You can still catch Muse of Fire Theatre Company’s production of The Taming of the Shrew this weekend in Evanston! Directed by MAPH alum Jemma Alix Levy, the show goes on in Ingraham Park on Saturday and Sunday at 3:00 pm. Both performances are free, no reservations are required, and seating is free & unlimited. For more information, please visit www.museoffire.org.
Reposted from the Court Theatre Blog. The first part of Angels in America opens March 30, 2012
“The World Only Spins Forward”
by Deborah Blumenthal MAPH ’11
I was seventeen when I first saw Angels in America, and it did, as it does, change how I saw the world. It was the magnificent HBO miniseries; I remember two cold, snowy Sunday evenings, tip-toeing around my house, covertly staying up far past my school-night bedtime to see it, and from my naive perch among the couch pillows, watching an entire unfamiliar history unfold from the glow of my Dad’s big-screen TV.
I don’t know that my parents would have let me watch it if they had known what it was, but it was almost by accident, really. I had tuned in just to see one of my favorite then-obscure stage actors on television, none the wiser to what I was about to see, other than that it had been adapted from a play I had never seen.
My most distinct memory from either of those two evenings is that I couldn’t sleep after watching the ending of Millennium Approaches. Not that I was afraid of an angel crashing through my ceiling (though of course you never know), but because Prior was so sick, and I was so scared. Watching it became, very quickly, about much more than just a beloved actor. Recorded VHS tapes were joined immediately by paperback copies and DVDs, a few years later by working copies for thesis notes and a holiday-gifted first edition. There’s a Tony Kushner section on my bookshelf, and each resident is worn with love.
I was born during the period in which Angels in America takes place. Having grown up in a school system that ignored, or at least sugarcoated, the existence of the AIDS crisis (I did have one teacher—elementary school art—who taught second and third graders about Keith Haring, much to the chagrin of some parents), encountering some of the AIDS plays as a teenager—first Angels, and a few months later, Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, with Rent sandwiched in between—was like opening a pop-up book. Even in my high school health classes, AIDS was just a bad thing that happened to you if you didn’t use a condom, in no major way separated from other STDs. The curriculum gave some clinical biology, here’s what happens to your cells, but the politics and the details and the terrifying history were left out, and real understanding was foregone.
It’s not uncommon to hear from people my age, or even younger, that Angels in America changed their lives—which might be strange considering that we weren’t there. But for us it’s like a history lesson, live in living color, opening our eyes to a reality that we can only try to imagine. Progressive sex-ed or sugarcoated evasion, the AIDS epidemic has become incorporated into our cultural consciousness. My generation has no idea what it was like for it to barely even have a name. The immersion of the theater may be the closest we’ll ever get to understanding.
More on Angels in America after 20 years after the jump
Deborah Blumenthal (MAPH ’11) Reflects on her MAPH Internship, Curation and Academic Cross-Pollination
You could say I had a magical summer.
Being offered the MAPH internship at the Chicago History Museum had to be a nod to the absolute nerdism of my childhood – I was that kid who dragged her parents to every history museum within reach, wherever we were. I have become that adult who returns to the same ones over and over again. I was a Humanities student, but I am also a lifelong history geek, and the opportunity to intern in the Curatorial Affairs department at CHM let me do exactly what MAPHers do best: bridge the gaps. We’re cross-disciplinarians, proponents of academic cross-pollination.
I studied theater during my MAPH year, venturing out into a little bit of art history and concentrating very much on art-audience communication and relationships. I wrote my thesis on Tony Kushner’s AIDS-era epic play Angels in America, focusing on the work’s ever-changing relationship to its temporal setting: what happens when a play becomes history? I wrestled with Benjamin and his Angel of History, theories on nostalgia, and literature on historical drama. You can see the history geek peeking out. It always has. It’s a necessary marriage, I think.
More on the the internship and how it links to Deborah’s current project after the jump.
Martin Schwartz (MAPH ’06) directed and wrote Tutor: enter the exclave, a theatrical piece based on JMR Lenz’s Der Hofmeister (1774). The work is slated to open tomorrow at Dark Porch Theatre in San Francisco, CA and runs through October 22nd at the EXIT Studio on 156 Eddy St. If you are in the Bay Area it looks like a great night out for some experimental theater.
MAPH alum Hallie Palladino is teaching a six-week playwriting class through Loyola Continuum.
Have you been putting your writing on the back burner and you’re looking for a way to push yourself back into it? Do you have an idea that would make a great one-act play? Or maybe you know someone else who might be interested. If you can pass the word along I would be very grateful. The class will be an introduction for beginners and an opportunity to continue an ongoing project for more experienced writers. Either way it will be lots of fun!
The class meets on Monday nights from 6:30-8:30pm at the Lakeshore Campus (that’s the big Loyola Campus in Rogers Park) March 15 – April 26 (don’t worry, no class on Passover, March 29th).
Running from October 27 through November 11 the Chicago Humanities Festival returns to Chicago for its 18th year. The theme this year is “The Climate of Concern,” working in conjunction with the Chicago Festival of Maps. Every year this festival runs throughout the various cultural institutions in Chicago, bringing lecturers, panel discussions, and music and dance performances » Read the rest of this entry «