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Five things in arts this month: November 2022

This month’s arts calendar offers a blend of thought-provoking and feel-good experiences. Fans of Illinois Theatre and the Station Theatre are in for some smartly satirical and truly topical productions with The Revolutionists and The Thanksgiving Play.  Krannert Center for the Performing Arts will also be hosting one of the final performances ofThe Medium by the SITI Company, who will soon transition away from being a producing organization into a new model as an artist collective. If the recent Black on Black on Black on Black exhibition at Krannert Art Museum piqued your senses and your imagination, you won’t want to miss In Blackest Shade, In Darkest Light, an exhibition curated by Patrick Earl Hammie opening at Parkland College’s Giertz Gallery. And last, but certainly not least, this month welcomes the return of Art Coop’s $50 Art Show benefitting the Champaign County Humane Society. 

The Thanksgiving Play

Photo of a young woman with long red hair wearing a craft-made Native American headdress in a classroom.

Photo by Jessie Folks.

If you’re looking for a compelling alternative to traditional Turkey Day entertainment and its problematic narratives, you won’t want to miss this production of Larissa FastHorse’s (Sicangu Lakota Nation) satirical comedy. According to the Station’s website recap, The Thanksgiving Play follows Logan, a high school drama teacher, in a desperate attempt to save her career after her boat-rocking behavior inspires a call for her termination. By bringing together actors who will create a play about the first “Thanksgiving,” Logan sets off an explosion of jabs at political correctness, wokeness, and cultural assumptions. The Thanksgiving Play, which will make its Broadway debut in Spring 2023, has been one of the top-ten most produced plays in America.

The Thanksgiving Play
The Station Theatre
223 N Broadway Ave
November 10-13
Th-Sa 7:30 p.m.
Su 3 p.m.

Reserve tickets here.

The Revolutionists: Comedy, a Quartet, a Revolutionary Dream Fugue, a True Story

Four woman's hands held in the air against a black background. From left to right they are holding a light blue feather, a jeweled fist, a knife, and a finger with a light blue ribbon tied around it.

Photo from the KCPA website.

To quote Nisi Sturgis’ director’s note,

The ”-ists” the title refers to are four women.
You may recognize some of them from your history
classes. You may not.
A thing about a big revolution like the French one:
One person’s treason is another person’s liberty.
One person’s murder is another person’s capital
One person’s insanity is another person’s genius.
It depends on who wins.
History, as they say, is written by the victors.
And the victors are, historically, men.
So women are, historically, foutues (damned).

Set in France during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, The Revolutionists imagines playwright Olympe De Gouge, assassin Charlotte Corday, former queen (and fan of ribbons) Marie Antoinette, and Haitian rebel Marianne Angelle, joining forces to take on a climate of extremist rhetoric and violence. Will art and activism triumph over hypermasculine political insanity? Lauren Gunderson’s exceptional play asks the ultimate question. How exactly do we change the world? 

The Revolutionists: A Comedy, a Quartet, a Revolutionary Dream Fugue, a True Story
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Studio Theatre
500 S Goodwin
November 9-13
W-F 7:30 p.m.
Sa + Su 2 p.m.

Get ticket info here.

SITI Company: The Medium

Photo from the KCPA website.

Founded in 1992, SITI Company, is, according to its website, “an ensemble-based theater company whose three ongoing components are the creation of new work, the training of theater artists, and a commitment to crossing boundaries.” To mark their final performance season, as they transition away from being a producing organization into a new model as an artist collective, SITI Company will be performing its very first production, The Medium, at several locations throughout the country, including our very own Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Inspired by the work of media theorist Marshall McLuhan, who coined the phrase “the medium is the message,”The Medium investigates who we are and what we are becoming as we grow closer to and more dependent upon technology. I’m sure I’m not alone in having wondered what McLuhan would have made of Siri and Alexa. SITI Company offers a way to engage those questions about what our devices have devised while in presence of talented performers and among other living, breathing humans. 

SITI Company: The Medium
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Tryon Festival Theatre
500 S Goodwin
November 12th, 7:30 p.m.
Get ticket information here.

In Blackest Shades, Darkest Light

Close crop of image showing a pair of Black jeweled hands on working a mixing board.

Mike Rea, Quantum Conjuring, 2022. Charcoal, conte pastel on paper. @ Mike Rea. Image courtesy of the artist.

If the recent Black on Black on Black on Black exhibition has left you wanting to continue further on the path of Black Quantum Futurism, you won’t want to miss In Blackest Shade, In Darkest Light. Curated by BoBoBoB co-curator Patrick Earl Hammie, this exhibition features work by Hammie, Kumasi J. Barnett, William Downs, Kenyatta Forbes, Robert Pruitt, Stacey Robinson, and Charles Edward Williams. All seven artists, as Hammie descibes on the exhibition website, “draw upon horror, Afro-futurism, magical realism, the Ethno-gothic, fantasy, Black Quantum Futurism, utopias and dystopias, and superheroes,” as well as “cultural aesthetics and philosophies of science and history to explore and improvise within set boundaries and beyond. Their work speculates toward un-fixing the physical, political, and social knowns and imagine otherwise how we will be and become.”

Like BoBoBoB, In Blackest Shade, In Darkest Light will feature a gallery exhibition along with several lectures. Up first is an artist talk from William Downs, to be held at 6 p.m. on November 10th, in the Lower Level Auditorium (Room 62) of Krannert Art Museum. As a part of the exhibition’s opening reception, Patrick Earl Hammie will deliver a curator’s talk at the Giertz Gallery at 6:15 p.m. on November 17th. And on November 30th, at 1:15 p.m., Hammie will deliver an artist talk at the Parkland’s William M. Staerkel Planetarium. The level of public engagement made possible in both exhibits is a testament to the passion of the artists and curators, and perhaps, more importantly, their commitment to continuing these important conversations. 

In Blackest Shade, In Darkest Light
Parkland College
Giertz Gallery
2400 W Bradley
November 14, 2022-February 18, 2023
Get gallery hours here.

The 11th Annual Art Coop $50 Art Show

Photo of three white walls in an art gallery filled with art work of different sizes and shapes. A Black wire bench stands in the middle of the room.

Photo from Art Coop’s Instagram.

The Annual Art Coop $50 Art Show, returning at last after its pandemic hiatus, is a benefit for the Champaign County Humane Society in which 100% of proceeds are donated to the cause. In its decade-long history it has come to be many other things as well. For avid collectors of locally made art, it can be a bargain hunter’s dream. For up-and-coming artists, it is an opportunity to submit their work and, perhaps, gain that most ephemeral of things: exposure. For many, it’s a chance to do good while getting an early start on your holiday shopping. But as someone who has attended for many years, my favorite thing about the $50 Art Show is this: By removing the questions of cost and value — every single item, despite its size, materials, or artist’s reputation, is available for an accessible donation of $50 — experienced and non-experienced art buyers alike can simply chose what speaks to them. While this year’s show will run a bit differently than in the before times (see more about that in the Facebook event details) let’s be sure to give it a rousing welcome back. An if you’re artist, there’s still time to donate your work. 

The 11th Annual Art Coop $50 Art Show
Art Coop
150 Lincoln Square Mall
November 18th, 5-7 p.m.

Top image by Robert Pruitt, from the Giertz Gallery website. 

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