Arts & Culture

‘Dunsinane’ spins Macbeth at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

By Jessica Gable

David Grieg’s Dunsinane may share a host of characters and a location with William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but the similarities to the Scottish play end there. Dunsinane, a production of the National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Shakespeare Company presented by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, is a witty, gritty and sometimes uncomfortably familiar look at the aftereffects of foreign military occupation. Buoyed by spectacular performances, brilliant staging and a hefty amount of sheer novelty, Dunsinane overcomes its pervasive, somewhat heavy-handed metaphorical tone to shine as a unique and profound bit of stagecraft in its own right, independent of its illustrious parent.

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Online crowdfunding helps self-publishers make their mark in print

By Elizabeth Elving

On Valentine’s Day the members of the Soon-To-Be-Pretentious Writers Club were scattered throughout the Harold Washington Library Center judging books by their covers. Once a month, the writers meet at the library, comb the shelves for books that appear compelling, and write original stories based on their selections. After a year of meetings, founder Greg Fairbank decided they had enough material to publish their own magazine.

“Ever since we started, I wanted to do a culminating work,” Fairbank said. “Having an end goal in mind is inspiring.”

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Local fashion designer, new mom expands business to Shanghai

By Mallory Hughes

Native Chicago designer Christina Fan is hoping to change the way women wear furs.

In 2008, Fan designed and launched C/FAN, a women’s wear collection, out of her apartment in Wicker Park. Responding to demand, the line quickly evolved into a contemporary fur accessories brand, featuring hats, scarves, vests and sweatshirts made from rabbit, lamb, fox and raccoon.

“It was born out of necessity due to our weather,” Fan said. “I wanted to offer something that was playful, season-less and easy to wear.” Continue reading

Review: Spike Lee’s ‘Da Sweet Blood of Jesus’

By Antoinette Isama

Spike Lee takes a stab at horror film with his first Kickstarter funded film, “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,” which opened this week. A remake of Bill Gunn’s 1973 independent film “Ganja and Hess,” Lee offers an uncanny analysis of religion, art and sexuality through a story of vampirism and uncontrollable addiction — literally and figuratively.

Dr. Hess Green (Stephen Tyrone Williams), an anthropologist studying the ancient Ashanti Empire, encounters an ancient dagger that alters his life, which is centered on his quaint, inherited 40-acre estate in Martha’s Vineyard. The film’s pace picks up when his mentally unstable research assistant, Dr. Lafayette Hightower (Elvis Nolasco), attempts suicide, then struggles to murder Hess with the dagger. After stabbing Green, Hightower, shocked by his own actions, kills himself. Green then comes back to life with an addiction to blood.

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Controversy over Lucas Museum continues

by Constantina Kokenes

Plans to build the large Lucas Museum of Narrative Art on Chicago’s lakefront near McCormick Place have been controversial since filmmaker George Lucas decided to place his museum in Chicago last June. Though lawsuits have been filed, the museum was not a major issue in this month’s aldermanic campaigns. Candidates for alderman in the 4th Ward, where the museum would be built, vary in their response to the museums.

The candidates touched on the issue during their campaigns before Tuesday’s elections.

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First Laughs, Second Time Around

By Jessica Gable

When Greg Luick submitted his one-act play, Work in Progress, to Piccolo Theatre’s First Laugh One-Act Festival last February, he wasn’t expecting to win. In fact, he hadn’t even expected to finish the play.

“It was originally a revue sketch that didn’t really seem to have an ending,” Luick said. “I wrote most of it 15-20 years ago and it was just sort of filed away. Then when I read the criteria for the First Laugh Festival, I was just sort of thinking about it and the ending just sort of popped into my brain. So, I just added that ending onto it and made it a one-act play. And that was what won the festival.”

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Second City’s Evil Stepchildren

By Jessica T. Gable

Michael Pieper approaches the craft of acting from very serious, ancient traditions. For him, the craft is rooted in Native American shamanism and his method of accessing a character is anchored by a very strong sense of spirituality. But he applies those traditions as a teacher at the premiere comedy institution in the Windy City- Chicago’s own Second City.

“I was drawn to shamanism when I was searching for my spirituality in my late 20’s,” Pieper, now 51, said. “I was raised Catholic and it just wasn’t clicking with me so I started to study other religions and I loved how shamanism connects you to the elements and the world around you.” Continue reading

VIDEO: Dancing helps students balance school and social life

By Megan Kramer

From AP classes to college applications and part-time jobs to volunteering, four student captains of Auroris Dance Company at Niles North High School are juggling busy schedules as they near graduation.

While dance is yet another activity to fit into their schedules, the captains are finding that this shared passion is actually helping them prioritize their time, foster social lives and escape from stress. Continue reading