WBEZ | Powerless http://www.wbez.org/tags/powerless Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Comments on the lack of theater in Logan Square http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-11/comments-lack-theater-logan-square-90380 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-11/IMG_3109.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-10/IMG_3109.JPG" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 350px; height: 263px; " title="'Powerless' is at Voice of the City, an arts space in Logan Square (WBEZ/Kate Dries)">As you may have seen, we published <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-09/powerless-just-your-average-superhero-comic-book-play-90300">a piece earlier on <em>Powerless</em></a>, a new play that's running in Voice of the City. Part of the conversation with writers David Brent and Mitch Salm, as well as director Jack Tamburri, included a discussion about their struggle to find a space in Logan Square, which is not known for its happening theater scene. It was particularly interesting to me how hard they worked to keep the play in a neighborhood they lived in;&nbsp;Salm and Brent rejected "real" theaters in the hopes that they could keep their work local.</p><p>"Logan Square is literally my favorite neighborhood in Chicago, and the only two things it lacks are supermarkets and theater," joked Brent. "And we weren’t about to open a supermarket." The group, led by Marketing Director Erika Grammel, worked with local businesses as sponsers, invented some creative advertising campaigns (dressing up as superheroes and walking around), and the group held a fundraiser at a local bar.&nbsp;Costume designer Rebecca Loeser shopped at the Gap Outlet on the corner when it got too late to make it out to other areas of the city.</p><p>Listen below to Salm, Brent and Tamburri discuss their attempts and thoughts about finding a theater space in Logan Square.</p><p><span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/powerless audio_0.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-113515" player="null">powerless audio.mp3</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 11 Aug 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-11/comments-lack-theater-logan-square-90380 'Powerless': Just your average superhero comic book play http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-10/powerless-just-your-average-superhero-comic-book-play-90300 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-10/IMG_3105.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" height="268" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-10/comic-crop.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Kate Dries)" width="600"></p><p>The idea that a few twenty-somethings might want to be superheroes isn't exactly groundbreaking. Nor is a play based on a comic book. But combine them, and you've a Chicago-based mini-phenonmenon.</p><p>That's the feeling you get when talking to the minds behind&nbsp;<em>Powerless</em>, a self-described "comic book play" currently running at <a href="http://www.voiceofthecity.org/">Voice of the City</a> in Logan Square through August 20.</p><p>About a year and a half ago, writers David Brent and Mitch Salm had the idea to combine the mediums, though Brent admits they "weren't sure exactly what that was going to mean."</p><p>After staging a reading in April 2010, they came back to work in January inspired to create a fully-fleshed out production, one that would divide the show into three acts or "issues". Brent and Salm knew they wouldn't be able to do it alone, however, so the two graduates of the University of Chicago reached out to a fellow alum.</p><p>Enter Jack Tamburri, currently an M.F.A. student at the Yale University School of Drama.</p><p>"Other people I’m sure would have done a great job, but Jack was the only person we both knew and trusted, and who knew and got the play," said Brent.&nbsp; "And [he] had a really deep background, not only in theater, but also in comic books.”</p><p>The group formed the <a href="http://societyofyoungsuperheroes.org/">Society of Young Superheroes</a>, an homage to their play, and a stand-in for the theater company they admit they're not.</p><p>Comic book plays have been done before (<em>You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown</em> and <em>Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark&nbsp;</em>are two obvious examples), but the threesome felt as though previous attempts didn't fully incorporate the nature of comic books.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-09/pic2.jpg" style="margin: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 450px;" title="Panels with projections during a performance">“Comics and theater are two of the only art forms that really, really require the audience to help tell the story," explained Brent. "When you see a film, the film already exists. You’re watching it, but the film is not changing. The story exists.”</p><p>With <em>Powerless</em>, however, they hoped to use the structure of the comic book to help viewers tell the story <em>with </em>them.&nbsp; That structure relies heavily on "gutters" or the spaces between panels in comics, which prompt readers to fill in gaps in the story themselves.</p><p><em>Powerless</em> holds on to the comic book format by projecting&nbsp;200 different panel images during the play. It also incorporates voiceovers and adds a live score - all in the hopes that the audience-member can put these disparate factors together on their own.&nbsp;</p><p>“I am interested - through the work, and not by bullying anybody, and not with a program note, but through the content - in making the audience aware of its responsibility in the room," said Tamburri, who feels that much theater these days doesn't use their live audience enough.</p><p>They also hope<em> Powerless</em> isn't, well, a huge bore.</p><p>"What if you could cut, for example, a two hour play down into one hour, and then just simultaneously project the other hour with images?," said Salm. "Like an image could communicate an entire day even. Or two images are an essential part of the story could just happen instantaneously."</p><p>Easier said then done.</p><p>By all accounts, tech that includes projectors is a lot more complicated than just panels and a stage, especially in a space that can seem a little empty when a performance isn't taking place.</p><p><em>Powerless&nbsp;</em>is filled with your usual characters -- the slacker, the do-gooder, the hero -- who say things like "Citizens are sorry. Heroes are right", and make sarcastic statements like "It takes a cape to make a f***in' man."&nbsp;</p><p>The show includes references to Nietzsche, and is filled with post-collegiate angst -- and that's all just in the first issue. Sure there's a lot going on, but maybe there should be.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-09/IMG_3108.JPG" style="margin: 10px; float: right; width: 350px; height: 263px;" title="Art on the walls is leftover from the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, which 'Powerless!' took part in (WBEZ/Kate Dries)"></p><p>Nevertheless, <em>Powerless</em>&nbsp;means enough to its creators that it doesn't seem to bother them much whether others dig it, and just the process seems to make them happy.</p><p>"There are moments in the show that when I see them, I think ‘That is a mode of storytelling that I have never seen before,'" said Salm. "And I’m really proud of those moments. And when those moments happen you usually only realize them after they happen."</p><p>For it was during the show, when, as Brent explains, "We kind of realized both comics and theater tend to attract people who, for whatever reason, want to feel empowered."</p><p>"They empower the people to help tell the story," agrees Salm.&nbsp;</p><p>Salm and Brent aren't sure where <em>Powerless </em>will go next; they're currently working on a movie script that's fifteen scenes of five minutes each, all in different neighborhoods in Chicago. We've seen this theme recently in Chicago, with <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-07/critics-theater-picks-78-712-88822"><em>en route</em></a>, or <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-21/critics-theater-picks-pornography-bigger-and-being-side-man-89465"><em>Cut to the Quick</em></a>.</p><p>But as Salm says,"There are no rules for this kind of thing."</p></p> Wed, 10 Aug 2011 20:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-10/powerless-just-your-average-superhero-comic-book-play-90300