I enjoy food. The second I finish the last bite of my breakfast I’m contemplating what I’m going to have for lunch. I have a liberal palate with no dietary restrictions, and I appreciate most flavor profiles. I can chow down with glee at a she-she poo-poo-laa white linen tablecloth reservations-only restaurant, or get my grub on just fine at the hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon, as long as the food and the vibe are good. There are few deal-breakers for me when it comes to a meal, so if I tell you there is a place where I’ve eaten but I won’t be back, you may want to listen. Draw your own conclusions, of course, but here are some of mine.
This January, the Smart Museum of Art welcomed two new exhibitions which pose important questions about identity and inclusion. The museum’s front gallery houses “Solidary & Solitary” from the Joyner/Giuffrida Collection. It consists of mostly abstract works created by artists of the African diaspora, and serves as a meditation on what it means to be a Black artist moving in solidarity with the race while maintaining a solitary identity. The rear gallery space features “Smart to the Core: Embodying the Self,” which presents provocative ways to contemplate the self-portrait.
Black women across the globe of a certain age have either read, watched, auditioned for, or performed in some iteration of playwright Ntozake Shange’s award-winning classic choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When The Rainbow Is Enuf. Now through April 14, Court Theatre brings to the stage impeccable professional production quality, a director who performed in the original 1976 Broadway production, and a multitalented cast—plus all the heart one can hold—in the show’s current iteration.
What if you had the chance to become your city’s first Black mayor, or you had the chance to give an old man back the house you stole from him in a one-hundred-percent illegal land grab, but you could not do both. Which would you choose?
If you have seen one of Jackie Taylor’s plays at the Black Ensemble Theater in Uptown, you have pretty much seen them all. The latest incarnation of her brand of concert-style musical theater peppered with somewhat preachy teachable moments, Rick Stone: The Blues Man, delivers on what enthusiasts of Taylor’s theater are there for. Everyone cast in this show is extraordinarily talented—and thankfully so, since audiences will sit well beyond two hours.
There but for the Grace of God go I” is a phrase I often hear said by those witness to someone else’s misfortune. When the misfortune is homelessness, people often say how they are only one paycheck away from homelessness themselves. Yet for the majority, that one paycheck continues to come and the roof remains over their head, no matter how precariously.
Whatever you think you know about Emily Dickinson will either be confirmed or completely recalculated after seeing the Court Theatre production of The Belle of Amherst, playing now through December 3. Playwright William Luce captures Dickinson’s mood and thought processes, nearly one hundred years after her death, with his purposefully meandering 1976 script. Rather than follow a linear timeline, the story takes the audience on a series of adventures—or, sometimes, misadventures—from different points in Dickinson’s life. Over the course of a day, while Dickinson bakes her favorite black cake, she recollects memory after memory, each lending itself to the next. Kate Fry, who plays Emily Dickinson, brilliantly gives the poet life, pulling in the audience immediately with a subtle peek through the fourth wall. She acknowledges we are in fact present, giving an informal invitation of sorts into her home. Once inside, we become readers of her poetry by sharing in her day-to-day intricate family dynamics, the gossip of neighbors, the pain of unrequited love, her work’s rejection by an esteemed critic, and even a few favorite baking recipes. Sometimes we are given the information by ordinary dialogue, but often the stories are woven together from the words from Dickinson’s actual poems.
South Side Weekly Stage & Screen Editor Nicole Bond recently had a chat with children’s author Senyah Haynes. Haynes is the Founder and Executive Director of Diasporal Discoveries, a nonprofit that connects youth to the history and culture of the African diaspora. In this conversation, what started out as two old friends catching up over coffee turned into a discussion about the role and responsibility of literature to its youngest audience.
Unapologetically for everything in print
Everything about the day was expertly choreographed. Dozens of large yellow school buses maneuvered their way through morning rush hour to the Private Bank Theater. Once there, Chicago Public School security staff clad in official blue jackets along with parents and teachers wearing identifiable orange vests assembled hundreds of high school students to their seats. Excitement buzzed in the air. The chatter and energy were palpable. Weeks of work and dedication culminated here at Chicago’s final Hamilton Education Program of the 2016–2017 school year.