Smile Politely

Five things in arts: April 2024

Photo of a piece of artwork with broken tiles of old compact discs reflecting rainbow colors in the background on a pink canvas. The foreground is a Black female body with tickets making up her red and white polka-dotted dress.
Bryant Anderson / Boneyard Arts Festival

Robert Browning famously opened his poem “Home thoughts, from Abroad” with the line “O to be in England/Now that April’s there.” England’s got nothing on April in Champaign-Urbana. From Boneyard, to Ebertfest, to the proliferation of poetry for National Poetry Month, we have hit the apex of arts in town. I’ll be posting early and often about poetry readings and happenings so buckle up; it’s going to be a busy month.

A photo of a beige and dark brown chessboard. A small inset of a woman's hands on a chess piece reads: The Venus Gambit
Venus Gambit on Facebook

Local filmmaker Thomas Nicol’s The Venus Gambit at Analog Wine Bar

The Venus Gambit, a new short film by Champaign filmmaker Thomas Nicol, captures the twists and turns of a casual date reflected on the squares of a chessboard. Filmed downtown at Urbana’s Analog Wine Bar, the short features the talent of Mindy Smith and Mathew Green, with cinematography by John Isberg. The screening will be followed by a Q & A with the cast and crew. What a treat to enjoy a glass of wine and chat about film on location.

The Venus Gambit
Analog Wine Bar
129 N Race
F Apr 5th, 7 p.m.
Free and open to the public

The inside of a dimly lit space. A wood sign is hand painted to say "boneyard festival" with an arrow pointing up a staircase
Boneyard Arts Festival on Facebook

Wander the streets of Champaign County’s Boneyard Arts Festival

With events all over town, Boneyard takes over April 12th through 14th. From the Tiny Art Festival at The Literary to the ReGroup Art Collective at the former ReStore Habitat for Humanity building on University Avenue, there will be art and literature galore as 40 North nurtures the arts in our fair twin cities. Keep an eye on Boneyard’s website for updates, times, and venues. 

Boneyard Arts Festival
Champaign County
April 12-14

A statue of Roger Ebert giving a “Thumbs Up” sits outside of the Virginia Theatre,

Ebertfest turns 25 at the Virginia Theatre

The full schedule is live and tickets are selling fast for the 25th Ebertfest. Founded in 1999 by the late University of Illinois graduate and Pulitzer Prize winning critic Roger Ebert, our hometown film festival blooms in April each year with a bounty of films that were overlooked or that may not have received recognition when they were originally released. In addition to experiencing movies-with-people at Champaign’s historic Virginia Theatre, audiences are treated to special appearances by filmmakers, critics, musicians, and writers. It’s a thumbs-up celebration of the arts. Whether you can swing a three-day festival pass, or you just attend a film or two in the evening, this year’s festival will not disappoint.

Ebertfest at the Virginia Theatre
203 W Park
Apr 17-19
Ticket information available online  

Dark black background on this play poster with orange, blood-dripping letters reading Little Shop of Horrors, book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken. There is a green rendering of a plant with fangs and the words directed by Michael O'Brien are at the bottom of the poster.
Parkland Theatre on Facebook

Audrey II comes alive in Little Shop of Horrors at Parkland College

I can’t wait to see the unveiling of Audrey II in Parkland College’s production of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s ravenously dark doo-wop-meets-Motown musical, loosely based on the 1960 low budget film, The Little Shop of Horrors. Director Michael O’Brien is cooking up a savory show about the foul-mouthed R&B-singing carnivorous plant who enlists the help of hapless plant shop worker Seymour Krelborn in its plans for global domination. O’Brien, an accomplished puppeteer, is busy building Audrey II, the unique centerpiece of this beloved popular musical. 

Little Shop of Horrors
Parkland College Miner Theatre
2400 W Bradley Ave
Apr 11-28
Ticket information available online

Grainy brown image of an elephant in midair supported by ropes with drawings of skeletons in tophats on either side.
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Facebook

Illinois Theatre presents The Gangster Play at Krannert’s Studio

The full title of this original production is The Gangster Play: Circus/Circus, Forcibly Adapted from Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. I am more than a little intrigued by this work, directed, adapted, and devised by Anderson/Gliege-Rose and The Company. The story involves a 1930’s Chicago mobster who works a corrupt political system to his advantage as it allegorizes and comments on Hitler’s rise to power in the late 1930s. Brecht’s approach to telling stories on stage is, well, Brechtian. He earned that adjective. Expect the unexpected from the talented minds at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts.

The Gangster Play: Circus/Circus
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
500 S Goodwin
Apr 12-20
Tickets available online

Arts Editor at Smile Politely

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