Stage & Screen | Visual Arts

Between the Three of Us

The Petty sisters meditate on growing up on the South Side

Members of the audience of "South Side Sisterhood" (Sarah Thomas)

The home movie clip shown at the beginning of “South Side Sisterhood” was simple. A toddler waddled around in a diaper; his siblings smiled and made faces at the camera. The trio were doing what many siblings do: simply being together.

Health | Stage & Screen

Their Body, Their Choice

A new interactive play challenges us to think about teen abortion differently

Morgan Sanders

What happens when a teenager wants to abort a pregnancy? Do they need to have their parent’s permission? The new play This Boat Called My Body answers these questions. A production of For Youth Inquiry (FYI), the theater company of the Illinois Caucus For Adolescent Health (ICAH), This Boat engages its audience in a conversation about the murky waters that teenagers must navigate in order to access a safe abortion. Our journey through this conversation begins with the story of Jane.

Nature | Stage & Screen | Visual Arts

Sites for Leisure, Sites of Danger

Artists and activists discuss reclaiming parkland as a public space

Courtesy South Side Home Movie Project

When L. Anton Seals, Jr. was growing up in South Shore, he and his family would often spend weekend nights camped out in Chicago’s public parks. Back then, he said, his family and friends took the Chicago Park District’s 11pm closing time as a suggestion, not a rule: “[We were like], how the park gon’ close at 11 o’clock?… Who gives you the right to close the earth?”

Lit | Stage & Screen

Illuminating Gwendolyn Brooks

A new short documentary explores the life, legacy, and impact of the revered poet and writer

Courtesy Unterberg Poetry Center

When we’re talking about Gwendolyn Brooks, we are talking about material that will essentially educate and material that will leave a legacy,” said writer and documentarian Shahari Moore. Her solo directorial debut, Brooks People, a twenty-minute documentary exploring the work and lasting impact of Brooks, the first Black writer to win a Pulitzer Prize, premiered at the Gene Siskel Black Harvest Film Festival last year. To illustrate her outsize influence on the South Side and across the country, Moore interviewed numerous contemporaries of Brooks, including esteemed scholars, poets, and artists such as Dr. Cornel West, Nikki Giovanni, and Haki Madhubuti—as well as Brooks’ daughter, Nora Brooks Blakely.

Stage & Screen

A New Home for Home Movies

Digital archive immortalizes film footage of family life on the South Side

Still from the Alsup Smith collection, courtesy of the South Side Home Movie Project. 1980

On May 1, the South Side Home Movie Project launched its digital archive, a globally accessible online portal to home movies shot by residents of Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods between 1929 and 1982.

Stage & Screen

Meet Ricard(ito) Gamboa

A look into the artist, activist, and academic’s “alternative cultural ecology”

Chances are that you’re rarely going to see Ricardo Gamboa’s name associated with any mainstream Chicago theaters. And that’s how they like it. Instead, these days you’re more likely to find them at the Storyfront, a theater in Back of the Yards that just a year ago was a storefront, camouflaging with audience and community members who curiously wander in to performances of Meet Juan(ito) Doe. They always break this facade at the end of the performance to express their gratitude and urge audience members to share their stories and reviews with them. Last, they urge the audience to keep using the Storyfront as a community and arts space, letting them know about events that are occurring there in the future and encouraging anyone to reach out to them with ideas of how else to use the space. All this is part of Gamboa’s role as a “triple A”—an artist, activist and academic—committed to making radical, intersectional work centered on people of color (POC).

Arts Issue 2018 | Interviews | Stage & Screen | Woodlawn

Looking In From the Outside

Diana Quiñones Rivera on encounters and filmmaking in Woodlawn and beyond

Part of a mural in Woodlawn by Bryant Jones, whom Diana Quiñones Rivera interviews in "D on the South Side"

Diana Quiñones Rivera is a filmmaker from Puerto Rico who moved to Chicago in November 2015. While she was a 2016 fellow in Kartemquin Films’ Diverse Voices in Docs program, she lived in Woodlawn for a year before moving to Avondale. Her new short film “D on the South Side,” which was screened in January and February as part of Collaboraction Theatre’s winter festival, deals with her time living in Woodlawn. “It was tough living in Woodlawn,” Rivera said. “I guess I didn’t expect it to be as segregated. I knew it was segregated but I didn’t think it was going to be a place where I would feel uncomfortable, and it [was].” Invited to make the film by the organizers of long-running weekly performance series Salonathon, Rivera’s experience with Woodlawn’s racial dynamics were a good fit with the Collaboration festival, which was titled “Encounter.” Its focus was on “racism and racial healing in Chicago.”

Arts Issue 2018 | Photo Essay | Poetry | Stage & Screen

Words, Pictures, and Gestures from Louder Than a Bomb

Aisha June of the Goodman Theatre Youth Poetry Ensemble

Two weekends ago, high school poets from across Chicago took to the stage for the finals of the Louder than a Bomb (LTAB) poetry slam, a competition that seeks to engage the city in the “pedagogy of listening,” as Young Chicago Authors marketing manager José Olivarez says. Olivarez has been involved in LTAB since 2005: while he began as a student participant in the festival, he’s now working to make the slam an annual reality.

Interviews | Radio | Stage & Screen

The Brightness of the City

Lena Waithe on her show 'The Chi'

Todd MacMillan

Last week, the Weekly sat down with Lena Waithe, a writer, actress, and producer best known as the creator of the new Showtime series The Chi, set on the South Side, and for her Emmy Award–winning work on the Netflix show Master of None. Just two weeks ago, Waithe, a native South Sider, won the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Vanguard Award. Here, she talks about being a queer Black woman in the public eye and giving space for tragedy and beauty in stories about Chicago.

Englewood | Interviews | Radio | Stage & Screen | Woodlawn

SSW Radio: Lena Waithe Talks The Chi, Personal Histories for Women’s History Month, and More

Todd MacMillan

This week on SSW Radio we talked with South Side native Lena Waithe about her show The Chi; checked in on community developments in Woodlawn, South Shore, and Jackson Park; and highlighted the personal histories of three South Side women