Smile Politely

This month in the Arts: April 2018

At a glance, it looks like April is going to bring with it some major events in the arts, including large festivals like Ebertfest and the Boneyard Arts festival, as well as larger productions on stage like Memphis at Parkland and August: Osage County rounding out the Station Theatre’s season. While it seems there’s always something arts related to attend or see, April seems to really pack a punch here. There’s so much to take advantage of. This is just a peek.

Memphis at Parkland Theatre 
April 5th to 22nd
The 2010 Tony Award winner for Best Musical Memphis tells the story of the Dewey (Daddy-O) Phillips, the first white DJ to play black music in the 1950s. It’s loosely based on his story, but highlights some real issues about “the barriers of prejudice and oppression” during the “raucous birth of rock and roll.”  What I love about this musical is that it does hit those hard and heavy themes, discussing issues of race and representation that we still deal with half a century later. But it also delivers so much joy in beautiful, high energy music and a few dance numbers that I remember years after seeing it. This one of my favorite musicals, and I can’t wait to see what Parkland Theatre has in store.

Harold and Jean Miner Theatre
2400 W Bradley Ave, Champaign
April 5th to 7th, 13th to 14th, and  20th to 21st: 7:30 p.m.
April 15th and 22nd: 3 p.m.
Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for students and seniors. They can be purchased here

Poster from Parkland Theatre website. 

Roger Ebert’s Film Festival at the Virginia Theater 
April 18th to 22nd
Robert Ebert’s Film Festival, known as Ebertfest, is celebrating 20 years of showcasing overlooked films, mediums, and genres this year. You can check out some Memorable Moments from those 20 years here. This year promises to bring to bring some amazing movies to the screen, including The Fugitive on opening night, as well as some major names to town, including Ava DuVernay, Julie Dash, and Amma Asante, all female directors of color. Although not an official theme, this year definitely seems to showcase stories of people of color, with movies like Belle, Selena, 13th, Columbus, and Daughters of the Dust being showcased.

Virginia Theater
203 W Park Ave, Champaign
Full festival line up HERE.
Full festival passes are $150. Individual screenings are $15 each. More details here

Photo from Eberfest website. 

Boneyard Arts Festival in Champaign County
April 12th to 15th
The annual Boneyard Arts Festival is coming around again, “showcasing the broad range of creative activity flourishing in our community.” One of the main goals of the festival is to bring together artists and local businesses in order to showcase art throughout the county. This manifests in “more than just a traditional arts walk,” instead over 90 venues get involved to feature hundreds of artists, in Champaign, Urbana, U of I Campus, Rantoul, Homer, Mahomet, St. Joseph and Sidney. The scale of the festival alone is impressive to me, and I really admire the goals they talk about on their website, including providing opportunities to artists, demonstrating the value of collaboration between artists and businesses, and “providing an occasion, through the arts, to both express and reflect upon who and what we are as individuals and as a community.”

Image is Boneyard Arts Festival Signature Image Happiness by Lisa Kesler. 

August: Osage County at the Station Theatre. 
April 26 to May 12
August: Osage County started at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, where it won multiple Jeff Awards. Once it moved to Broadway, it won five Tony Awards, including Best Play. It also went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for that year and was later made into a movie starring Meryl Streep, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Violet Weston. It was well recognized as a masterpiece, a beautiful written, darkly comedic drama about a family mourning the loss of their father and dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy. The Station Theatre is producing it in late April, with Mathew Green as director and Joi Hoffsommer taking on the formidable role of Violet.

Station Theater
223 N. Broadway, Urbana
April 26th to 28th: 8 p.m.
April 29th: 3 p.m.
May 2nd to 5th and May 9th to 12th: 8 p.m.
Tickets are $15 each and can be purchased here.

Poster from Station Theater website. 

National Poetry Month
April is National Poetry Month! Here’s a chance to take a breather for yourself — perhaps away from the craziness of major festivals — and just enjoy the beauty of words. Check out a book of poetry from the library. Check out our article with master poet Laurence Leiberman. Or check out the poetry that will be featured on Champaign Urbana MTD buses while you’re taking a ride to work or class. Jason Lee Brown is this year’s winner of the CU Poetry Group’s contest, so his work will be featured on every MTD bus in celebration of National Poetry Month — celebrate on your commute!

Photo by Kate Fenton. 


All event information is accurate to the best of our knowledge, but things may change. You should always double-check the source before you make any firm plans. Thanks for your understanding.

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