/hey-you-actor-part-ii-are-you-stanley-kowalski-88128 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-21/5194116_gal.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-21/5194116_gal.jpg" title="Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'" height="462" width="372"></p><p>I had such a good time last week annoying blogger "2AM" with my comments on actors who don't project that I thought I'd try to annoy 2AM again this week with Hey, you! Actor! Part II.</p><p>My rant this week ain't about hearing, it's about seeing actors' undershirts; specifically, seeing t-shirts under costumes. Here's the deal: unless you are playing Stanley Kowalski in <em>A Streetcar Named Desire</em>, I don't want to see your t-shirt. If you're playing Stanley, it's OK because he's supposed to be wearing a t-shirt. But if you are playing, say, Prince Hamlet or Torvald Helmer (Nora's husband in Ibsen's <em>A Doll House</em>) in a period-accurate production, I don't want to see your t-shirt under your costume&nbsp; because there WEREN'T ANY T-SHIRTS in the time periods during which<em> Hamlet</em> and <em>A Doll House</em> take place.</p><p>There is something in theater called verisimilitude or the appearance of truth and reality. Very broadly speaking, the thrust of theater (or at least drama vs. musical theater) in Western Civilization roughly since Shakespeare has been towards greater and greater realism made possible by the creation of indoor theaters, the development of sensitive artificial sources of illumination, the design of realistic scenery (especially the box set) and the Chekhovian break-through of psychological realism and subtext. I say thank God for all that or we never would have had Neil Simon.</p><p>Be that as it may, it's very easy to destroy verisimilitude with a glaring and unintended anachronism, and NOTHING destroys verisimilitude more quickly than seeing Hamlet remove his doublet for the fencing match only to reveal the outline of a 21st Century t-shirt under his linen. Ditto, Torvald Helmer when he removes his outer suit coat to slap Nora around.</p><p>But one need not go back to the 19th Century and earlier to commit the Sin of the T-Shirt. Until the post-World War II period, the t-shirt was used as an undergarment only by the military (ex-servicemen played a huge role in popularizing it). So it's equally jarring to see a man (or, yes, sometimes a woman) reveal a t-shirt under a dress shirt or blouse in a play by Noel Coward or Eugene O'Neill.</p><p>I've had this discussion before with actors, and they don't disagree with my theoretical thinking or my facts (indeed, they cannot) but they take issue with me on the practical grounds that actors sweat and t-shirts protect the costumes and reduce smells. Well, I hope actors sweat! I don't want them phoning in their performances, and I want them to speak loud enough for me to hear them!</p><p>I never have said that actors should not wear undershirts; what I say is that they should take care that audiences don't SEE them. Make sure that the outer layer is heavy enough to render the t-shirt invisible. Or they can wear period-appropriate, historically-accurate undergarments! Both of these solutions require the cooperation of the costume designer, of course. Indeed, the costume designers (and astute directors) can and should make certain this problem doesn't arise in the first place.</p><p>Another solution is to clean or wash the costumes frequently and skip the t-shirts. Indeed, many Actors Equity Association contracts require that so-called "skin parts" are laundered nightly, although smaller theaters and non-Equity troupes are not held to the same standard. You don't catch the T-Shirt Syndrome when you see a production at the Goodman Theatre or Chicago Shakespeare Theater or a touring Broadway show such as <em>Wicked</em>.</p><p>I know, I know: 2AM or someone is going to say "Jonathan, where is your willing suspension of disbelief? Where is your imagination?" Hey, I'm a theater critic; I don't have an imagination.</p><p>Bottom line: this is an easy thing to fix and it costs little or nothing to do it if costume designers include underwear as part of their concept for period productions. But if they don't, hey, you, actor! Have enough pride in your hard work to be aware of it yourself, and don't let a t-shirt give your characterization the lie.</p></p> Tue, 21 Jun 2011 17:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-21/hey-you-actor-part-ii-are-you-stanley-kowalski-88128