Reset checks in with actors David Schwimmer and Anthony Fleming III to discuss their involvement with Lookingglass Theatre Company and for their recommendations on what to read, watch and do.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
David, you co-founded Lookingglass Theatre Company in 1988 when you were a student at Northwestern University. What’s it been like watching the company grow and put on nationally-recognized productions all these years?
David Schwimmer: I mean, I swell with pride. We just celebrated our 33rd birthday in February. And to have folks like Anthony, someone I met through a production at Lookingglass, who now is an incredible force for the company and as an actor, as a producer, as a theater maker.
It’s just amazing to me to see kind of the next generation thrive and and flourish. This is something that, you know, we you know, we started as kids and now we’re like the parents. And really watching the company take off with this younger generation is really inspiring.
Anthony, what has this year looked like for you? And what are you hearing from your friends and colleagues in the industry?
Anthony Fleming III: It’s been a challenge in a lot of ways, like it has been for a lot of people in Chicago and a lot of people in the entire country. But there have been great moments as well. So although the pandemic and the quarantine has had its downside, I like to try to stay positive as much as I can. And it has really allowed me to spend good quality time at home with the wife, with my kids and really watching and being into those moments that we miss.
A lot of my friends have been able to keep teaching virtually, which has been great. Theater classes for middle school and high schoolers. But besides the financial hit, which has been substantial, it’s just the missing performing, missing being on stage or on screen and storytelling the way that we do here in Chicago.
David, Lookingglass is hoping to return sometime this year. Tell us more about the virtual gala event Thursday night.
Schwimmer: Across the country, a lot of not-for-profits like ours had to close their doors — many permanently. We are hanging on, clinging by our fingernails.
Tomorrow is really a celebration — letting people know not only are we still here at work, we’re going to come roaring back. And with the help of the community and with friends, family and hopefully some new new folks that we’re going to introduce our work to tomorrow night and who we are tomorrow night in this event.
We’re all just pulling together because we need to let the community know that Lookingglass is here to stay, that the arts are important no matter where you are in the country and you got to support artists and homes like this in your own community.
What to read
1. Tom Stoppard: A Life by Hermione Lee
2. My Vanishing Country: A Memoir by Bakari Sellers
3. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson
4. Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven
5. The Cool Impossible by Eric Orton
6. Nutrition labels
What to watch
7. Losing Alice (Apple TV+)
8. Bonding (Netflix)
9. Marley (Magnolia Pictures)
10. Bluey (Disney Jr.)
11. Sacha Baron Cohen’s keynote address at the 2019 Anti-Defamation League conference
What to do
12. Supporting your neighborhood restaurants, diners and pubs
13. Interviewing an older relative about their family history and recording it
14. Hydrate, go outside
15. Cook or bake something new
16. Listen to podcasts
GUESTS: David Schwimmer, actor; co-founder and ensemble member of the Lookingglass Theatre Company
Anthony Fleming III, Chicago-based stage, film, TV actor and voiceover artist; Lookingglass Theatre Company ensemble member