The artwork and poetry of inmates lined the walls. Mid-afternoon on a Saturday in February, there was an intimate gathering of people at Art on 51st, a gallery in Back of the Yards. They came to hear the story of Bill Ryan, of the people of Illinois, and of a failing justice system. Stateville Calling directed by Ben Kolak and released by Scrappers Film Group, recounts one man’s mission to bring a chance of parole or clemency to elderly inmates who, due to Illinois’ unique criminal justice system, are currently serving lengthy or life sentences.
He was a wordsmith with rhyme
I can’t even take the time
To expose you to half of what he wrote
The phrase ‘Fix it Up, Don’t Tear it Down’—also the title of a painting by Chicago artist Nikko Washington—entered my mind as I watched The Area.
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?”