Steppenwolf: Describe the Night

I was extremely intrigued by this play’s description:

In short: Igor liked this play, and I … I am not sure. The play was very long, and about two-thirds into it, I thought that it was lost time again: I didn’t like it, and it was not “coming together” (I have a preview card, so all the shows I see in Steppenwolf are previews, you can see the theater only half-full)

Closer to the end, the artists finally started to build the dynamics, and the play became really captivating. However.. still… I can’t point at what exactly I didn’t like… Sometimes, I love historical fantasies with “what if” scenarios. This play was more phantasmagoria than fantasy, and the fact that the characters were names like historical figures, didn’t help. It’s one thing to put a known historical figure into an imaginary situation or environment and watch them act in the new circumstances. It’s different when the characters are stripped of what we all know about them and given new personalities. I mean, the characters were mostly realistic; you do not need to name them Yezhov, Babel, or Putin to be convincing.

Now, I want to read the book to see how far is it from the show.

The Ripple, The Wave…

Flexible theatre memberships always look appealing because you think you will just choose the day which works best for you when it is closer to the show. And then, since a show is not on your calendar, you forget that you must choose.

This happened to me with my Whenever Goodman membership: the play “the ripple, the wave which carries me home” looked very interesting, but I thought, “I will look at it next week, this week is too busy,” until all of a sudden, I received an email saying that the show must close the upcoming Sunday.

Fortunately for me, I opened this email before Sunday, and luckily, Igor and I found one show time that worked for both of us.

We were almost late for the show because we went out for dinner and got very engaged in our conversation, so when we rushed into the Owen theater five minutes before the show started, and ended up sitting close to the extended family of the actress who played a leading role!

It is surprising how many people are unaware of the history of pool segregation and how many horrible things were happening fairly recently. Even the author of the play admits in the interview that she was not aware of many of them before she started working on this play. For me, the show’s most shocking moment was when the main heroine’s mother talks about three boys, two black and one white, who were killed (she does not give details of what happened, except “out of four only one returned”), and she says about their funerals:” They should have been buried together, but no cemetery would do this.”

I am glad we got a chance to go. This is one of the plays which is almost too close to reality, and although there are a lot of funny moments, it is very tragic, and very close to ho

Steppenwolf: The Last Out

Last out: Elegy of a Green Beret was only performed twice – on Friday and Saturday. I immediately got two tickets for Friday when I saw an email about it. I received at least two content advisory emails, but I was still completely unprepared for what I saw.

Two days later, I do not know how to write about it. It was an extremely emotional experience. All of the cast members were veterans, and I think that at least a third of the audience were veterans, and many people in the audience cried. I felt like this was not a show for me, and at the same time, I felt that I needed to know and at least try to understand how people feel. And then again, it seemed impossible…

Doing Things With ODS

I ended up doing things with the youth from the shelter for two days in a row. Yesterday, we went to Christkindlemarket together, and today we went to the Steppenwolf Theater to see the world premiere of the play The Bald Sisters.

Yesterday was great! It was probably the same thing as with skating, which is that people didn’t quite figure yet that Christmas is already here. There were almost no lines for food and drinks, and you could get close to all the booths and see everything very clearly.

It was 55F outside, and it could not be a better time to wonder around. We drank hot chocolate, and gazed at all pretty ornaments,

Continue reading “Doing Things With ODS”

The Locust At the GIft Theater

On Friday, I went to see a show in The Gift Theater. It was the first time I went there after the pandemic. I love this theater, I used to go to all of their performances and to “meet the cast” events, and I donated to them, and then it all stopped during the pandemic, plus I moved, and they moved 🙂
I finally made it to their new show because first, this show runs relatively close to where I live, and second – I wanted to take out my old friend, who is very much into the theater.
Both of us were impressed! The play is a thriller, and that’s not what I usually like. An FBI agent comes to her hometown to help the local police capture a serial killer, and she returns to her home and relives her past. But it is not about the plot but how the artists represent their characters, human feelings, and relationaships. The acting was superb! It is sad that so far, due to the COVID precautions, the actors do not come to meet the audience after the show. But OMG, what a pleasure!

“Swing State” At Goodman

I didn’t look at any theater tickets before all my travels were over, and then I realized that many shows were already sold out! That happened with the Swing State at Goodman. My neighbor told me that she was going to see it last Saturday and said: great, I will use my “whenever Goodman” tickets. And then I saw that all the remaining Friday and Saturday shows were sold out! I found two single (not-together) tickets for Tuesday, so Igor and I could go.  

The show was brilliant, and I was glad I managed to get “the last two tickets.” It was especially good that both of them were very close because the show is set in one room of Peg’s (the main character) house. There are only four characters, so all the scenes are very intimate, and it is great when you can see all the facial expressions and be pretty much “inside the act.”

I was annoyed that people often laughed during the show because the story was tragic, and everything that could sound funny was tragic. Igor said it was a “couping laugh” since many audience members could feel uncomfortable. 

And one thing that touched me personally was that Peg is doing prairie restoration and is shown collecting and sorting the seeds. The way she talks about the prairie is so “mine” that it makes her a real person.

Photos from the Goodman Theater website

To Kill a Mockingbird

I went to see this play at Netherlanders Theater on Wednesday. I do not know why I didn’t check details in advance – probably because I was sure that there can’t be anything unexpected – but I didn’t realize that this is a play, not a musical. Until some time into the show 🙂

It was a splendid production, and very true to the book, except for adding some references to today’s situation (like “seventeen shots”).

The theater was packed (and they do not check the vaccination cards anymore, although masks are fortunately still required)? and the audience was completely taken by the performance.

At some point, however, I got a feeling that not everybody in the audience was familiar with the book (although it seems impossible); or maybe they forgot since school. It’s just that the reaction to some scenes (like announcing the verdict) seemed to be a little bit like they didn’t expect it.

On my way home, on the Red Line, I heard people talking about the play – some of the passengers saw playbills in other passengers’ hands, and that started the conversation. When this happens, it always feels very good, like we are indeed one city. One Chicago.

“Seagull” at Steppenwolf

Last Wednesday, I went to see the “Seagull” in the Steppenwolf theater. I had four tickets left on my Black card, and I decided to use them all for this show. I figured that Igor and mom would go, and I will figure out whom else to invite. My neighbor was interested (she even thought about getting tickets herself), and I gladly invited her.

It was not only an all-new “Seagull” but also the first show on the Steppenwolf’s New Stage, and the new stage was fantastic! And actually, everything about this show was great: the translation was nearly perfect, nothing was cut from the play, and the actors seemed to be born to play these roles!

I was also glad that mom liked it. She could not remember the play itself (although it’s a Russian classic taught at school), and she could not understand what was going on on stage, but still, she was captivated by the action.

Live Theater

What a night! I can’t even say it was like in the “old days” – it was better than ever! Or maybe I forgot. Or maybe I just haven’t been to a Broadway class show for a while.

My neighbor and I had a night out in the Loop on Thursday. We started from a dinner at the Italian Village where I hadn’t been for more than two years. These days, they have a very strict reservation policy: they allow 1 hour 45 min for dining, and they charge you for canceled reservations (you need to put a valid credit card when you make the reservation). But that worked for us, ensuring that there was no crowd at the entrance, the tables were filled, and everybody had enough time to dine. It was nothing extravagant, but it was a very nice and festive dinner with their homemade pasta, wine, and a seasonal dessert. 

Then, we headed to the Nederlander Theater. They have a very strict COVID protocol, and they really watch the patrons following it – and this allows them not to have any capacity restrictions. . 

The show was fantastic! It was a pre-Broadway run of “Paradise Square,” and everything about it Twas brilliant: the story, the music, the voices, the choreography!  Two and a half hours of celebration of people’s talent and creativity!

The story takes place during the Civil War in New York, at the time when President Lincoln instituted the first Federal Draft, followed by the Draft Riot. More educational resources can be found on the production website (I think that I am not the only one who knew nothing about the Draft Riot, and about the Five Points neighborhood. At first, I didn’t realize that the actors present the real interracial couples of the 19th century; I thought that the cast was race-blind. But as the story unfolded, I realized that it was indeed about Irish/Black couples.

Unfortunately, I could not find any pictures, even from rehearsals, but I hope they will add some images to the production website at some point.

The only bad part was that I was at home after 11 PM and went to bed about midnight. And then, on Friday, Igor and I went to see the “Bug” in the Steppenwolf theater. That show started at 8 PM, and once again, we had to wait for the train, and I was home after midnight, and two nights in a row with about 4.5 hours of sleep was not a good idea. 

The “Bug” is a play written by Tracy Letts, and it’s a very difficult thing to watch. Unlike most people, I didn’t see the movie and judging by the description on the website I didn’t realize how depressing it was going to be. It’s not that I am avoiding depressing plays, but with that one, I can’t even see what anybody in the world could do to prevent that tragic end…