As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. 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 over the past 12-plus years. 

TODAY

Tuesday, December 12

Gapers Block
Search

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


A/C
« 3Peat at the Playground: Too Funny to Miss Lipstick Goes on Last: Family, Friends and Fidelity »

Theater Wed May 22 2013

Speech & Debate Speaks to a Wide Audience

Group interpretation, original oratory, extemporaneous commentary. These are some of the graphic titles projected to introduce new scenes throughout Speech & Debate at American Theatre Company (ATC). That may sound like a yawnfest for speech majors but in the hands of four talented performers, they signal funny but searing explorations of teenagers trying to sort out their identities. This is doubly tough in an era where online activities further complicate the growing-up process.

ATCspeechdebate-GB.jpgSpeech & Debate is written by Stephen Karam, whose play Sons of the Prophet will be presented by ATC in 2014. Karam and director P. J. Paparelli cowrote columbinus, recently presented by ATC and now on national tour.

Speech & Debate brings together three students in an Oregon high school who are misfits of one kind or another. They find they have similar interests in fame and free speech and determine to expose the online life of one of their teachers. Don't think of this play as a show for teens. The characters are not juveniles nor are they portrayed as adorable problem children. They are real people and the play's insights and commentary are relevant to theatergoers of all ages.

Solomon (nerdy guy who wants to be a journalist) is played by Will Allen. Diwata (frumpy girl who loves musicals) is delightfully played by Sadieh Rifai and Howie (gay guy who participated in a suggestive online chat with a teacher) is played by William Patrick Riley. Each student has something to hide and the play proceeds to reveal their secrets and acknowledge their hard-won identities. They rebel at school censorship policies and make fun of school programs such as the "stranger-danger" forum where students are warned not to let anyone touch them in their "bathing suit areas."

The fourth actor (Janet Ulrich Brooks) is double-cast as a sympathetic but firm teacher and a ditzy newspaper reporter, in an anachronistic getup. (Do reporters really wear pencils in their hair?)

Diwata's goal is to win the lead in a coming dinner theater musical and to show that even someone odd and frumpy can be a musical star. She succeeds in persuading Howie and Solomon to join her in the new Speech & Debate Club and they present a "group interpretation" of a story involving a character from Arthur Miller's The Crucible and a teenaged Abraham Lincoln. The three later dance in costumes that they strip to reveal Diwata in a nude body stocking and Howie and Solomon in flesh-colored t-shirts and boxers. The "bathing suit areas" for each are marked with black tape.

The dialogue is smart and funny and the actors do a good job of living in their roles. Paparelli keeps the play going at a fast pace for 100 minutes. The graphic scene projections and targeted lighting also help move the 12 scenes along.

~*~

Performances of Speech & Debate are at 8pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2pm Saturday and Sunday through June 23 at American Theatre Company, 1909 W. Byron. Tickets are $38-43 and can be purchased online. For more information, call 773-409-4125.

Photo by Michael Brosilow. Sadieh Rifai and Patrick Riley.

 
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 »

Blogroll

ACRE
An Angry White Guy
Antena
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
Collaboraction
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Defibrillator
Devening Projects
Digressions
DIY Film
ebersmoore
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
HollywoodChicago
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
InCUBATE
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
J-Pointe
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Marquee
Mess Hall
N'DIGO
Neoteric Art
NewcityArt
NewcityFilm
NewcityStage
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Onstage
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
Performink
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
SAIC Blog
The Seen
Sharkforum
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Steppenwolf.blog
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
threewalls
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Vocalo
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store

 

Events


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, nancy@gapersblock.com
A/C staff inbox: ac@gapersblock.com

Archives

 

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