WBEZ | Chris Jones http://www.wbez.org/tags/chris-jones Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The CityArts Program: an open letter to DCASE http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-17/cityarts-program-open-letter-dcase-94126 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-17/Boone.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Early last April, when Rahm Emanuel merely was Mayor-Elect, I used this blog space to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-12/rham-boeing-and-arts-modest-proposal-84952">send him an open letter</a> about the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/provdrs/grants/svcs/city_arts_applicationsummary.html">CityArts Program</a>. I never heard back from him. I was disappointed because Rahm had recently cited a theater review by my colleague, Chris Jones, in the Tribune, and saw an Off-Loop play based on Jones’s favorable write-up. Since I am older than Chris and have a much-longer career as a journalist, I naturally assumed the Mayor-Elect would pay attention to me. After all, I am Chicago’s senior theater critic (true), but that and $4.35 will get you coffee at Starbucks.</p><p>I know, however, that members of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) have read my <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-03/dcase-does-do-over-93712">last</a> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-08/dcase-do-over-part-ii-93799">two</a> blog posts here, which have been about the restructuring of DCASE now taking place. With that in mind, I’m revising my April Open Letter to Rahm as a memo to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-19/citys-new-culture-czar-looks-future-89343">DCASE Commissioner Michelle T. Boone</a>. I hope you’re reading this, Commish.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-17/Boone.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 280px; height: 195px; " title="(Courtesy of the City of Chicago)">MEMO TO MICHELLE BOONE</p><p>Over the years I've been an arts business reporter, one of my favorite annual stories has been the grants made to local cultural organizations through CityArts, initiated in 1979 through the Department of Cultural Affairs (now DCASE). CityArts doesn't give a lot of money to any one artist or entity, but it gives a modest amount of money to a great many, thereby spreading the City's largesse (alright, the taxpayers' largesse) far and wide to virtually every 'hood in town.</p><p>Grants are based on the budgetary size of the applicant in four tiers ranging from emerging arts organizations with annual cash income under $150,000, to institutions with annual income of $2 million and up. At Tier I, the current maximum grant request is $3,000, which can make a big difference to a little troupe operating on $50,000 a year. At Tier IV the maximum grant is $10,000, which makes virtually no difference at all to a museum or orchestra or theater with a budget of $15-$50 million a year. Still, it might fund an internship or three and it gives to the recipient the imprimatur of the City of Chicago.</p><p>CityArts is a joyful idea precisely BECAUSE there are far more small non-profit cultural organizations than large ones and far more grant recipients in the lower tiers than in the top tier, so for once most of the bucks are going to the little guys rather than the same old big guys. Even better, I’ve never heard a complaint that CityArts is unfair or clout-connected. Hey, $3,000 hardly is enough money to waste your clout on—if you have any clout. In short, the CityArts Program has been a model of how public money should be spent and how a city program should be administered.</p><p>Now, CityArts has NEVER been funded at more than $1 million a year since the program started. Still, in its best years, CityArts makes grants to several hundred organizations large and small covering arts education, choirs, dance, theater, instrumental ensembles, children’s' arts programs, museums, social service agency arts programs, concert series, film, TV, new media, etc., etc. As long as an organization has a cultural function, and meets application guidelines (including, for example, proof of liability insurance), it's eligible for a CityArts grant, and also can apply for a renewal of the grant in two successive years.</p><p>In this manner, CityArts has distributed thousands of grants totaling $22 million in 33 years. It's hardly a notch in the total outlays of the City of Chicago, but CityArts has had major impact. Even so, the diversity and basic fairness of this program have not protected it from budget cuts. Since the economy tanked four years ago, CityArts has been reduced by 50% and currently is funded at $500,000 a year.</p><p>But right now the Mayor and DCASE have an opportunity to engineer a major, vital and important retooling of CityArts. It is time to privatize the CityArts Program or, more accurately, to turn it into a significant public-private partnership. Let the City pledge $1 million annually to CityArts, which sum to be matched by a corporate sponsor in return for naming rights. Suddenly, CityArts would be quadrupled. The point would not be to increase the size of the CityArts grants (well, maybe a little) but to greatly increase the NUMBER of grants.</p><p>What say Chicago and the Boeing Company (for example) enter into a 10-year partnership to fund the CityArts Program? Boeing would have its name splashed on more programs and posters and websites and tweets and Facebook pages and press releases than it can count, and actually would be doing genuine good at an extremely modest cost on a city-wide basis, bringing arts and culture to every corner of town.</p><p>Even better, why not ask Boeing if they would make their matching grant upfront? The funds could be placed in an escrow account or trust that would earn sufficient interest to extend the life of the program: the Boeing CityArts Trust.</p><p>If not Boeing, there certainly are many other possible private partners from the financial, industrial and service sectors of the Chicago economy. Why not ask Donald Trump? What's he doing in Chicago besides collecting rent and paying reduced property taxes? &nbsp;What about the Harris Bank? Or Macy’s? Or the CBOE? What about Chicago Community Trust or the MacArthur Foundation? Would they partner on CityArts? How about a giant Chicago general contractor? Can you envision the Pepper Construction CityArts Trust?</p><p>Mayor Emanuel already has discussed both privatization (he’s done it with blue cart garbage pick-up) and the sale of advertising on public structures (such as bridges), so my proposal would seem to mesh with his economic ideas. Also, in 2012 DCASE expects to create a comprehensive cultural plan for Chicago, as Emanuel promised to do when running for mayor. It would be more than appropirate to include an expansion of CityArts as part of that plan.</p></p> Thu, 17 Nov 2011 13:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-17/cityarts-program-open-letter-dcase-94126 Daily Rehearsal: The most influential theater critics in America http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-01/daily-rehearsal-most-influential-theater-critics-america-93656 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-01/theaterloop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1.&nbsp;Raven Theatre&nbsp;has gotten a grant from NEA</strong></span></span>&nbsp;to host <em>The Big Read</em>, a program "designed to restore reading to the center of American culture." This means they'll have events like&nbsp;read-a-thons, book discussions, lectures, movie screenings, and performances. This time around, the choice is<font color="#000000"><font face="Times New Roman, serif"><font size="3">&nbsp;</font></font></font><em>Sun, Stone, and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories,</em> edited by&nbsp;Jorge F. Hernández. The Kick-off party is November 19 at the Rogers Park Chicago Public Library, and <em>The Big Read Big Show</em> will be December 6.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong>2. Jennifer Lim&nbsp;is getting fair praise </strong></span></span>ever since the production of <em>Chinglish </em>moved to Broadway. <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203554104577001900772520474.html?KEYWORDS=Teachout"><em>The Wall Street Journal</em> said</a>, "This is Ms. Lim's Broadway debut, and she's a knockout, tough, smart and sexy. She's more than a match for <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-28/daily-rehearsal-non-look-new-laugh-factory-93571">Mr. Wilmes</a>, who seems to think that Ohio businessmen talk like Garry Shandling."&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. There are some heated comments about Shakespeare</strong></span></span> <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2011/10/28/shakespeare-exposed">over at the <em>Reader</em></a>; they follow Tony Adler's piece about <em>Anonymous</em>, the new movie that heavily aligns itself with the Oxfordian theory (that Shakespeare was actually the 17th Earl of Oxford). I love how this dude who has been dead for ages is still causing so many problems.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-01/W2Mimagewithcredits.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 219px;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Remember <a href="http://www.adventurestage.org/pages/walk_two_moons/195.php"><em>Walk Two Moons</em></a></strong></span></span>? Did you grow up in the 90s? Do you have children who grew up in the 90s? You know allll about Sharon Creech then. Personally, I was more of a fan of <em>Chasing Redbird</em>, though why I have no idea. Anywho, the main character Sal "ultimately realizes that things - and people - are not always what they seem" through her journies. Because if you walk a mile in another man's shoes, you'll know them, remember? It opens this weekend at Adventure Stage.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. Missed this last week</strong></span></span>, but <a href="http://tcg.org/publications/at/nov11/critical_juncture.cfm">here's a list of 12 of the most influential theater critics in American theater</a>, and you've guessed it, Chris Jones is right there in the midst of it all. Jones describes the Chicago-region as "blue-collar, profane and prone to violence."&nbsp;Written by David Cote, theater critic at <em>TimeOut New York</em>,&nbsp;the list actually garnered response in the comments from someone who made the list:&nbsp;Robert Faires, the Arts Editor of <em>The Austin Chronicle</em>. What I noticed: we're talking about a lot of old white men.&nbsp;</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 01 Nov 2011 14:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-01/daily-rehearsal-most-influential-theater-critics-america-93656 Daily Rehearsal: Global warming is super funny http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-13/daily-rehearsal-global-warming-super-funny-93122 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-13/sizzle.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-13/sizzle.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 250px; height: 357px; " title=""><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>1. <a href="http://www.newsuittheatre.com/sizzle.html"><em>Sizzle</em></a>'s final preview is this Friday&nbsp;</strong></span></span>at the West Stage of Raven Theatre. It's a production by New Suit Theatre and goes where Al Gore couldn't, in this "global warming comedy." It's based off of not Gore's film, but from a documentary by Dr. Randy Olson. Melding mediums for the better.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>2. Ah, <em>Follies</em></strong></span></span>. <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/theaterloop/ct-ott-1014-follies-review-20111012,0,2326749.column">Chris Jones gave the musical</a> that's making him <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-07/daily-rehearsal-dionne-warwick-interior-designer-92929">reexamine his entire life</a> four stars (or squares, as it were). And read <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/weiss/8144384-452/chicago-shakespeare-theaters-follies-dazzles-at-every-turn.html">Hedy Weiss' review</a> just for the first paragraph, trust me. &nbsp;Jones ends on a somber note: "...none of us is perfect. Just a little wiser and sadder as we go."</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Lucia Mauro was on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-13/theater-and-film-classics-inspiring-chicagos-dance-scene-93116"><em>848 </em>this morning</a></strong></span></span> discussing the latest dance performances that were heavily inspired by film and theater. Lucky Plush's<em> The Better Half </em>takes a note or two from the 1940s thriller <em>Gaslight</em>, while <em>Dancing Henry 5</em> refers to what you think it refers to.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Robert Loerzel <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-loerzel/chicagos-theater-season-o_b_1001416.html">writes about</a> the best of this fall's theater season</strong></span></span>, and though it's all stuff you've heard of, he digs up a great quote from the <em>Tribune</em>'s critic in 1936, Charles Collins did back in 1936. Writing about that year's fall theater scene, Collins said, "I come up from under the heavy wave of first nights ... blinking my eyes and shaking stars out of my hair. This has been a surfeit of pleasures akin to a debauch." Woah boy.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>5. This is not even tenously connected to Chicago</strong></span></span> (as far as I can tell) but it is about theater, and is really cute; the cast of Broadway's<em>&nbsp;Lysistrata Jones</em> is being coached by former NBA All-Star player Chris Mullin.<a href="http://video.nytimes.com/video/2011/10/12/arts/100000001108847/broadway-basketball.html"> This video</a> of the cast frolicking about and learning to play basketball is very cute and reminds me a bit of summer camp for adults.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Thu, 13 Oct 2011 15:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-13/daily-rehearsal-global-warming-super-funny-93122 Daily Rehearsal: Playwright Unit participants announced http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-12/daily-rehearsal-playwright-unit-participants-announced-93089 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-12/dawkins2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-12/dawkins2.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 150px; height: 212px; " title="Philip Dawkins (Photo by Nicole Radja)"><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>1. Look into <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/theaterloop/ct-ent-1012-fear-city-review-20111011,0,3061353.column">Fear City with Chris Jones</a></strong></span></span>; "Halloween will be the last day for a remarkable new walk-though attraction that goes far, far beyond the typical theme-park, chain-saw grottoes or the suburban warehouses full of fake fog and cliched gore." My interest is piqued! "You may have seen scarier haunted houses than Fear City — although, on several occasions, I jumped halfway to the ceiling — but I very much doubt you seen a more artful or fully realized Halloween milieu." Open at 7 (at night of course).&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>2. The Goodman has announced their second annual</strong></span></span>, season-long Playwrights' Unit participants; they include Philip Dawkins, Nambi E. Kelley, Elaine Romero and Martin Zimmerman. At least one name shouldn't sound too unfamiliar; Dawkins you'll know from his show <em>The Homosexuals</em>. The point of the residency is to develop new plays, which they'll read in the spring. Get writing, y'all.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>3. <a href="http://www.lifelinetheatre.com/performances/11-12/13clocks/index.shtml"><em>The 13 Clocks</em></a> opens at Lifeline Theatre</strong></span></span> this weekend. It's a fairytale, but not one I've heard before: "Once upon a time, in a gloomy castle on a lonely hill, where there were thirteen clocks that wouldn’t go, there lived a cold, aggressive Duke, and his niece, the Princess Saralinda...." "Agressive"?</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-12/Cinematic Titanic photo_1_full.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 240px; " title="Cinematic Titanic"><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>4.&nbsp;Steppenwolf’s <em>Clybourne Park</em></strong></span></span> is&nbsp;now playing through November 13. New tickets for November 8 through the new, real end, go on sale this Friday at 11 am.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>5.&nbsp;Elgin Community College Arts Center is putting on "Cinematic Titanic"</strong></span></span>, a "feature-length LIVE movie" from those that brought you <em>Mystery Science Theater 3000</em>.&nbsp;<em>Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks</em> is at 7:30 pm, and <em>Blood of the Vampires</em> at 10 pm. I don't know which is better, so use your best judgment, or read the following blurbs. The former is "chock-full of angry villagers, grave robbers and (obviously) skinny dippers", and the latter has "blood-soaked action for the guys, tender romance for the ladies and unleashed demonic rage for the frightened child within us all." Wear your costume, they'll have the popcorn.&nbsp;</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Wed, 12 Oct 2011 16:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-12/daily-rehearsal-playwright-unit-participants-announced-93089 Daily Rehearsal: Dionne Warwick, interior designer? http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-07/daily-rehearsal-dionne-warwick-interior-designer-92929 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-07/dionnewarwick_flickr_istolethetv.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. Dionne Warwick, interior designer?</strong></span></span> The singer you know best from your easy-listening radio days in the 60s, 70s and 80s (and today!) has <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/8072248-421/dionne-warwick-to-design-black-ensemble-theater-interior.html">taken on the job of redoing the&nbsp;Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center</a>. "The color scheme will be in hues of reds, oranges, beiges, browns and grays," said Warwick. "It will be a vibrant, classy, comfortable space, with a modern chandelier and memorabilia of the theater’s decades of past productions exhibited on the lobby walls."&nbsp;I hope hope hope the theater isn't singing this tune:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/nFvLcCDvdEA" width="480"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. The Pavement Group has announced their 2012 season</strong></span></span> with two world premieres; "Girl You Know It's True" and "Breaks and Bikes." None of this will open until the spring, but Pavement's Amuse Bouche will be at Collaboraction in December. That piece is a 24-hour play style situation, except there are 72-hours and six plays. Look for that December 9.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. The <a href="http://imeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/comedy/14973981/live-review-doug-stanhope-at-mayne-">reviews </a>are in for Doug Stanhope</strong></span></span>'s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-04/daily-rehearsal-yellowman-extended-92801">performances this week</a> at Mayne Stage. Also performing at the show was one Junior Stopka, who <em>TimeOut Chicago </em>calls out as potentially "the biggest breakthrough right now in Chicago comedy." And though the end of the show got a little rowdy, Jason Heidemann writes&nbsp;"I liked Stanhope so much that I wanted to knock on Stanhope's door in Bisbee, Arizona holding a bottle of whiskey. I don't think Stanhope would appreciate that, but I do think he'd let me in."</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-07/welts.jpg" style="margin: 10px; float: left; width: 225px; height: 300px;" title="Um, ew."><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Remember when Chris Jones <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-13/daily-rehearsal-joe-frank-returns-steppenwolf-91914">went to New York</a> to see <em>Follies</em>?</strong></span></span> You know, because <em>Follies </em>was coming to Chicago and it's important to do comparisons? He wasn't overwhelmingly excited about the New York production, but he's taken a look inside the future Chicago Shakes production helmed by Gary Griffin, and things are looking up. Though the subject matter seems to be repeatedly hitting close to home; "At the end of the night," <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/ct-ott-1007-jones-loop-20111005,0,5749907.story">writes Jones</a>, "you can stage it one way or another, play it on a dozen instruments or power up twice that number. <em>Follies </em>is about our inability to stop the debilitating passage of time."</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. Tonight it's <a href="http://www.annoyanceproductions.com/welts/index.shtml"><em>Welts </em></a>at the Annoyance</strong></span></span>, which sounds actually painful, if not metaphorically so. "Armed with a different type of weapon each week, the Welts Players inflict excruciating physical pain on one another while improvising a montage of freely associated scenes, based on a suggestion from the audience. Only two rules apply. Rule one: do not acknowledge the weapons. Rule two: use your weapon whenever you want." I hope for everyone's sake this is stage acting at its finest.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Fri, 07 Oct 2011 15:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-07/daily-rehearsal-dionne-warwick-interior-designer-92929 Daily Rehearsal: Joe Frank returns to Steppenwolf http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-13/daily-rehearsal-joe-frank-returns-steppenwolf-91914 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-13/27074_372825587507_35845197507_3529269_4786773_n.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-13/27074_372825587507_35845197507_3529269_4786773_n.jpg" style="margin: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 229px;" title="Joe Frank at Steppenwolf in 2010 (Photo by Michal Story)"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. <a href="http://www.writerstheatre.org/boxoffice/production?id=0081"><em>The Real Thing</em></a> opens today at Writer's Theatre</strong></span></span>. "A married playwright blurs the line between reality and his dramas on the stage as his personal life unravels before his very eyes." It was written by Tom Stoppard (and thought to be loosely based on his life).&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. Court Theatre's <em><a href="http://www.courttheatre.org/season/show/spunk/">Spunk&nbsp;</a></em>opened this past weekend</strong></span></span>, and time will tell if it'll reach the popularity of <em>Porgy and Bess</em> (I'm doubting it). The play combines some interesting elements; the story of Zora Neale Hurston has been adapted by George C. Wolfe with heavy use of the blues, to bring to life the Harlem Renaissance.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Wondering why <em>Time Out Chicago</em> </strong></span></span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-08/daily-rehearsal-colin-quinn-drops-some-wisdom-second-city-91695"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>featured</strong></span></span> such ridiculously thorough</a> coverage of the Chicago Fringe Festival? Word on the street is that Theater Editor Kris Vire is a big fan and supporter of the festival. In <a href="http://chicagoplays.com/component/idoblog/?view=idoblog&amp;args=Blogs&amp;recentid=130">more Fringe news</a>, they explain why they picked Pilsen for their location, how they had to be creative with their spaces because of that, and what they're all about.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Chris Jones takes us through <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/theaterloop/chi-follies-review-broadway-20110912,0,6030240.column">his thoughts</a></strong></span></span> on the New York version of <em>Follies</em>, a show that's going up at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater this fall. "The hardest part of <em>Follies</em>, now at least, is making us believe that the actual live-changing revelations and life-and-love decisions being made at the reunion — for some an excuse to wallow, for others a call to action — are happening, credibly, in real time, even as the pastiches of the past and present are unfolding," writes Jones.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. Our old friend<a href="http://joefrank.com/"> Joe Frank</a> will be at Steppenwolf</strong></span></span> on October 10, performing his new show <em>Too Close to Home</em>, about visiting his parents in their Florida retirement home. He'll be joined by James Harrah on guitar. Frank's show airs on WBEZ on Sunday nights.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 13 Sep 2011 14:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-13/daily-rehearsal-joe-frank-returns-steppenwolf-91914 Director vs. text, round 2; Robert Falls and Chris Jones, Stephen Sondheim and the New York Times http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-15/director-vs-text-round-2-robert-falls-and-chris-jones-stephen-sondh <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-15/Screen shot 2011-08-15 at 9.41.53 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-11/stephensondheim_ap_hennyrayabrams.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 212px; height: 300px; " title="Stephen Sondheim recently called out the NYT over 'Porgy and Bess' (AP/Henny Ray Abrams)">When last Sunday's <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/theater/porgy-and-bess-with-audra-mcdonald.html?_r=1&amp;pagewanted=all"><em>New York Times</em> described with sympathy director Diane Paulus's radical approach to <em>Porgy &amp; Bess</em></a>. the story provoked <a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/10/stephen-sondheim-takes-issue-with-plan-for-revamped-porgy-and-bess/">an episode of high dudgeon from Stephen Sondheim</a>, who argued that the changes proposed would create not the Gershwins' <em>Porgy &amp; Bess</em> but Ms. Paulus's. Mr. Sondheim's objection, he emphasized, was not to the as-yet-unseen production but to the director's attitude (as he understood it) toward both text and audience.</p><p>So when this Sunday's <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/theaterloop/ct-ae-0814-goodman-20110812,0,5995809.column"><em>Chicago Tribune</em> described with admiration Robert Falls's radical approaches to <em>King Lear</em> and <em>Desire Under the Elms</em></a>, I felt <a href="http://www.wbez.org/kkleiman/2009/02/falls-calls-out-wbez-critic/1593">bolstered</a> in my own <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2009/02/26/when-bob-falls-calls">episodes of high dudgeon concerning those productions</a>. The issue is less the productions themselves than the attitude ascribed to Mr. Falls toward audience and text alike.</p><p>Chris Jones begins his article with an approving citation of Mr. Falls's comment on a snowy opening night that he was glad the weather would keep "the riff-raff" out of the theater. I suspect Mr. Falls was joking but Mr. Jones chose to take him at his word, and to ground the rest of his hagiographic portrait in precisely the notion that Mr. Falls's work is so radical and original that it outstrips the capacity of the audience to understand it. Again, I seriously doubt this is Mr. Falls's actual belief, but the idea that it would be admirable if it were reveals an attitude toward the audience that casts an unattractive light on Mr. Jones, Mr. Falls or both.</p><p>And then there's the issue of the text. Mr. Jones praises the Falls <em>King Lear</em> for its "robust physical and intellectual idea for every last breathing beat of that magnum opus," while I'm less interested in wildly original beats than in interpretations of entire plays. At the risk of sounding hopelessly pre-postmodern, I believe the director's job is to figure out what the play means — and yes, that incorporates what the author intended, even if his/her intentions are as far from the results as "What you say/what your dog hears."*&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-15/Screen shot 2011-08-15 at 9.41.53 AM.png" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 300px; height: 287px; " title="">Mr. Falls clearly approaches most texts from the perspective of, "What's never been done to this text before?" Sometimes this results in phenomenal perspective-altering work, a multi-level <em>Seagull </em>emphasizing the parallels between Chekhov's play and <em>Hamlet</em>, or a brilliant <em>Long Day's Journey Into Night</em> demonstrating that the play belongs to Mary and not to the three men who surround and attempt to dominate her, or a production of <em>Dollhouse</em>, Rebecca Gilman's adaptation of Ibsen's <em>A Doll's House</em>, that manages to be as radical in our time as Ibsen was in his. These productions (and many others over the years of his tenure at the Goodman and Wisdom Bridge) represent approaches to text that are fresh but also respectful of what the play is actually about.</p><p>But sometimes the search for what's never been done results in the mugging of a defenseless text by a pitiless concept. Mr. Falls's <em>King Lear</em> was about sex while Shakespeare's is about death. Mr. Falls's <em>Desire Under the Elms</em>, conversely, was about death while O'Neill's is about sex. Play texts are not infinitely malleable: if the playwright calls for elms on stage, even naming the play after them, there damn well ought to be elms on stage. If a play's text is unsatisfactory to the director--if s/he wants to communicate something else--then s/he should direct a different play.&nbsp;</p><p>But was Mr. Sondheim really reacting to Ms. Paulus's behavior, or just to its description in the <em>Times</em>? Likewise, am I reacting to Mr. Falls, or just to Mr. Jones?</p><p>I guess it's a matter of interpretation.</p><p>-------</p><p>*What you say: "You're a bad girl, Daisy! Never do that again, Daisy! I'm telling you for the last time, Daisy! Are you listening to me, Daisy?"</p><p>What your dog hears: "Flooble-flooble, Daisy! Inka-dinka, Daisy! Klatu barata nikto, Daisy! Scooby-dooby-do, Daisy?"</p></p> Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-15/director-vs-text-round-2-robert-falls-and-chris-jones-stephen-sondh Daily Rehearsal: Rhys Darby of 'Flight of the Conchords' lands in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-27/daily-rehearsal-rhys-darby-flight-conchords-lands-chicago-89700 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-27/flight of theconchords_aphbo_Craig Blankenhorn.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. <em>Pornography </em>opens this weekend from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.steeptheatre.com/shows/shows_main.html">Steep</a></strong></span></span>, and before you get all hot and bothered, it's not really all about that. It's more about a terrorist attack in the U.K. in 2005. The cast features both the&nbsp;2010 and 2011 winners of the Jeff Award for Best Actress, Kendra Thulin&nbsp;and Caroline Neff.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-27/side man.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 223px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. KaTet Theater has <a href="http://katettheatre.org/"><em>Side Man</em></a>&nbsp;opening this weekend</strong></span></span>, about Clifford, who recalls his New York City family and their love of jazz over a period of 30 years. You might remember <em>Side Man</em>; it won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Play. Check out <a href="http://katettheatre.org/2011/07/">their blog</a> for remarks from several of the actors and producers over the weeks of rehearsal, and their emotional connection to the piece.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Things look better for <a href="http://www.actone.com/">Act One Studios</a></strong></span></span>&nbsp;than they have recently; their website, in a flurry of fireworks and with the phrase "An Angel Arrived", has annoucned that they've gotten some new funds and free rent, which should alleviate some of their debt issues. The acting studio told <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2011/07/26/no-last-act-yet-for-act-one-studios">the Reader</a> that “It's really embarrassing" but that they're making it work.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4.&nbsp;When I say "casino" you probably don't say "high-class entertainment."</strong></span></span> But&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/theaterloop/ct-ent-0727-focus-casinos-20110726,0,6038180.column?page=1&amp;track=rss" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;">Chris Jones looks at&nbsp;</a>casinos around the country and what kind of shows they brought with them, from Celine Dion to Cirque du Solei. "Regardless, don't expect somebody to build the biggest theater in Chicago just for Dion, and hope only for warm bodies headed for the casino," says Jones.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-27/flight of theconchords_aphbo_Craig Blankenhorn.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 200px; margin: 10px; float: right;" title="Rhys Darby, left, in Flight of the Conchords (AP-HBO/Craig Blankenhorn)"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5.&nbsp;Like the Flight of the Conchords? Of course you do!</strong></span></span> Rhys Darby, who played manager Murray on the HBO show of the same name, was at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.improv.com/Search/?searchTerm=rhys" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;">Improv this weekend</a>&nbsp;for a jam-packed set of shows (5). Jenna Marotta of&nbsp;<a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/comedy/14866445/live-review-rhys-darby-at-the-improv" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;">TimeOut says</a>&nbsp;of Darby's performance, "Basically, Darby is a good comedian to go see with your mom. I did." Darby was also considered one of the potential Steve Carell replacements for The Office, and at least a few feel that his New Zealand touch would have been a welcome homage to Ricky Gervais' British version.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Wed, 27 Jul 2011 14:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-27/daily-rehearsal-rhys-darby-flight-conchords-lands-chicago-89700 Daily Rehearsal: Trib redesigns their theater section http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-07/daily-rehearsal-trib-redesigns-their-theater-section-88824 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-07/theaterloop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. The <a href="http://www.neofuturists.org/">Neo-Futurists</a> have announced their 23rd season</strong></span></span>. They'll be running&nbsp;<i>Chalk and Saltwater: The Ladder Project</i>&nbsp;by&nbsp;John Pierson,&nbsp;<i>Burning Bluebeard</i>&nbsp;by&nbsp;Jay Torrence, and&nbsp;<i>The Strange and Terrible True Story of Pinocchio (the wooden boy) as Told by Frankenstein's Monster (the wretched creature)</i>&nbsp;by&nbsp;Greg Allen. The most promising looks to be <em>Chalk and Saltwater</em>, which "dissects the failure of Edgar Davis’ 1926 Broadway production of <em>The Ladder</em>, the longest running flop in American theatre history."&nbsp; It all starts in September, and of course, <em>Too Much Light</em> is still running, forever and a day.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-07/Hamlet.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 201px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. <a href="http://www.oracletheatre.org/Hamlet_free.htm"><em>Hamlet </em></a>opened at the Oracle last night</strong></span></span>, and features a motley crew of actors, some of whom have performed at Shakespeare in the Park, and others of whom have just graduated college. Can YOU tell who's who? (Well maybe, but only by age.)</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. <em>Here's the Story</em>,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-29/daily-rehearsal-start-planning-your-4th-july-88498"> The Moth</a>-with-food show</strong></span></span> where people tell stories, <a href="http://heresthestory.org/2011/06/july-6ths-show-featuring/">was last night</a>, and is every first Wednesday of the month at Theater Wit. This months performance included Susan Messing, who remarked on how rare it was for her to be telling a <em>true </em>story (<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-22/daily-rehearsal-chicago-theater-622-88196"><em>Messing With a Friend</em></a> is not so autobiographical), and she jokingly passed out non-disclosure agreements to those present.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">4. Meghan Beals McCarthy was chosen out of a nationwide search</span></strong></span> as the Chicago Dramatists new Associate Artistic Director. Her position was originally created via a grant, and because that money is ending, McCarthy will also be part-time Director of Youth and Community Programming.&nbsp;</p><p>5.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>The Trib has redesigned their Theater section</strong></span></span>, dubbed "<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/theaterloop/" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;">The Theater Loop</a>." You'll get: "News. Criticism. Commentary. The shows not to be missed — and the showso avoid at all costs." It looks like its all part of the Trib's new redesign&nbsp;that&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-06-16/news/chi-reaction-to-the-chicago-tribune-redesign-20110616_1_gerould-w-kern-readers-special-report" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;">launched a few weeks ago</a>.</p><p><span style="font-family: 'Arial','sans-serif';"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-07/theaterloop.jpg" style="border-style: none; width: 500px; height: 267px; margin: 10px;" title=""></p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="http://kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Thu, 07 Jul 2011 14:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-07/daily-rehearsal-trib-redesigns-their-theater-section-88824 Illini lineman arrested in possible hate crime http://www.wbez.org/story/illini-lineman-arrested-possible-hate-crime-88752 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-05/AP051119027277.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>An Illinois football player arrested in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime has a previous felony conviction for cocaine possession.</p><p>Champaign police say they arrested 20-year-old defensive lineman Chris Jones on Sunday on a preliminary aggravated battery charge after two men reported he punched them outside a bar. The men said Jones was in a car whose occupants shouted anti-homosexual insults at them.</p><p>University spokesman Kent Brown said Jones has been suspended. Jones hasn't entered plea and has not responded to an e-mail from The Associated Press.&nbsp;</p><p>Jones is a 310-pound freshman from Jacksonville, Fla. Duval County, Fla., records show Jones pleaded guilty in July 2010 to cocaine possession and was sentenced to 60 days probation.&nbsp;</p><p>Brown said coach Ron Zook is aware of that conviction.</p></p> Tue, 05 Jul 2011 19:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/illini-lineman-arrested-possible-hate-crime-88752