When I’m returning from the mothercountry (Indiana) after a holiday or family what-not, I like to get off I90 at the Stony Island exit. I meander through the ancient World Fair grounds, graze Hyde Park, and settle onto the Drive. It’s the most scenic jaunt of my journey! My favorite moment is coming around a curve and seeing the skyline exactly where I left it. Every time for seventeen years and a bazillion trips, the majesty of the buildings always swells me with a hometown pride. Seeing my ‘Oz’ sparkling in the distance, I finally can exhale with a contented ‘I live here!‘ smile. Theatre Seven of Chicago presents the world premiere of WE LIVE HERE. Who are the people in your neighborhood? A cafe server writing a blog about bad tippers. An avid Cubs fan wrestling with the Steve Bartman incident. A bike messenger crashing. A Montrose Beach hook-up. A kidney stone hazing. The *WE* in WE LIVE HERE is eight playwrights. Theatre Seven recruited local playwrights to compose a first-person account of Chicago by adaption. WE LIVE HERE is a collage of their coming-of-age-in-Chicago recollections.
Margot Bordelon and Cassy Sanders have conceived and directed an interesting ode-to-Chicago montage. In the background, Video Designer and Cinematographer Nivan Yahaghi flashes up authentic footage of Chicago life. Multi-generational, multi-cultural, multi-locational, people and places reflect on the Windy City’s weather, politics, and sports. In the forefront, an ensemble of nine performers take turns being the main character in a story. When not playing the lead, the ever-present talented cast morph into eclectic background by adding a 4-star sash, Cubs jersey, or coat. In a teeny, tiny part, Cyd Blackwell dons a headscarf, smiles and waves as someone’s old landlady. It’s a moment within many fantastic moments that totally pulls me into these memories.
Blackwell (Playwright Kim Morris) is also the lead in my favorite segment about a bike messenger. As Blackwell narrates her experience, the scene is perfectly choreographed. Between the descriptive words and imaginative movement, the story wins for most memorable. Another standout is the Desmond Gray’s (Playwright Scott T. Barsotti) amusing account of his Chicago initiation rite. What makes Gray even more colorful is the chorus thundering ‘you don’t move into Chicago, it moves into you.‘ Powerful and a little spooky! Since I’ve been a server and I am a writer, I’m easily engaged with restaurants as the setting for a writer’s real life. In particular, the server waiting out a table of ‘campers’ is hysterical. Behzad Dabu (Playwright Nick Ward) recreates every servers’ worst end-of-the-shift nightmare.
WE LIVE HERE isn’t a random sampling of neighbors. It’s more targeted! Bordelon and Sanders have created a combo of behind-the-writing snippets. The personal recall goes beyond the Playbill bio to share a seedling of the playwright’s Chicago roots. This show has multiple themes of creative types surviving on crap jobs to forward their art. For some, it’s hilariously relatable. For others, WE LIVE HERE is a nice reminder to appreciate, respect and tip people for their service in feeding our hunger for artistic stimulation.
Running Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission
At Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln
Conceived and directed by Margot Bordelon and Cassy Sanders
Written by Scott T. Barsotti, Molly Each, Laura Eason, Brian Golden, Kristin Idaszak, Kim Morris, Nick Ward and Doug Whippo
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm
Thru September 11th