WBEZ | Timeline Theatre http://www.wbez.org/tags/timeline-theatre Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Murder most foul but fantastical in Middle America, grim reality for Vietnam POWs http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/murder-most-foul-fantastical-middle-america-grim-reality-vietnam-pows <p><div style="font-family: arial; font-size: small; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6628_Wasteland_087-scr%20%281%29.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px; " title="Nate Burger in TimeLine Theatre's 'Wasteland' (Courtesy of the theater)" /></div><div style="font-family: arial; font-size: small; ">&nbsp;</div><div><u><em>Wasteland</em>,<a href="http://timelinetheatre.com">&nbsp;TimeLine Theatre Company</a>, 615 West Wellington (at Broadway), 773-281-TIME,&nbsp;Wednesdays-Sundays through December 30, $32-$42</u></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>William Brown&#39;s unsentimental direction makes the world premiere of Susan Felder&#39;s two-man play &mdash; one man onstage, one man a disembodied voice &mdash; a relentlessly intense experience, turning those black POW-MIA flag from an abstraction into flesh-and-blood reality. Two guys named Joe find themselves in neighboring cells (or, rather, underground tiger-cages) and come to rely on each other as the sole source of sanity in an apparently endless captivity. Nate Burger captures the visible Joe&#39;s desperation with every move, word and gesture, while Steve Haggard gives a fully realized performance with just his voice, making the invisible Joe his brother&#39;s keeper and tormentor in equal measure. Sartre&#39;s <em>No Exit</em> has nothing on this: you won&#39;t breathe for the entire show, or for several hours afterwards. A truly extraordinary experience.&nbsp;&ndash;KK</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><u><em>Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play</em>, <a href="http://strangetree.org">The Strange Tree Group</a> at Signal Ensemble Theatre, 1802 West Berenice in Lakeview,&nbsp;<a href="tel:773-598-8240" target="_blank" value="+17735988240">773-598-8240</a>,&nbsp;Wednesdays-Sundays through November 18, $25</u></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We don&#39;t need no stinkin&#39; . . .&quot; Halloween! That must surely be the cry of the Strange Tree Group, whose work is spooky at any time of year, as well as fanciful, allusive and designed to the nines. Here the Group revives Artistic Director Emily Schwartz&#39;s 2006 tale of a family wrenched apart by a remembered murder, because everyone remembers it differently. Imagine Rashomon in middle America &mdash; albeit a deeply skewed version of middle America. Scott Davis&#39;s scenic design conjures up the attic refuge of Alvin, the son who knows the truth but is determined to hide out from it. As absorbing to watch as it is impossible to describe, <em>Funeral Wedding</em> is equal parts creepy and spooky, mysterious and ooky, plus a heaping helping of charming. &nbsp;&ndash;KK</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><u><em>The Burnt Park Boys</em>, <a href="http://griffintheatre.com">Griffin Theatre Company</a> at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont; 773-975-8150; $25 previews (through Nov. 10) then $36; runs through Dec. 22</u><br /><br />West Virginia has been in the news as a major snow dump, courtesy of Storm Sandy. It&#39;s also the setting for the Chicago premiere of <em>The Burnt Part Boys</em>, a 2006 musical about two young, rural WVA boys, circa 1962, who go on a quest. It&#39;s the sort-of thing Griffin Theatre does very well, frequently merging strong storylines and adolescent angst with sometimes-comic and sometimes-serious intent. This show&mdash;described as family-friendly&mdash;concerns the teenage sons of a coal miner killed in a mining accident, so I&#39;d guess the tone is serious but warm-hearted. Jonathan Berry, a Griffin veteran, is the director for The Burnt Part Boys, which features a blue grass-influenced musical score. FYI: Griffin is in the process of converting a former police station in Andersonville into a permanent company home. Until then, they remain an itinerant troupe. &ndash;JA<br /><br /><u><em>Long Day&#39;s Journey Into Night</em>, <a href="http://eclipsetheatre.com">Eclipse Theatre Company</a> at The Athenaeum, 2934 N. Southport; 773-935-6875; $28; runs through Dec. 9</u><br /><br />Eugene O&#39;Neill would not allow this autobiographical play to be published or performed in his lifetime, having ripped it out of his heart and soul in 1941. Eye-witnesses remarked that O&#39;Neill would exit his little writing cottage with tears streaming from his eyes. <em>Long Day&#39;s Journey Into Night</em> is from his mature years as a man and writer. As such, it stuns with deep compassion as much as it stings with the truth of O&#39;Neill&#39;s conflicted, guilt-ridden family circle. In New London, CT you can visit the small house facing the ocean where the play is set (now an O&#39;Neill museum) and understand the claustrophobia of its creaking floorboards and narrow corridors. Eclipse Theatre Company has devoted its 2012 season to O&#39;Neill and concludes with his greatest play, presented in a space as intimate as the O&#39;Neill house itself. Eclipse artistic director Nathaniel Swift puts it all together. The play is long&mdash;four acts&mdash;and every minute is essential if you are to understand the love and pain of the four haunted Tyrones (the O&#39;Neills). &ndash;JA</div></p> Thu, 01 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/murder-most-foul-fantastical-middle-america-grim-reality-vietnam-pows Which hits harder, writing or performance? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/which-hits-harder-writing-or-performance-99180 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/town.jpg" title=""></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/john-conroy-chicago-police-torture-take-centerstage-99121">In our conversation yesterday about <em>My Kind of Town</em></a>, Steve Edwards raised the question why the staged version of Chicago’s police torture scandal affected audiences so much more, and more viscerally, than written accounts of the scandal.&nbsp; There’s the physical presence of theater, of course, in which characters are embodied by real humans who breathe and sweat and pick bits of lint off their clothing, and whether these characters are foul-mouthed criminals or sadistic cops, we can’t help but recognize them as fellow members of our species.&nbsp; And there’s a play’s ability to tell two stories simultaneously and allow the audience to draw parallels and infer equivalences that might not otherwise have occurred to them; while a newspaper story that tries to tell two stories simultaneously will be either a muddle or an exercise in pedantry: first look at this, now look at this, now look back again.<br><br>But there’s a more contemporary reason why encountering the Burge torture case onstage (however concealed) is more powerful than encountering it in newsprint.&nbsp; That’s the technological change which has rendered newspapers nearly obsolete while simultaneously making performances more widely accessible than ever before.<br><br>What is there today that everybody reads the way “everybody” (a wide swath of people of a particular age and social class across the city) read the Chicago <em>Reader</em> in the 1980s?&nbsp; Nothing.&nbsp; Everybody picked up the <em>Reader</em> to get the movie and music listings, if for no other reason, and perhaps the 17th time the cover story was about police torture even the most determinedly obtuse reader might have felt compelled to take a look.&nbsp; But that sort of consensus forum no longer exists, and the consensus fora of the future have yet to make themselves known.&nbsp; So John Conroy’s fine reporting may be being emulated right now by a writer with another terrific (or horrific) story to tell –but only the 12 people who read her blog will know about it.<br><br>Whereas theater, long the most local of art forms, can now be shared worldwide if there’s someone around with a video camera.&nbsp; Actors’ Equity will prevent broadcast for profit of a show in which its members work, but union rules may not cover free broadcast of a matter of significance.&nbsp; If the Metropolitan Opera can present its operas on movie screens, then Chicago theaters can probably share their own creativity with anyone with an Internet connection.<br><br>So there are two questions: why staged work feels so much more intense than written work, and which is more likely to get the kind of widespread concentrated attention that finally brought the police torture scandal to Mayor Daley’s doorstep.&nbsp; The answer to the first question is unchanged from the days of Greek theater (catharsis, anyone?), but the answer to the second is very much in flux.&nbsp; If the theater now has the potential to become the Living Newspaper the WPA people dreamed of, then maybe the media landscape isn’t the howling wilderness we fear.&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 15 May 2012 15:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/which-hits-harder-writing-or-performance-99180 Daily Rehearsal: New season line-ups from Remy Bumppo and Timeline http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-01/daily-rehearsal-new-season-line-ups-remy-bumppo-and-timeline-96877 <p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>1. News from the Lyric Opera</strong></span></span>: they're&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/chicagos-lyric-turns-best-seller-opera-96819">commissioning a new opera based on a best-selling book</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>2. Remy Bumppo has announced</strong></span></span> the first full season under the helm of artistic director Nick Sandys. All eyes will be watching as, &nbsp;in their words, the "2012/2013 season is replete with the type of plays that the group has become renowned for producing, modern classics full of thought-provoking ideas, passionate debates, and sophisticated wit." The season theme is&nbsp;<em>The Marriage Game: Truth and Consequence?</em>, and the plays going up include<em>&nbsp;</em><em>Seascape</em>&nbsp;by Edward Albee, George Bernard Shaw's <em>You Never Can Tell </em>and&nbsp;<em>Creditors</em>&nbsp;by August Strindberg. Subscriptions on sale at the end of March. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Another 2012-13 season announcement</strong></span></span>, this one from <a href="http://timelinetheatre.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/our-2012-13-season/">TimeLine</a>: they're doing&nbsp;<em>33 Variations</em>&nbsp;by Moisés Kaufman, the world premiere of <em>Wasteland </em>by Susan Felder, <em>Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West</em> by Naomi Iizuka, and J.T. Rogers' <em>Blood and Gifts.</em></p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>4. It pays to be&nbsp;an American Express Cardmember</strong></span></span>, apparently; <em>Book of Mormon</em> tickets<a href="http://www.theatreinchicago.com/newswire.php?newsID=677"> will go on sale</a> for them only tomorrow at 10 am. Everyone else will have to wait until March 19.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>5. And Broadway in Chicago</strong></span></span> brings more of the usual huge stuff, <a href="http://www.theatreinchicago.com/newswire.php?newsID=681">like </a>the <em>Grinch</em>, <em>Les Mis</em> and <em>Sister Act</em>.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Thu, 01 Mar 2012 19:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-01/daily-rehearsal-new-season-line-ups-remy-bumppo-and-timeline-96877 Daily Rehearsal: John Mahoney out of Steppenwolf's 'Penelope' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-23/daily-rehearsal-john-mahoney-out-steppenwolfs-penelope-94322 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-23/poster_pen.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-23/poster_pen.jpeg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 215px; height: 280px;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. Sad news: John Mahoney will no longer be part of <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/index.aspx?id=528"><em>Penelope</em></a>,</strong></span></span> which was slated to open in previews next week. Steppenwolf announced yesterday that there's been a death in Mahoney's family, and he'll be returning home. "Our hearts and prayers go out to John during this difficult time… and we hope to announce a replacement shortly," Artistic Director Martha Lavey said in a statement. Today the company announced he'll be replaced by Tracy Letts, who has been a part of the ensemble since 2002, and has won a Tony for his play <em>August: Osage County</em>.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. TimeLine has announced the addition of nine Associate Artists</strong></span></span> who will work with their Company Members; they are Will Allan, William Brown, Aaron Carter, Andrew Carter, John Culbert, Mildred Marie Langford, Mechelle Moe, Ann Wakefield&nbsp;and&nbsp;Alex Weisman. What will their actual tasks include? "They serve as non-voting advisers in artistic planning," the company said in a statement, "and are encouraged to propose and promote artistic programming ideas and to enhance the work culture and environment of TimeLine."</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. <a href="http://www.milliondollarquartetlive.com/chicago-news.html"><em>Million Dollar Quartet</em></a> is adding a new song</strong></span></span> to their set for the holiday season -- Chuck Berry's "Run, Run, Rudolph." Is it enough of a reason to see the show again (or for the first time)? Please watch the amazing video below and judge for yourself. The show will also be adding New Year's Eve performances, where they'll toast by singing "Auld Lang Syne." If I were you, I'd hope for champagne. The show is in Chicago through mid-January.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/KCTeXUkTFwQ" width="480" frameborder="0" height="360"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4.&nbsp;<em>Sound of Music</em> fans will love this Chicago-local connection</strong></span></span> to their favorite film;&nbsp;Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and Justin von Trapp (the great-grandchildren of Captain von Trapp) will be at the <a href="http://ParamountAurora.com">Paramount</a> on December 4 singing the songs that stole a million hearts. Didn't know the von Trapp's were real? Now you do!</p><p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. The Chicago Opera Theater will be announcing</strong></span></span> the appointment of a new General Director on December 7 at 12:30 pm, somewhere in the Loop. They'll be passed the baton of sorts by current general director Brian Dickie. In his <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-21/fat-lady-sings-overview-opera-scene-chicago-89376">overview of the opera scene</a>&nbsp;published in the summer, Jonathan Abarbanel pointed out that Dickie has been in the position since 1999, during which time "COT has specialized in baroque opera as well as a broader and definitely contemporary world view."</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 15:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-23/daily-rehearsal-john-mahoney-out-steppenwolfs-penelope-94322 Daily Rehearsal: Have your say — vote to extend a play http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-25/daily-rehearsal-have-your-say-%E2%80%94-vote-extend-play-93448 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-25/Burying-Miss-America.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-25/Burying-Miss-America.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 292px; height: 400px; " title=""><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>1. One of the Goodman's Youth Arts Council members</strong></span></span>, Lauren Escobar, has been honored by NBC Chicago as one of 11 Hispanic-Americans recognized during Hispanic Heritage month for "continued contributions to the Hispanic community." Being a Youth Arts Council member means that you work with your school and community to encourage theater, and you lead workshops for young kids as well. They come out of a crop of kids who complete a General Theater Studies program. Escobar was&nbsp;acknowledged at a lunch last week at NBC Chicago studios.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">2. WNEP says they're "feverishly working </span></span></strong>behind the scenes to prepare for our next show." Check back on their <a href="http://wneptheater.org/2011/10/stay-posted-for-our-next-show/">website soon</a> for further announcements (or I'm paying attention, here).</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>3. New Leaf Theatre is letting you vote</strong></span></span> on whether or not you want them to extend their show <em>Burying Miss America</em>, and if you do, how so. Through Friday evening, <a href="http://www.newleaftheatre.org/blog/choose-your-own-performance/">vote on their blog</a>&nbsp;for the performance time you'd go to, and if enough people vote (20 or more), the show will happen. Democracy in action, people.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Reviews are in for <em>The Game Show Show...and Stuff!</em></strong></span></span>&nbsp;after their <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-29/daily-rehearsal-steppenwolf-launches-hip-new-blog-92626">big move</a> to the Mercury Theater. It's still a fun night, but Chris Jones says that when you move to a big marquee, "expectations change." And he <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/theaterloop/ct-ent-1025-game-show-review-20111025,0,889476.column">has specific recommendations</a>. "Here's what needs to happen for this show to work in such a space: It has to be much, much faster and funnier — Lawfer needs more material and he should have a lot more fun with his eager volunteers."</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>5. Interested in TimeLine Theatre's marketing techniques</strong></span></span> this year? Photographer <a href="http://timelinetheatre.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/paper-magic/">Ryan Robinson fills you in</a> on the "million x-acto blades and stacks and stacks of paper" it took to make the images promoting this year's plays. And watch this video, it's definitely cool.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/5wCLbbCwrjE" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 25 Oct 2011 14:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-25/daily-rehearsal-have-your-say-%E2%80%94-vote-extend-play-93448 The five faux essentials to a successful nonprofit, and the necessity of boards http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-24/praise-having-board-directors-93380 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-24/boardofdirectors_flickr_Metro Transportation Library and Archive.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A new <a href="http://www.ssireview.org/opinion/entry/five_investments_you_can_skip">piece in the Stanford Social Innovation Review</a> argues that there are five things&nbsp;considered essential to the success of nonprofits that are, in fact, wastes of time. The author is&nbsp;wrong about every one of them (Don’t use volunteers? Skip social media?) but he’s especially&nbsp;wrong about Boards of Directors, of which he says,</p><blockquote><p>There is a tremendously high fixed cost to training your board to facilitate donations (in kind or cash). If your board can’t generate a large part of your budget (say, 20 percent), you are likely to find them getting in the way of fundraising success...</p></blockquote><p>I started thinking about this in connection with theaters when I chatted last week with the chair of&nbsp;a local theater Board, who was extolling the virtues of the master-carpenter Board member&nbsp;who’d built the theater and the advertising-executive Board member who’d created its awareness campaign. “We started out with all attorneys and CPAs,” he said, “and then we figured out that we needed people who could actually do something useful.”</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="350" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-24/boardofdirectors_flickr_Metro Transportation Library and Archive.jpg" title="A very old board of directors. (Flickr/Metro Transportation Library and Archive)" width="500"></p><p style="text-align: left;">Very funny, and he’s right, of course, that Boards should include a diversity of skills. But here’s&nbsp;the deal: if you regard any member of your Board as unable to do something useful, or the Board as a whole as a waste of time, that means you’re wasting your Board. These volunteers who can represent your performance group to the wider community, and who’ve pledged to help you secure the resources you need to go on performing, are absolutely essential to your success. Does anyone imagine Chicago Shakespeare would have a space on Navy Pier without its Board’s efforts and connections? Or that TimeLine would be raking in the accolades without a group of people devoted to providing the infrastructure for the company’s excellent work? There are dozens of other examples, and very few counter-examples–because the companies with lousy Boards simply aren’t around anymore.<br> <br> Yes, of course you have to train them–no one is born knowing how to be a nonprofit Board member, and you can’t just say, “Raise money” and leave them to their own devices. But training them is remarkably easy–most Board members, after all, want to do a great job–and if you think you don’t have the expertise to do it yourself, ask the Arts Work Fund for a grant to bring in a trainer. (I have nothing to gain from giving this advice: though I do this kind of work, I don’t do it for theater or dance companies.) Every member of your Board can do something useful; it’s your job (Managing/Artistic Director) to make sure they know what it is and how they’re supposed to do it.<br> <br> Some years ago the Whitney Museum received a remarkable gift from its Board of Directors: a significant painting from each of their private collections. I was praising Boards to a skeptical theater manager using this particular example, and she said, “Why didn’t I think of that? We’ll just run downstairs and haul out our Monets.” But whether your Board is big money or just big effort, it’s the shoulders you're standing on to reach the stage.<br> <br> So: have you hugged your Board today?</p></p> Mon, 24 Oct 2011 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-24/praise-having-board-directors-93380 Daily Rehearsal: Occupy Broadway? http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-11/daily-rehearsal-occupy-broadway-93049 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-11/broadway_flickr_ryanhoard.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-11/charlesisherwood.jpg" style="margin: 10px; float: right; width: 300px; height: 137px;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. Have you seen the tumblr <a href="http://charlesisherwoodsyogurtshop.tumblr.com">Charles Isherwood's Yogurt Shop</a></strong></span></span> because GO RIGHT NOW. It's all based off of this one quote he gave just a few days ago in our new favorite <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-10/daily-rehearsal-seven-minutes-heaven-ellen-degeneres-93004">review of Adam Rapp's despised playwriting abilities</a>: "[T]he prospect of five more [plays] next year...frankly leaves me contemplating abandoning my vocation to open a yogurt shop in Long Island City."&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. Remy Bumppo has a new "Between the Lines"</strong></span></span> conversation coming up this weekend from Long Wharf Theatre on&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.remybumppo.org/mourning-becomes-electra-pages-363.php" title="http://www.remybumppo.org/mourning-becomes-electra-pages-363.php">Mourning Becomes Electra</a></em>, not to be confused with the hit children's show from way back when,<em> Between the Lions</em>. Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein talks about Eugene O'Neill and plans to show how O'Neill&nbsp;"packed all the power of <em>Mourning Becomes Electra</em> in to just half the time."</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Taxes, art and non-profits</strong></span></span>, Kelly Kleiman's<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-02-28/new-illinois-will-theaters-lose-property-tax-exemption-83067"> favorite topics</a>. According <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2011/10/10/who-benefits-from-tax-free-arts-philanthropy">to the <em>Reader</em></a>, who got it via&nbsp;the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncrp.org/paib/arts-culture-philanthropy">National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy</a>, "Fifty-five percent of foundation arts grants go to the less than 2 percent of arts organizations with annual budgets of more than $5 million." And, perhaps unsurprising to you, the people who experience the work of these insitutions are typically white and wealthy.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-11/broadway_flickr_ryanhoard.jpg" style="margin: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 225px;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Occupy Broadway?</strong></span></span> Though it hasn't yet come to that, <a href="http://www.2amtheatre.com/2011/10/11/gross/">writes Howard Sherman</a>, the reason shows keep grossing more money isn't because more people are going to them, but because the tickets are more expensive. "Do we need a movement?" asks Sherman. "Perhaps not yet. But do we need pronounced change we can believe in when it comes to access and pricing for the arts? Absolutely."</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. A week from Saturday we've got TimeLine Theatre's “Meet the Artists”</strong></span></span> reception in relation to their show <em>The Pitman Painters</em>. They have artwork by six Chicago-area union members displayed at the theatre and Art de Triumph/Artful Framers Studio, and the reception will be after the&nbsp;4 pm show at the latter location.&nbsp;</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 11 Oct 2011 18:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-11/daily-rehearsal-occupy-broadway-93049 Daily Rehearsal: TimeLine Theatre gets a big grant http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-03/daily-rehearsal-timeline-theatre-gets-big-grant-92759 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-04/TimeLine Theater_Flickr_Jacob Spencer.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. Casting has been finalized for&nbsp;<i>Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat</i></strong></span></span>, and no, I did not put in that&nbsp;<i>®. </i>Joseph has gone to "boy wonder"&nbsp;Brian Bohr, who is only a senior at Northwestern University.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. Don Hall asks whether theater can work for change,</strong></span></span> as he explains the process behind picking the winners for WBEZ's <em>Off-Air Series</em> event "<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/beyond-mic/2011-10-02/can-theater-work-change-92726">The Art of the Political: Can the Stage Be More Than Entertainment?</a>" The take-away? "Choosing plays is a HIGHLY subjective thing and you may have written a great play but if it doesn't get under the reader's skin, it has less to do with your talent and more to do with the expectation of your audience," writes Hall. "So, as hard as it may seem, it isn't so much a rejection of your work but a choice that that particular work just doesn't...." Hall actually found that there were more submissions from New York than Chicago. Head to Victory Gardens this Sunday night to see the panel discussion and see what won!</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. TimeLine Theatre has gotten a grant</strong></span></span> from the American Theatre Wing&nbsp;as one of the nation's 10 most promising emerging professional theatres. They'll get their award on October 24 in New York at a snazzy awards ceremony. Wondering why they got the money? "ATW's National Theatre Company Grants Program distributes grants for general operating support to recognize regional theatre companies for their achievements, which include articulating a distinctive mission, cultivating an audience, and nurturing a community of artists in ways that strengthen and demonstrate the quality, diversity, and dynamism of American theatre."&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-03/upstairsgallery.jpg" style="margin: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 299px;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Have you been to the Upstairs Gallery?</strong></span></span> The oddly located venue in Andersonville at asks if "You like art? You like performance?" before responding "SO DO WE." They beckon at you with their low-key vibe and young clientele. Seriously, their web presence includes a <a href="http://upstairsgallery.tumblr.com/">Tumblr </a>and a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/upstairsgallerychicago">Facebook </a>page, natch. Expect to see mostly improv, at very cheap and free prices.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. Did you know that once a play is on Broadway</strong></span></span>, it can go on to success in other parts of the county? <a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/03/red-and-carnage-find-new-life-well-beyond-broadway/"><em>The New York Times</em> remarks on</a> the bevy of recent Tony winners being performed all over the nation this fall season. Several that they mention are here in Chicago: They include <em>Clybourne Park</em>, <em>Red</em>, and&nbsp;<em>In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)</em>, as well as ones we've sort of started here, like August: Osage County. "Where honors and acclaim can help a play is around the country, at American regional and touring theaters, where executives view Tony-winning plays as reliable seat-fillers," writes Patrick Healy. What goes around comes around....</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Mon, 03 Oct 2011 18:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-03/daily-rehearsal-timeline-theatre-gets-big-grant-92759 The reluctant hero: Dan Waller in 'The Pitmen Painters' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-28/reluctant-hero-dan-waller-pitmen-painters-92513 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-28/pitmen painters_Eric Futran.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>“I’ve split my pants like five times. I’ve done four shows with rips on my butt!”</p><p>Through most of <em>The Pitmen Painters</em>, Dan Waller is entombed in a close-fitting suit, perhaps a metaphor for his character: the most reserved, and possibly the most talented, of the four Ashington Group miner/artists in Lee Hall’s 2007 play. <a href="http://www.timelinetheatre.com/">TimeLine’s production, directed by BJ Jones, lovingly etches the time and place</a>: a little mining town in Northumberland in the mid-30s. And with Waller’s help, no character is more movingly drawn than Oliver Kilbourn.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-27/dan waller.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 354px;" title=""></p><p>Waller, 39, says he shares some traits with Oliver. “A fear of the unknown, to a degree. And a fear of letting down our peers or friends, abandoning them—selling out. And we both don’t like the spotlight really, it’s kind of uncomfortable.”</p><p>So… why is Waller an <em>actor?</em> “I got in trouble as a kid, and my mom made me do it as an extracurricular after-school thing.” He did well in a competition in eighth grade. “Then in high school, when I got suspended and kicked off the baseball team, my mom wanted me to have a hobby.”</p><p>“I got suspended all the time,” Waller adds, “for either fighting or drinking.” Part of the problem may have been that, after ninth grade, he moved from Algona, Iowa (pop. 7,000), to the big city of Ames, where he attended public rather than Catholic school.</p><p>“I was kind of a troublemaker before that. In Catholic school there’s a lot of rules, but the fun-est part is breaking those rules. In high school, I didn’t know who I was. The jocks thought I was a drama queen—actually the word was ‘drama fag,’ what they called me. And the theater people didn’t know what to do with me, they thought I was a jock.”</p><p>Waller sorted things out and eventually got a bachelor’s in theater and film from the University of Washington in Seattle. He’s worked a fair amount on camera as well as onstage, but “I can’t say this is ever easy. Unless you play a character that only good things happen to, there’s a sense of pain you have to go through on a nightly basis. It feels like private moments. And when I think about it objectively, that people are watching this….”</p><p>In <em>Pitmen</em>, however, “I needed to tackle the obstacle of the Geordie dialect first,” Waller says. “[Dialect coach] Tanera Marshall—she did <em>Billy Elliot</em> [also penned by Hall]—says the Geordie dialect is the most difficult one there is. I worked my ass off on that, I’ll be honest. I immersed myself in people from Newcastle, every radio interview I could find online and movies and sessions with Tanera.”</p><p>“But if you did the <em>real</em> Geordie, no one could understand a frickin’ thing,” he says. “It would be impossible. The English from around there don’t even understand it. And there’s a further dialect called ‘pitmatic,’ that developed in the pits. The script also has pitmatic.”</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-27/PitmenPainters_140.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 334px;" title="The cast of 'The Pitmen Painters'"></p><p>Waller says this is “a very personal play” for director Jones, who grew up in Cleveland and was once a card-carrying member of the miners’ union. “He can see the story through all the characters’ eyes, in particular Oliver”—the miner who travels the furthest into the deep, dark jungle...I mean, the arts world.</p><p>Waller, who says he tends to get blue-collar roles, has worked at various jobs since he was 14, first doing inserts and other tasks at the newspaper where his dad worked, then detasseling corn. “I also did construction,” he says. “Gas stations, a lot of restaurant stuff, managed restaurants, a cook, I was a waiter—I was a horrible waiter.”</p><p>But the scariest, most awful thing Waller did was to dance onstage. His wife teaches Irish dance, and he did voiceovers for <a href="http://chicagodancecrash.com/">Chicago Dance Crash</a>, notably in 2005's <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/chicago-dance-crash/Content?oid=919176"><em>Tribulation and the Demolition Squad</em>.</a> But he actually came out onstage in 2009, during CDC’s <em>The Drawing Board</em>.</p><p>“I hope you didn’t see that!” he says. I didn’t. “I had to do a portion of <em>Thriller,</em> yah, and I did the voiceover for Vincent Price. I had never been more nervous in my life, to the point where it gave me hives. I wanted to do it because I wanted to conquer it. I never conquered it, though, I was still scared as s**t. But now I can say that I did it.”</p></p> Wed, 28 Sep 2011 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-28/reluctant-hero-dan-waller-pitmen-painters-92513 The Dueling Critics guide to what's good right now! http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-23/dueling-critics-guide-whats-good-right-now-92394 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-15/moby_web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Thirty days hath September but more than 50 shows--yes, really, more than 50--are opening in area theaters. With that much ground clutter, you need someone to sort the wheat from the chaff. Hey, count on the Dueling Critics, folks; that's why they pay us the big bucks. Kelly calls her recommendations "hidden treasures," while Jonathan prefers to call his "good shows." In either case, the DC have selected early-season hits playing at smaller Off-Loop neighborhood theaters.<br> <br> <strong><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-15/moby_web.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 176px; height: 250px; " title="">KELLY:</strong> My first "hidden treasure" is a pearl of the deep, <a href="http://www.buildingstage.com/bxo_show_mobydick.php"><em><strong>Moby-Dick</strong></em></a> at the Building Stage. This reworking of the company's 2006 rendition of the book proves to be even better than its memorable predecessor. This time, lightening up on the stage tricks and hewing even more closely to the text, adapter-director Blake Montgomery and his cast of six (three men and three women) succeed in stripping the novel to its essence. In so doing, they alter fundamentally our understanding of Melville's epic. As each cast member takes his/her turn in the black raincoat representing Ahab, each adopts the stance and gait appropriate to a one-legged man on board ship--which also happens to be the stance and gait of every Richard III you've ever seen. It's a parallel I'd never before considered, but each of these charismatically evil men uses rage at his destroyed body as a reason to destroy the whole world. And even more amazing was the moment, nearly buried in the book but emphasized onstage, when Starbuck stands with a shotgun in his hand gazing at the sleeping Ahab, trying to make himself kill the crazed captain before the captain kills them all. Because he's too virtuous to do so, the tragedy continues unimpeded--just as Hamlet's inability to kill Claudius while he's praying leads to more and still more bloodshed. Melville himself described Moby-Dick as a "deeply wicked book," and this production showed me why: because it preaches the utter impotence of good in the face of evil. Seems like a timely, if unwelcome, message. Kevin O'Donnell's music, performed by a trio of drummers and percussionists perched ghost-like above the stage, embodies the atmosphere of fear and loathing hanging over the Pequod. I hear the House Theatre plans to offer a <em>Moby-Dick</em> in the next year or so; they'll have a big boat to fill. Friday-Sunday through October 30; tickets $22, $12 for students; at the company's space in the unbelievably West Loop, 412 North Carpenter.<br> <br> <strong>JONATHAN:</strong> Sounds fishy to me, toots. My first "good show" is Lee Blessing's Pulitzer Prize winner, <a href="http://www.timelinetheatre.com/walk_in_the_woods/"><strong><em>A Walk in the Woods</em></strong></a>, presented by TimeLine (sic) Theatre but not in their usual space on Wellington Avenue. This 1986 drama isn't new to Chicago, but this first professional revival in many years gives a new twist to the drama of two arms neotiators, one American and one Soviet, trying to save the world from nuclear annihilation. With Blessing's OK, the Soviet diplomat is being played by a woman which provides unexpected force and nuance to the friendship that grows between the two individuals. In engaging performances under director Nick Bowling, Janet Ulrich Brooks is sly, tough and warm as Anya Botvinnik and David Parkes is elegantly crisp as American John Honeyman. Based on actual off-the-books negotiations which almost succeeded, <em>A Walk in the Woods</em> smartly poses the real-politik and demand for trust which are at the heart of any arms deal. It's being performed by TimeLine at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Avenue (Chicago), through Nov. 20; 773-975-8150; $34-$44 with discounts for students/seniors.<br> <br> <strong><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-23/GreenTree.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 165px; height: 220px; " title="">KELLY:</strong> So much for Jonathan's wooden observations. At some point in Melville's Moby Dick, the narrator tries to determine what's so horrifying about the whale, and decides it's the color: "Its whiteness made the palsied world seem like a leper." Whiteness of a different sort likewise pollutes the world of Dael Orlandersmith's powerful<em> <a href="http://www.stage773.com/Show?id=1"><strong>Yellowman</strong></a></em>, an examination of African-American color-consciousness and its costs presented by Greenetree Productions. In the Gullah-speaking community of South Carolina, the shade of your skin determines your status, your opportunities and your self-concept. "Yellow" African-Americans (that is, those whose white heritage is manifest in their features) are higher-status than their darker fellows but are also considered weaker, more cowardly, perhaps even traitorous. Orlandersmith presents a couple divided by this internal color line: he's pale, she's dark, and their parents do everything possible to keep them apart based on this difference. (Does another Shakespeare play come to mind?) Under the nuanced and delicate direction of Jonathan Wilson, Deanna K. Reed and company artistic director J. Israel Greene portray the couple as well as the teachers, playmates, drunken mothers, and abusive fathers whose prejudices narrow and ultimately destroy their world. Their tour de force performances highlight the incantatory nature of Orlandermith's language--soliloquoy as poetry--and carry the audience right into the heart of darkness. Or, I should say, whiteness. At Stage 773 on Belmont; Thursday-Sunday through October 9; tickets $15-$25.<br> <br> <strong><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-23/count_prod_01.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 159px; height: 225px; " title="">JONATHAN:</strong> Two-actor dramas and murderous whales. I'm not sure Kelly and I have offered much variety so far, so how about a big, sprawling costume drama based on a classic popular novel? Of course, keep in mind that <a href="http://www.lifelinetheatre.com/performances/11-12/count/index.shtml"><strong><em>The Count of Monte Christo</em></strong></a> is a convoluted tale of obsession and revenge and is not without its own set of murders, mayhem and horror. As adapted by Christopher M. Walsh, many of the subplots and side stories have been stripped away or slightly reassigned so that Edmond Dantes alone drives forward all the action, played with dark-and-brooding coldness by imposing Chris Hainsworth. Indeed, the inevitable outcome, as Walsh sees it, is the emptiness of the future for Dantes once his mission of vengeance is complete. Walsh also relegates to narration many of the action sequences which have been highlighted in other adaptations. Nary a sword is drawn in this version although knives and pistols make appearances. Director Paul S. Holmquist and his 11-person cast keep the story spinning along at a fast clip in a lavish physical production; one which certainly should make audiences think twice about their actions and motives. <em>The Count of Monte Christo</em> continues through Oct. 30 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Greenwood; 773-761-4477; $32-$35 with discounts for students/seniors.</p></p> Fri, 23 Sep 2011 19:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-23/dueling-critics-guide-whats-good-right-now-92394