Monday, August 07, 2006
Here’s a rebuttal of sorts to a story featured in Essay 872…
Black artists flourish on stages here
BY HEDY WEISS, Theater Critic
The impressive list of nominations for the 2005-2006 Black Theater Alliance Awards (BTAA) refutes a recent story in Time Out Chicago magazine that theater here is overwhelmingly white.
In fact, a more accurate assessment is that black actors, directors and playwrights have been flourishing here, doing superb work in both African-American-oriented theaters and beyond, and in classics and new plays in a wide array of styles.
Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s recent production of “Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2” (which just returned from England), Writers’ Theatre’s production of “The Duchess of Malfi,” Steppenwolf’s “The Unmentionables,” Court Theatre’s “Fences,” Pegasus Players’ “Two Trains Running” and Next Theatre’s “Fabulation” were exceptional showcases for black artists, as were the Goodman Theatre’s “Crumbs From the Table of Joy” and “The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove,” and Next Theatre’s staging of “Fabulation.” Chicago Dramatists’ mounting of Lydia R. Diamond’s “Voyeurs de Venus” highlighted a talented playwright, and Charles Smith’s “Denmark,” Victory Gardens’ inaugural production at its new Biograph home this fall, is devoted to an aspect of black history as related by a skilled black playwright.
The Congo Square Theatre company is thriving at its Chernin Center location and its annual “Black Nativity” production at the Goodman. Jackie Taylor’s Black Ensemble Theater has sealed the deal on its new home. And the Hip-Hop Theatre Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art Theatre showcased yet another facet of black theatrical influence.
The BTAA Award winners will be announced Oct. 2 at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel, 2233 S. Martin Luther King. The awards spotlight local black artists in a more focused way than the Jeff Awards and suggest the depth of talent on Chicago stages.
Tickets to the dinner and ceremony are $65; $55 for groups of five or more. Phone: (773) 624-5729.
Here is a look at the nominees in the principal categories. For a complete list go to: www.btaawards.org.
PRODUCTION, PLAY: “Louie and Ophelia” (eta Creative Arts Foundation); “Salt in a Wound” (eta); “Stickfly” (Congo Square Theatre Company).
PRODUCTION, MUSICAL: “Don’t Make Me Over: A Tribute to Dionne Warwick” (Black Ensemble Theater); “Home, The Musical” (eta); “Nina Simone: The High Priestess Speaks” (Black Ensemble).
ENSEMBLE: “Blaxploitation, The Mix” (MPAACT); “Fences” (Court Theatre); “Two Trains Running” (Pegasus Players).
PLAYWRIGHT: Lydia R. Diamond, “Voyeurs de Venus” (Chicago Dramatists); Kevin Douglas, Inda Craig Galvan and Carla Stillwell, “Blaxploitation, The Remix”; Ebony Joy, “Nina Simone: The High Priestess Speaks”; Melissa Maxwell, “Salt in a Wound”; Regina Taylor, “The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove” (Goodman Theatre).
DIRECTION, PLAY: Delia Gray, “Stage Directions” (Chicago Theater Company); Ron OJ Parson, “Fences”; Jonathan Wilson, “Two Trains Running.”
DIRECTION, MUSICAL: Ilesa Duncan, “tick, tick...BOOM!” (Pegasus Players); Sheldon Epps, “Purlie” (Goodman Theatre); Ebony Joy and Jackie Taylor, “Nina Simone: The High Priestess Speaks.”