Interview Issue 2017 | Interviews | Stage & Screen

A New Lens on Life

Reginald Rice on tracing a path through filmmaking

Bridget Vaughn

I was a dissenter. I retaliated against a lot of things, but more so I retaliated against the way people tried to color the world for me. I questioned, and I didn’t realize until I got older that I was always questioning why things have to be the way they are. I was deeply invested in my imagination, and cinema was that environment that sort of told me: you can create, these ideas can come out of you and unfold, and you can create the reality that you want through this particular medium.

Education | Stage & Screen

Putting Students in the Room Where it Happens

CPS students get primary sources and stage time through the Hamilton Education Program

Nicole Bond

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.

Nature | Stage & Screen

Green Thumbs and Concrete Steps

One Earth Film Festival hosts environmental films, dialogues across Chicago

WYCC PBS Chicago + Juneteenth Productions / Vimeo

One Earth Film Festival, Chicago’s premier environmental movie festival, put on its sixth run earlier this month, from March 3 to March 12. Aiming to raise awareness and facilitate dialogue about environmental issues and protections, One Earth screens films and hosts post-screening discussions for free. This year, they put on forty-seven showings of thirty films in thirty-nine locations throughout the Chicagoland area. The Weekly sent writers to three of these: Can You Dig This?, NaturePlay, and Chicago’s True Nature.

Arts Issue 2017 | Stage & Screen

Class Is in Session

Carla Stillwell on twenty-one years in Chicago theater

Ellen Hao

Director, playwright, and teaching artist Carla Stillwell knows more than a few things about Chicago theater after twenty-one seasons with Ma’at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre (MPAACT). Stillwell, a South Shore native who began acting professionally at the age of ten, is bringing her craft back to the South Side this year; she will organize MPAACT group classes starting in April and will also launch her own private theater classes out of her Woodlawn home. Stillwell is directing MPAACT’s final show of the season, local playwright Shepsu Aakhu’s Never the Milk and Honey, opening April 14. The Weekly spoke with her about her new classes, her three decades of work, and the importance of theater by and for people of color.

Stage & Screen

Unapologetically Doing It

Pilsen-set web series “Brown Girls” premieres at the Chicago Art Department

Lisa Mishra performs at the launch party for Brown Girls, a new web series focusing on friendship between women of color. (Thea Smith)

Last Wednesday, a tall, wide-smiling usher opened the door, bringing me into the Chicago Art Department’s musky, glowing warmth. Nothing—the art, the lights, or the makeshift bar bustling with customers—was quite as compelling as the noise. It was loud. Not in an interruptive way, but I could hear laughter from across the room, and see and feel it bouncing from one group of people to the next. The tall ceiling, strung back and forth with yellow lights, only helped matters along, allowing notes of R&B music to fill the air. Couples’ heads were bent down, ears inches from mouths, while friends howled excited greetings at every new face that walked through the door. Hugs were given without discretion, and kisses planted in abundance.

Stage & Screen

Harlem in Hyde Park

With a festival and a new play, Court celebrates the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance

Courtesy of Court Theatre

In Blues for an Alabama Sky, the play produced this winter by Court Theatre, worlds collided: the Harlem Renaissance came to Hyde Park. According to Court’s executive director Stephen J. Albert “to explore and extend the African-American canon” is still Court’s long-term project. The theater’s appreciation of African-American art and culture are especially valuable to Court’s audience; he says Court’s audience “gets on its feet” to applaud “stories that speak to [its] own history.” Court sought to meet this demand this winter by producing Blues for an Alabama Sky, a story of the lives of five neighbors in Harlem during the 1920s—and to go beyond just meeting it, they added a two-month-long festival as accompaniment.

Stage & Screen

Hoodoisie Trumps Bourgeoisie

On the eve of the inauguration, Ricardo Gamboa gives Trump the finger

Nicole Bond

Inauguration Day mixed the city’s emotions into a veritable soup of angst. Protesters dissenting the new president gathered at Daley Plaza and near Trump Tower before migrating to briefly shut down parts of Lake Shore Drive. But at an effervescent brown-owned café in Pilsen, performance artist Ricardo Gamboa’s live news show, F*ck Trump the Hoodoisie is Here, gave a standing-room-only crowd the opportunity to protest status quo politics in the nation as well as in the city.

Stage & Screen

Farewell, Obama

Hyde Park celebrates the 44th president on his last night in office

Bridget Gamble

Rain fell in Chicago on January 19, Barack Obama’s last night in the White House. That night, a new administration descended upon D.C. for an inauguration “welcome celebration” featuring “traditionally American” musical acts.