WBEZ | Promethean Theatre Ensemble http://www.wbez.org/tags/promethean-theatre-ensemble Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Shaw and Brecht Even Shaw- and Brecht-Haters Will Enjoy, Plus An Alice Childress Revival http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2013-01/shaw-and-brecht-even-shaw-and-brecht-haters-will-enjoy-plus-alice <p><p>&nbsp;</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/RS6959_ChalkCircle-scr.JPG" style="height: 415px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p><u><em>Florence</em> and <em>Wine in the Wilderness</em>, <a href="http://etacreativearts.org">eta Creative Arts</a>, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave. in Grand Crossing, 773-752-3955;&nbsp; through March 3.</u><br /><br />Alice Childress, author of the novel <em>A Hero Ain&rsquo;t Nothin&rsquo; but a Sandwich</em> and the first woman to win an Obie Award, was also the first African American woman to have a play professionally produced.&nbsp; That play, <em>Florence</em> (1949) is the curtain-raiser of this evening of her work, and while it receives a fine production anchored by the delicate performance of Kona N. Burks, it&rsquo;s the second piece&mdash;written twenty years later&mdash;that&rsquo;s the real find.&nbsp; <em>Wine in the Wilderness</em>, set in the chaos of the late 60s, shows a black man coming painfully to terms with the idea that he doesn&rsquo;t get to define black womanhood.&nbsp; Under Mignon McPherson Stewart&rsquo;s capable direction, Mark Howard and Alicia Ivy White conduct a romance that&rsquo;s as sweet as it is unconventional.<br /><br /><u><em>Pygmalion</em>, <a href="http://stagelefttheatre.com">Stage Left</a> and <a href="http://BoHoTheatre.com">BoHo Theatre</a> at Theatre Wit, 1229 West Belmont Ave. in Lakeview, 773-975-8150; Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 3 through February 10; tickets $20-$25</u><br /><br />George Bernard Shaw&rsquo;s most familiar play turns out to be not so familiar after all as Vance Smith directs it at the speed of light, with no time for the audience to get restive. Shaw&rsquo;s complex ideas about identity, class and gender are spouted rapid-fire as if they were part of normal conversation rather than material for the lecture hall.&nbsp; This leaves us free to invest ourselves in the proto-love affair between Professor Henry Higgins (Steve O&rsquo;Connell, adorable enough to avoid invidious comparisons with Leslie Howard and/or Rex Harrison) and the Cockney flower-girl Eliza Doolittle (the extraordinary Mouzam Makkar).&nbsp; The result is a bit like standing under a volcano of ideas sharing an umbrella with terrifically interesting commentators (especially Mark Pracht&rsquo;s Alfred Doolittle, avatar of the &lsquo;undeserving poor&rsquo;).&nbsp; Theresa Ham&rsquo;s costume designs could put <em>Downton Abbey</em> to shame.<br /><br /><u><em>The Caucasian Chalk Circle</em>, <a href="http://prometheantheatre.org/">Promethean Theatre Ensemble</a> at City Lit Theater, 1020 West Bryn Mawr in Edgewater, 800-836-3006; Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 3 through February 9; tickets $20 at <a href="http://brownpapertickets.com/">brownpapertickets.com</a></u></p><div class="image-insert-image ">Jon Stewart once created a spectrum of comedy that ran from &ldquo;Pants-Wetting&rdquo; down to &ldquo;Brechtian;&rdquo; and Brecht is indeed generally less funny than trying.&nbsp; This production, though, is funny and moving in equal measure, as expertly performed by a company of 15 actors.&nbsp; Not only do they handle Brecht&rsquo;s dry wit with fluency, they play instruments and sing Matt Kahler&rsquo;s gorgeous original music with flair.&nbsp; (Kahler&rsquo;s arrangements enlivened Gilbert &amp; Sullivan for the Hypocrites, but even if you saw <em>Penzance</em> or <em>Mikado</em> you&rsquo;ll be amazed by his composition skills.) The text of Caucasian is classic Brecht: we&rsquo;re at war, the world is run by cretins, and no good deed goes unpunished. Yet director Ed Rutherford enables us to care about Grusha (Sara Gorsky, with a voice to match her strong acting chops) and the child she adopts--even though the child is actually and obviously a doll.&nbsp; Brecht, who worked to alienate the audience, might be horrified&ndash;-but for the rest of us, a Brecht play about real people with real feelings is a joy to behold.</div></p> Thu, 17 Jan 2013 13:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2013-01/shaw-and-brecht-even-shaw-and-brecht-haters-will-enjoy-plus-alice Daily Rehearsal: The Goodman labels 'Iceman' its most successful production ever http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/daily-rehearsal-goodman-labels-iceman-its-most-successful-production <p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- <a href="http://www.prometheantheatre.org">Promethean Theatre</a>&#39;s 2012-13 season</strong></span></span> includes several classics, like <em>Black Magic: An Evening of Shakespeare</em>, Bertolt Brecht&rsquo;s <em>The Caucasian Chalk Circle</em>, and <em>A Study in Scarlet</em>, an adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes mystery.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- And <a href="http://www.strangelooptheatre.org">Strangeloop Theatre</a>&#39;s 5th season includes <em>Loopshop</em></strong></span></span>, which is a series of workshops by local playwrights like Anthony Ellison, David Clark, Maria Bunham, Keith Gatchel, Scott A. Miller and Darrin Luginski. They each get two performances only, each performed&nbsp;at Chemically Imbalanced Theater. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Nathan%20Lane%20Iceman%20Liz%20Lauren_0.JPG" style="float: right; width: 300px; height: 200px; " title="Nathan Lane in 'The Iceman Cometh' (Photo by Liz Lauren)" /><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- The Goodman is calling <em>Iceman Cometh</em></strong></span></span> their most successful production ever. The&nbsp;&quot;nearly five-hour, 18-character epic broke box office records and played to 100 percent of capacity at the Goodman&mdash;officially concluding its 50-performance extended run as the most successful show in the Goodman&rsquo;s 87-year history,&quot; they said in a statement. &quot;Audiences numbered more than 42,000 Goodman Subscribers and ticket buyers&mdash;30 percent of whom attended the Goodman for the first time&mdash;and visitors from 46 states and eight countries....&quot; Mayor Rahm Emanuel congratulated them, Nathan Lane called it &quot;the high point of [his] theatrical career&quot; and Brian Dennehy said it was &quot;the most fun and the most successful&quot; of all his &quot;great experiences in Chicago theater.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Chicago Commercial Collective <a href="http://twitter.com/Asteadyrainchi/status/220212031687639040">tweeted </a></strong></span></span>&quot;They&#39;re not Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, @WBEZ, but I&#39;d still say Randy and Peter are man candy!&quot; in response to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-06/daily-rehearsal-steady-rain-returns-without-hollywood-man-candy">our post</a> about the leading men of Chicago&#39;s&nbsp;<em>A Steady Rain</em>. Yes but they&#39;re not <em>Hollywood </em>man candy. (Not yet anyway.)</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 03 Jul 2012 14:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/daily-rehearsal-goodman-labels-iceman-its-most-successful-production Daily Rehearsal: New Leaf closes shop http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/daily-rehearsal-new-leaf-closes-shop-99196 <p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>1. <a href="http://www.prometheantheatre.org/On-Stage/production-henry-v.aspx"><em>Henry V </em></a></strong>f</span></span>rom Promethean Theatre Ensemble is apparently not super fantastic, but maybe it's just the play and not the performance? Is that blasphemous against Shakespeare?&nbsp;Will I get flogged in the stockyards for that? Probably. But you know what I always say: it's the worst of the Henry's. Well, now you know that I always say that. (Update: <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/krisvire/status/202861235434299392">Some</a> have taken issue with the vague language of this. Fair play. It's been amended to include at least <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/theater/15360071/henry-v-at-promethean-theatre-ensemble-theater-review">one</a>&nbsp;less than favorable review, and to say that the author spoke with several others who had seen this particular production and not been wowed. However, she stands by her statement that <em>Henry V</em> is not particularly enrapturing; others find Promethean has&nbsp;<a href="http://chicagocritic.com/henry-v-2/">done</a> it's very <a href="http://chicagotheaterbeat.com/2012/05/09/review-henry-v-promethean-theatre/">best</a>.)</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>2. The University of Chicago&nbsp;<a href="http://arts.uchicago.edu/features/20120514_edes.shtml#.T7KrfkC6XHg.facebook">2012 Edes Prize</a></strong></span></span>&nbsp;goes to David Brent and Jack Mayer, the minds behind the previously profiled <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-10/powerless-just-your-average-superhero-comic-book-play-90300">superhero show</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-09/daily-rehearsal-sixth-bullet-original-live-movie-event-94762">the semi-regular live movie events</a>. "...with the Edes Prize to back them, Mayer and Brent can now think in terms of weeks-long runs, extending into in full three-show seasons, thereby allowing the individual works to grow and mature, and just as importantly, giving press and word of mouth the opportunity to help the artists build something repeatable and sustainable."&nbsp;They also get $30,000 which is enough money to basically make live movies for the rest of one's life, right guys?</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>3. I would be remiss</strong></span></span> if I didn't include <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/219396131504593/">Schadenfreude's NATO Loves You</a> show this weekend, and by that I mean, my boss would give me a hard time for not promoting his weekend activities.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/new%20leaf%20arcadia.jpg" style="float: right; width: 300px; height: 199px; " title="'Arcadia' at New Leaf, the company's last production. (Photo by Tom McGrath)"><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>4. As the gossip mill indicated</strong></span></span>, New Leaf Theatre is no more, though it's slightly unclear as to why. The jist seems to be: the theater was fun, the admin work, not so much. "[I]in conversations beginning last year...they began to come to the consensus that their self-managed administrative model was unsustainable," <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/theater/15361231/new-leaf-theatre-to-cease-operations">reports Kris Vire</a> in an exit interview with the founders. Also, there's grad school to be gone to and kids to be had. "I want to assure you that this decision was reached over a long period of time and was not the result of a calamity," wrote managing director Eleanor Hyde <a href="http://www.newleaftheatre.org/blog/2012/turning-a-new-leaf-a-message-from-eleanor-managing-director/">on the New Leaf Blog</a>. "We are not bankrupt, we are not imploding or exploding, we hope to work together in the future."&nbsp;Their last production,&nbsp;<em><a href="http://newleaftheatre.org/current.php">Arcadia</a>&nbsp;</em>directed by Jess Hutchinson,&nbsp;closes June 16.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>5. The Joffrey Ballet</strong></span></span> will <a href="http://www.theatreinchicago.com/newswire.php?newsID=728">now be accompanied</a> by the Chicago Philharmonic for all performances, collaboration that can probably be described as "pretty exciting".&nbsp;"Working with the Chicago Philharmonic will enable the Joffrey to perform to live music at all four of our Chicago season programs, something that wasn't always feasible in the past due to budgetary restrictions," said Executive Director Christopher Clinton Conway in a statement.&nbsp;</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Wed, 16 May 2012 09:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/daily-rehearsal-new-leaf-closes-shop-99196 Don’t-Miss List April 19-25: The Bard's birthday and more http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-04/don%E2%80%99t-miss-list-april-19-25-bards-birthday-and-more-98320 <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/AP11042207082_0.jpg" style="height: 903px; width: 620px;" title="Chicagoans celebrate the Bard's birthday in 2011. (AP/Nam Y. Huh) "></div><p><u><a href="http://www.salomeespeelt.be/">SALOMEE SPEELT</a>’S <em>La Musica</em>, 7:30 p.m. Thursday at <a href="http://chicagodramatists.org/">Chicago Dramatists</a>, 1105<br>W. Chicago Avenue; tickets $25</u><br><br>A Belgian theater company, a French author, French wine, even performances at <a href="http://www.af-chicago.org/app/homepage.php">Alliance<br>Francaise</a>: Who says Chicago ain’t a global city? Marguerite Duras, whose novels and plays<br>explore politics, eros and the politics of eros, wrote a 60-minute conversation between a pair of lovers who are breaking up–or perhaps not. Now Alice Austen, one of Chicago Dramatists’ resident playwrights, has written a new translation of Duras’ work, and the Belgian company Salomee Speelt is coming to town to perform it. This weekend (Thursday-Friday-Saturday) performances take place at Chicago Dramatists; the rest of the run (Fridays and Saturdays through May 12) is at Alliance Francaise, a mile or so closer to the lake at 54 W. Chicago Avenue. If you’re in the theater biz, attend a special $10 performance on Monday, May 7. -KK<br><br><u><a href="http://breakbone.com/">BONEdanse/Breakbone DanceCo</a>, <em>5-5-5</em>, 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday April 20 &amp; 21 at The Viaduct, 3111 N. Western Avenue; tickets $5</u><br><br>Breakbone, the brainchild of Chicago dancer-choreographer extraordinaire Atalee Judy,<br>celebrates the 15th anniversary of its take-no-prisoners style of dance with a quartet of<br>performances–two this weekend and two next. This time around five fashion designers will have five minutes to make something coherent out of whatever they can grab from an onstage clothing rack, at which point dancers will don the results and improvise for five minutes. If there could be such a thing as an avant-garde <em>Project Runway</em> meets <em>Dancing With the Stars</em>, this would be it. -KK</p><p>Or, if you prefer something slightly more conventional, show up same day/time/location next week for the full-length <em>This is a Damage Manual</em> (tickets a still-reasonable $15). Less a dance concert than a high-speed festival of ideas in motion, Judy’s work is always provocative and often thrilling.<br><br><u>Shakespeare’s Birthday, 5-9 p.m. Sunday April 22 at the Red Lion Lincoln Square, 4749 N.<br>Rockwell, FREE.</u> -KK<br><br>So the actual birthday isn’t til Monday, but that’s no reason to skip Sunday’s Open Mic celebration of the Bard of Avon. Come prepared with a quote, sonnet or speech by the birthday boy. You’ll also get a glimpse of <a href="http://www.prometheantheatre.org/">Promethean Theatre Ensemble</a>’s production of <em>Henry V</em>, which opens (appropriately enough) on 5/5. -KK</p><p><u>The Second City, <em>Who Do We Think We Are?; </em>8 p.m. Thursday – Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday, 1616 N. Wells Street; tickets $23</u></p><p>In the first half of the 20th Century, the single greatest influence shaping American comedy was vaudeville. Since 1959, the greatest shaper of American comedy—without a hint of a shadow of a doubt—has been The Second City. The nearly-endless list of Second City alums (including its predecessor companies) penetrates to the heart of comedy on TV, in movies, nightclubs and theater. We’re not talking merely comic actors here, but writers, directors and producers as well from Mike Nichols to John Belushi to Betty Thomas to David Steinberg to Tina Fey to Del Close to Joan Rivers and on and on and on. Last week, the original and still home-base Second City here in Chicago opened its 100th satirical comedy revue, <em>Who Do We Think We Are?</em>, created by the company as always. It’s set for an open run. It should be noted, too, that Bernard Sahlins, one of the three co-founders, still is alive and making theater in Chicago. -JA</p><p><u><a href="http://www.stridinglion.org/Home.html">Striding Lion Performance Group</a>, <em>The Jenkins Farm Projec</em>t and <em>Remember the . . . (Alamo)</em>, times and dates vary at The Viaduct, 3111 N. Western Avenue; tickets $20 for one show or $30 for both</u></p><p>Striding Lion Performance Group has been around for the better part of a decade creating singular work that draws on virtually all disciplines of live performance, and sometimes incorporates visual media as well. Although still a low-profile company, Striding Lion is notable for its artistic ambitions, clearly in evidence in two new pieces to be performed in repertory, <em>The Jenkins Farm Projec</em><em>t</em> and <em>Remember the . . . (Alamo)</em>. Performed to original music, the works feature choreography (by artistic director Annie Beserra) inspired by history and geography, so think family farm as it was Back Then and Mexican and American buckaroos. The Striding Lion rep is presented at The Viaduct through April 29. -JA</p></p> Tue, 17 Apr 2012 15:58:35 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-04/don%E2%80%99t-miss-list-april-19-25-bards-birthday-and-more-98320