WBEZ | Greenhouse Theatre http://www.wbez.org/tags/greenhouse-theatre Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en A touch of theatrical déjà vu http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-17/touch-theatrical-d%C3%A9j%C3%A0-vu-95578 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-January/2012-01-17/clutter.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-17/the_ghost_is_here.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 225px; height: 340px;" title="'The Ghost is Here' from Vitalist Theatre">Someone much wise and more perceptive than me (I know it’s difficult to imagine such a thing) observed that in all of literature, including drama, there only are nine or a dozen basic storylines. I forget the precise number, but it’s remarkably low. I was reminded of this in compiling my master list of theater productions opening in the next several months, during which task <em>déjà vu</em> jumped up and socked me in the jaw a couple of times.</p><p>For example, this past weekend saw the Vitalist Theatre offer <a href="http://www.vitalisttheatre.org/company.html"><strong><em>The Ghost is Here</em></strong></a>, a 1957 play by acclaimed Japanese author Kobo Abe, running through Feb. 19 at the DCA Storefront Theater. Set in post-World War II Japan, it’s the tale of a preposterous con-artist promoting a grim scam of selling the dead or, rather, buying photos of the war dead cheap and selling them back dear to grieving relatives, claiming that an agent for the ghosts of the dead demands a cut.</p><p>Instantly, I thought of Nikolai Gogol’s 1842 novel, <em>Dead Souls</em>, in which a schemer buys up the souls of deceased serfs (this was before the 1861 Emancipation of Russian serfs) whose names remain listed as taxable property of landowners. I don’t know if Abe ever had access to Gogol’s writings, either in Russian or Japanese, but both authors are famously noted for the absurdist, almost surreal worlds they create. <em>Dead Soul</em> was adapted for the stage at least twice, famously by Mikhail Bulgakov in 1932 for the Moscow Art Theatre, directed by Stanislavsky, and in 1980 by Russian-fluent American playwright Tom Cole for the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-17/clutter.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 199px;" title="'Clutter' at Greenhouse Theatre (Photo by Peter Coombs)">Then, this Thursday (Jan. 19), MadKap (sic) Productions offer a world premiere by Mark Salztman, <a href="http://www.madkapproductions.com/-clutter.html"><strong><em>Clutter</em></strong></a>, running at the Greenhouse through March 11. It’s based on the lives of the Collyer Brothers, New York City eccentrics and hoarders found dead in their garbage-packed Upper Fifth Avenue townhouse in 1947. Their fascinatingly grotesque story has been turned into plays at least twice previously, Richard Greenberg’s 2002 <em>The Dazzle</em> (seen locally at Steppenwolf) and last July’s <em>Stuff</em>, by Michael McKeever, produced at the Caldwell Theatre in Florida. The brothers also were the subject of a 2009 E. L. Doctorow work of historical fiction (as is his wont), <em>Homer and Langley</em>.</p><p>Obviously, plays based on historical fact aren’t necessarily works which can be sorted into a particular plot slot, although each of them must have some sort of plot structure. Greenberg’s <em>The Dazzle</em>, for example, featured the Collyer Brothers as competitors in a romantic triangle much like, oh, say, <em>The Phantom of the Opera</em> in which Christine is lured by The Phantom and Raoul. There are few other similarities except the basic plot structure; see Paragraph One above.</p><p>The attraction of history and real people is, perhaps, the fact that they are in the public domain and, therefore, can be utilized as subjects with minimal legal encumberments. Often, too, such subjects or characters already are widely known, making them somehow more attractive to potential audiences. Thus, for example, we currently have Christopher Durang’s <strong><em>Titanic</em></strong> on stage at the <a href="http://www.athenaeumtheatre.com/">Athenaeum Theatre</a>, presented by Cock and Bull Theatre (through Jan. 29). It’s a very long way from the first or only stage and film treatment of the subject, although surely it’s the most outrageous with its drag sensibilities.</p><p>Also, Lookingglass Theatre now is presenting<a href="http://lookingglasstheatre.org/content/box_office/mr_rickey_calls_a_meeting"> <strong><em>Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting,</em></strong></a> through Feb. 9, which recounts Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey’s decision to integrate major league baseball with the 1947 call-up of Jackie Robinson. This seminal moment in American sporting history has been documented onstage and in film and even in a 1981 Broadway musical, <em>The First</em>, produced locally some years ago by the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.</p><p>I could go on, but you get the idea. Literature IS <em>déjà vu</em>, at least to a degree. I guess that some story ideas, some plotlines and some character types never stale in their infinite variety. Or, to use even more French, <em>plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose</em>.</p><p>P.S. If you think you’re reading my blog post from last week, you are <em>wrong</em>. This one is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AND ORIGINAL!</p></p> Tue, 17 Jan 2012 10:57:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-17/touch-theatrical-d%C3%A9j%C3%A0-vu-95578 Daily Rehearsal: get your 'Funny Ha Ha' on tonight http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-02/daily-rehearsal-get-your-funny-ha-ha-tonight-89971 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-18/zulkeyrunner2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-18/zulkeyrunner1.jpg" style="width: 266px; height: 400px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="This woman will be at the Hideout tonight"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=121937237895363">Funny Ha-Ha</a> with WBEZ blogger Claire Zulkey is tonight</strong></span></span>. This particular show is called <em>Hot Stuff</em>, and in case you don't know about this thing that's cool and makes you laugh, it's a literary humor series with local Chicago writers. This week's line-up includes <em>Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me</em> panelist and "Ask Amy" columnist Amy Dickinson, as well as Jezebel writer Erin Gloria Ryan. It's all at The Hideout at 7 pm.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. The long-awaited Chicago premiere of <a href="http://griffintheatre.com/griffin-theatre-opens-23rd-season-with-tony-award-winning-musical-spring-awakening-2/"><em>Spring Awakening</em></a></strong></span></span> has <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/theater/14879379/casting-complete-for-griffins-spring-awakening">its cast</a>, and they're a motley crew of unknowns, much like the original Broadway production which, fun fact, had a girl from my high school in it (she still went to classes, by the way). Good to see that there won't be a Rosario Dawson-playing-a-teenager-in-<em>Rent</em>- when-she-was-ancient<em>&nbsp;</em>situation going on here. The cast includes local students, from Columbia College, Northwestern, Roosevelt University, the Theater School at DePaul, UIC and Loyola, as well as&nbsp;Cornell University and Oklahoma City University.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Steppenwolf has shaken up it's artistic staff</strong></span></span>; their Associate Producer is now Jacob G.&nbsp;Padrón&nbsp;and their Literary Manager position has gone to Aaron Carter (no, not that one).&nbsp;Padrón will oversee Steppenwolf's Garage Rep, First Look, and NEXT UP series, while Carter will be working on finding new work for the company and getting audience engagement up.&nbsp;Padrón has been at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Carter was at Victory Gardens.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-02/second city sex.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 253px; margin: 10px; float: right;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Another day, another<em> Sex and the City</em> knockoff</strong></span></span>...homage, I mean. Opening this weekend at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights, Second City is doing a "pre-Chicago run" of <em><a href="http://www.metropolisarts.com/index.php/fuseaction/show.details/showid/251/the-second-citys-sex--the-second-city-a-romantic-dot-comedy.html">The Second City's Sex and the Second City: A Romantic Dot Comedy</a>&nbsp;</em>which "puts a&nbsp;hilarious spin on the technologies that are supposed to make our lives easier, but really make us pull out our hair." More importantly, Fred Willard, a Second City alum, and amazing star of movies like <em>Best in Show</em>, will be appearing via video. That's <em>so </em>21st century.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. <em>Memoir </em>at Greenhouse Theatre</strong></span></span> is also opening this weekend, and it's filled with history and...memory. "It is the summer of 1922 on an island off the coast of Brittany. Sarah Bernhardt, an icon of the nineteenth century stage, sets out to write the second volume of her memoirs. As Sarah and her secretary Pitou rekindle memories, they discover the truths behind her mythic stature." Oooooooh.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 02 Aug 2011 14:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-02/daily-rehearsal-get-your-funny-ha-ha-tonight-89971