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.
“When you are surrounded by darkness I will be your light, say my name, Pound! Pound! Pound! That’s the sound of the time for us to wake up, don’t make my life a hashtag, say my name and make my life a legend.” – Royal
One Tuesday evening last month, a group of about twenty gathered under a sculpture made of neon lights to listen to stories and tell their own in turn. This was the July meeting of Story Club South Side, held at Bridgeport’s Co-Prosperity Sphere, a community gallery and gathering space. The group is composed of writers, bloggers, poets, and some who identify as none of the above, but they’re united by a fascination with live performance. Yvette Piña, one attendee, said, “Every time I’m telling a story, I relive it so much I get goosebumps. It’s like, I remember how that felt, I remember that moment. There’s something cathartic about that.”
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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).