Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Tuesday, May 21

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Great Scene Some Like it Cold »

Theatre Wed Feb 10 2010

Hollywood in Englewood

Many artists (i.e., actors, singers, producers) who start their career in Chicago often leave the Windy City for the bright lights of Hollywood--but not Mark Harris--for this director, producer and screenwriter from the South Side, Chicago will always be "home."

Growing up in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, Harris always knew he would someday become a writer. "It's my gift," he said. Later, he left a job in corporate America to pursue his dream; for him, it was a risk he knew he had to take. "I had no fears at all. I knew I wanted to do it and I never looked back," said Harris.

Without any regrets, Harris began to hone his craft, and in 1997, wrote his first screenplay. Writing remained his passion; however, he yearned to do more: He wanted to spearhead his own films. "I started out as a writer and then branched out. I realized if I wanted my own projects, I had to do them myself."

And 1555 Filmworks was born.

Harris founded 1555 Filmworks as a vehicle to write, direct and produce films with stories that he himself wanted to see onscreen. "I wanted to tell stories from an African-American perspective," he said. "Films are a powerful form of entertainment--they can change people's lives. As a filmmaker, I think we should focus on uplifting and my films do just that."

His first film, which he also wrote, directed and produced, was Why Men Cheat in 2005. From there, Harris went on to write and produce several more films, including Nothin' 2 Lose, II, starring actor Brian Hooks.

Through the success of his films, Chicago is never far from Harris' mind; in fact, he not only makes all his films here, he also works with a regular rotation of Chicago actors and comedians, including Rodney Perry, Vanessa Fraction and Damon Williams. "Working with performers who are from Chicago is very conscious on my part. Because I'm also a native of the city, I try to, whenever I do anything, use Chicago actors."

Harris' latest venture takes him from film to the stage with the play, Friends with Benefits, a play he produced with Barry Bowles, with Hooks in the lead role. "Friends" is the story of a group of friends from college who get together for a school reunion. During the reunion, many dark secrets begin to surface, and the audience learns about the consequences of having "friends with benefits."

But according to Harris, "Friends" almost didn't come to Chicago.

"Barry and I have worked together before. He wrote the play and asked me to read it and I loved it," he said. "He wanted to take the play to Los Angeles, but I had to convince him to bring it to Chicago."

And Harris wouldn't have had it any other way.

Friends with Benefits is playing Saturday, Feb. 13 at the Harold Washington Cultural Center, 4701 S. King Dr. Show times are 3pm and 8pm; tickets are $25-$35 for both shows. Contact 1-800-660-7155 for more information.

Mark Harris photo courtesy of 1555 Filmworks

GB store
GB store

Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


An Angry White Guy
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Devening Projects
DIY Film
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Mess Hall
Neoteric Art
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
The Seen
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store



A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.

About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop,
A/C staff inbox:



A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15