Category Archives: Uncategorized

SHAW’S YOU NEVER CAN TELL: Is a Father Necessary?

In an issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, Judith Stacey, a professor of sociology at New York University, and Timothy Biblarz, a demographer from the University of Southern California, consolidated the available data on the role of gender in child rearing and concluded “based strictly on the published science, one could argue that […]

Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Othello: The Dark against the Light, Prose against Poetry

What is particularly, and shamefully, interesting to us now is the fact that a black man should be acceptable, to an audience inclined to xenophobia, as a great leader of men. Othello’s colour had no connotations of enslavable inferiority. There were great negroes about in those days (or Moors – Moor being a generic term […]

The Raven Theatre’s A LOSS OF ROSES: The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

The story of Chicago’s role in fostering the career of Tennessee Williams is well known. But Chicago’s role in the career of America’s other great playwright, William Inge, is not as familiar. In 1944 the young drama instructor, William Inge, met the would-be playwright Tennessee Williams in St. Louis where both men lived. Williams invited […]


In April 1945, when the US army was requisitioning Richard Strauss’s villa in the Bavarian Alps, the frail 81-year-old composer emerged, blinking. Many years had passed during which the world had seen incredible changes, but the maestro’s soul was intact: “I am Richard Strauss, the composer of Der Rosenkavalier.” Nostalgia informs the world out of […]

THE OLD FRIENDS: Horton Foote’s Walpurgisnacht

Modern playwrights often produce plays of such psychological cruelty that the term “Walpurgisnacht” is used. Also known as “Witches’ Sabbath,” during this “Walpurgis” night, witch-like and demonic characters’ dance, sing, drink, and become involved in all sorts of orgies. The term “Walpurgisnacht” has come to refer to any dramatic situation which possesses a nightmarish quality […]

THE HEIR APPARENT: A Matter of Style

Americans have always had a problem with affectation. Our first comedy, Royal Tyler’s The Contrast (1787), draws a sharp distinction between the emerging American style of Colonel Henry Manly and his pal Jonathan, and the Britisher, Mr. Billy Dimple and his servant, Jessamy, while acknowledging the bedrock importance of matters of style – national, ethnic, […]

Lyric Opera’s The Merry Widow: ENCHANTMENT

Just about midway through Slovak composer Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow, the heroine, Hannah Glawari, sings a folk tale which not only reveals her strategy for winning the mating game she’s playing with old beau Count Danilo Danilovich, but also discloses how this beloved chestnut of the musical theater can continue to exert its great […]


After thoroughly enjoying the first performance of Noel Coward’s Private Lives in 1930, critic Ivor Brown predicted, “within a few years’ the student of drama will be sitting in complete bewilderment before the text of Private Lives, wondering what on earth these fellows in 1930 saw in so flimsy a trifle”. It took more than […]

Lyric Opera’s WOZZECK: Apocalypse Now

Alban Berg’s Wozzeck is the Guernica of the opera world -apocalyptic, boldly declaring a new way of representation, and resistant to simple interpretation. While some viewers called Guernica “a hodgepodge of body parts that any four-year-old could have painted”, and the dream of a madman, others championed it as a landmark in art history. Berg […]

EAST OF EDEN: Steppenwolf’s Triumphant “Story of Every Human Soul”

What makes the Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Terry Kinney’s direction of Frank Galati’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden superior in every way to the 1955 Elia Kazan directed Paul Osborn scripted film? Let me count the ways. First, Steppenwolf understands Steinbeck’s story. Despite his deserved fame as a stage and screen director, […]