The tree set in the middle of the eta stage is a riot of color. Its trunk, painted with streaks of neon, is strewn with vines and stamped with a variety of West African adinkra icons. Hanging from a branch is a lone, glittering red ornament—the apple in this retelling of the biblical origin story, and a nod to Christmas and the tradition of nativity plays, to which In De’ Beginnin’ pays slight homage with the timing of its current run. The prominent and idiosyncratic set piece, however, is the first clue that this retelling of the origin story will be anything but by The Book.
Chicago’s so small,” marvels fifteen-year-old Dontay, poring over a world map with Damonte, Demetrius (Dre), and D’Quan. “I don’t see my street.” So begins a distinctly large journey: four teenage bucket drummers from Englewood have left the South Side, boarded their first airplane, and emerged among the driving drumbeats and crowded beaches outside Dakar, Senegal.
If you ask Kemati Porter, the executive director of eta Creative Arts Foundation, about the future of her theater, she will first tell you about its past. It’s the only answer that makes sense. How could anyone understand what eta needs to be right now if they don’t know that Maya Angelou used to line-dance in its back room?
The flood is a story about community building, of community won and community lost.
A quartet of male performers walks solemnly onto dirt and rock, holding steel sheets above their heads. An aerial view of a flock of birds flying over the Calumet industrial corridor is projected onto two jagged concrete pillars with a break of open space at its center. The performers break away from formation and scrape the metal sheets in feverish circular motions, creating clouds of dust. Already the performers embody the spirit of steel mill workers and mimic the machines surrounding them.
In 1962, television viewers across the nation watched, mouths agape, as boxer Emile Griffith delivered blow after blow to the head of his opponent Benny Paret. The last blows ultimately proved fatal; Paret died after a ten-day coma. It was an event so shocking that the sport of boxing was barred from free television until the 1970s.
“CHTF advertises an entirely new dimension of accessibility.”
A play about double identities pushes the boundaries between humor and drama
“Wherever we land is home.”
They are available for viewing if you know where to look.