Week 1: Welcome Week
It's always important to keep in touch with the latest news, and the Chicago Theatre Triathlon is no exception. If you've missed a couple days, have no fear. Check back here for weekly updates!
This week is our first week and so we introduced a lot of new works and weekly content. We introduced Theatre Crush Thursday, where one theatre whose work is so exemplary it's crushworthy is showcased. Our first one was Jackalope Theatre, a company dedicated to contemporary, thrilling work from new, local, distinct voices such as Calamity West and Ike Holter.
There also was the introduction of Follow Friday, where we spotlight one arts based organization and non-arts based organization that's worth following. Chicago Arts Access is dedicated to providing accessibility to everyone with free theatre tickets. Chicago Books to Women in Prison aims to provide books for incarcerated women to their specifications.
Let's see how the rest of this week shaped up!
Kicking the triathlon off with a bang with Tarell Alvin McCraney. McCraney has an impressive background with his plays such as Wig Out!, Hit the Wall, and Choir Boy, making McCraney's Broadway debut this year. McCraney also provided the story for Barry Jenkins' visceral film, Moonlight. I've always admired McCraney's work and I'm pleased to have this compilation of plays in my possession. In the Red and Brown Water definitely lives up to McCraney's stellar reputation.
Next up is George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan. For being one of the most well-known badass heroines this world has ever seen, Bernard Shaw didn't quite capture her fiery spirit or even let us see the girl do battle. Yes, it may have produced a more expensive play, but at times it was a lot of smoke which should have led to fire. I also couldn't quite get a film about Saint Joan out of my head that I saw back in 9th grade French class where Neil Patrick Harris played a high-pitched cackling friend that turned out to be a foe. Anyone else remember this?
Today was a writing day which was definitely a needed break from reading so many plays! I love writing, but sometimes it's hard for me to find the motivation. It feels like so much work and I don't consider it a relaxing activity most of the time. Once I get going, I enjoy it, but it can be hard to get into that writing mood.
Next up we had Sarah DeLappe's The Wolves. I was so thrilled when I saw this play was available to purchase. As soon as I saw this play at the Goodman Theatre in 2018, I wanted a script to be able to revisit because conversations happen so fast and often at once. This play feels so nostalgic for any girl in high school, even if you didn't play high school. It's a swirling storm of different pressures, relationships, and all the versions of yourself you're trying on to see which one sticks. It's a play that feels like a punch, but ends on a note of shared endurance.
Today was exciting in getting to stream John Leguizamo's Latin History for Morons. It seemed billed as a Netflix stand-up special, but it was so much more. I was really impressed by the precise storytelling and how it connected to this idea of how history will be interpreted by younger and future generations. This performance also made me realize the increased accessibility that comes when streaming providers like Netflix can provide a resource to make live performances available for all. I really appreciate it and want to see more in the future.
Our first week wouldn't be complete without seeing a live play. I was impressed by the depths that Saltbox Theatre Collective were willing to go with Rebecca Gilman's Boy Gets Girl. It's a play written in the 90s that echoes similar fears today when it comes to dating, perhaps even further amplified by online dating. We're easier to find now more than ever and while that can seem like a blessing, it often can get misused or even exploited into something we didn't think possible. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my first live production for the challenge with a company I hadn't heard of doing a play that deeply effected me.
Check back for Week 2's recap soon!