During Loyola University’s #3USHAK3SF3ST, three theater departments from three Illinois universities explore a wide Shakespearean spectrum with renditions of a comedy, a history, and a fantasy. In Measure for Measure, the hosting thespians uncap a comedy about the hypocrisy of a corrupt judge the Duke of Vienna tasks to tidy the city’s lax moral code of conduct. On Saturday night, Western Illinois condenses the history plays of Henry IV into a single show, chronicling the perilous years in English history when British soldiers fended off the thorns that pricked royal fingers. For Sunday’s finale, a Prospero from Bradley’s Peoria campus casts a stormy spell over the city’s north lakeshore in Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest. The theater groups will produce all three works using the same innovative set structure, lighting design, and spells for summoning stagehands, enabling the triad to smoothly reconstruct itself at the other two campuses after the inaugural Chicago festival.
The faculty members at the School of Rock believe that immersion is the best way to learn any new skill, which is why they don’t just teach students how to traverse the notes and rhythms of guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, and vocals in isolation. In addition to teaching students the technical skills during one-on-one lessons, the professional music instructors push them to fuse their individual parts into songs during full band practices with fellow beginner rockers. This combination of one-on-one attention and cooperative group learning helps kids of all skill levels hone their craft while overcoming common pitfalls such as stage fright or playing off-tempo. As kids learn to shred riffs, pound out drum solos, and summon Ronnie James Dio by hitting the correct vibrato atop a silver mountain, the classes build their confidence and kick-start a lifetime of loving rock 'n' roll.
Glass Mind Theatre's cast and crew turns the fairy tale of Cinderella on its head with their latest production, Adapting Cinderella, which interweaves elements from the story's countless retellings in films and books to create a unique plotline that questions what constitutes an ideal Prince Charming. With the same enthusiasm for thought-provoking live production that earned the company honors of Best New Theater from City Paper in 2010, Artistic director Andrew Peters guides an ensemble cast as it flutters and fights in sync with Sarah Ford Gorman's choreography and Quinn S.'s original music.
Strand Theater Company presents original, evocative plays with an emphasis on providing women opportunities for roles as actors, directors, playwrights, and set designers. Strand's upcoming 2010–11 season kicks off with the critically acclaimed The Glory of Living (October 7–23), which relates Rebecca Gilman's visceral and complex story of a 16-year-old girl married to an ex-convict twice her age. When the holiday season arrives and families start glazing their mistletoe with a mixture of eggnog and ham essence, you can get in the spirit with A Peppermint Patty Christmas (December 2–18), which portrays a character vowing to speak the truth when she heads home for the holidays. A dramatic adaptation of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking (February 3–19) is a compelling one-woman play, written after the loss of Didion's husband and daughter. The season wraps up with the socially minded One Flea Spare (April 21–May 7), Naomi Wallace's sharp play based in seventeenth-century England and called "one of the finest works of dramatic literature" by playwright Tony Kushner.
In keeping with Everyman's tradition of ending a season with a contemporary play that deals with modern issues, David Harrower's Blackbird is a drama that premiered in 2005 and in 2007 won Britain's highest award for a new play, the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play. Derek Goldman directs Everyman's production, starring resident company-member Megan Anderson and David Parkes, in his first Everyman performance. The 90-minute play shows the gripping encounter between an older Ray and younger Luna, and the effects of their taboo relationship as it unfolds at Ray's office. There is no intermission.