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.
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Wednesday, February 8

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Film Mon Nov 09 2015

Dive into Cinematic Theater with National Theatre Live

Going into this production, I was skeptical about whether theater could be as beguiling on screen as when it's performed live. With the atmosphere of the Music Box Theatre at 3733 N. Southport Ave., I was hooked into the old-style bar/lounge and the theater complete with red curtain. During intermission, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews enlighten us as to exactly what they did to make it work. The lighting, the cameras, costumes and acting were all adapted for the NTL production, adding more depth and interaction with the characters on stage. I saw how much work needed to be done to bring us through the emotions and character changes. I would say it was a success. And a learning experience.

Although nothing can replace the reality of live theater, with props, stage and lighting in front of your eyes, if you and your friends are looking for another type of performance or perhaps have always wanted to see a UK/European production, National Theatre Live can bring that experience to you! In an effort to bring the ultimate viewing experience, they bring you up close and personal with actors and producers in carefully planned close-ups, all-stage views and more as you interact with the storyline along with the rest of the audience.

Continue reading this entry »

Jen Kraakevik

Film Wed May 27 2015

Talking 360° Video with GB's The Grid

360-degree source view
A 360° "Source" view of The Grid episode featuring the Art Institute of Chicago's MFA exhibition.

Last week, GB's short documentary series, The Grid, released three 360° videos shot with a special six-camera rig. The videos, which let you point the "camera" in any direction, were about the April 28th demonstration at the CPD headquarters, droning in the Chicago Park District and the Art Institute's recent MFA show. This week, we're talking with The Grid's Ben Kolak and Kiyomi Mino about working with this new format.

Continue reading this entry »

David Schalliol

Art Tue Mar 24 2015

Melika Bass: The Latest Sun is Sinking Fast at Hyde Park Art Center

When I read that the post-rock, Icelandic band Sigur Rós commissioned Melika Bass to direct and produce a music video for their composition, "Varðeldur," I wasn't terribly surprised. Bass' archetypical characters and magical components cohere with the subliminal sound that is the framework of Sigur Rós. The ethereal and red-headed character for "Varðeldur" appears as another one of Bass' character studies. In her current solo exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center in the Kanter McCormick Gallery, Bass presents a reoccurring character, as well as two male characters, who share similar professions but all live different lives.


The Latest Sun is Sinking Fast introduces familiar faces (if you're a Bass fan) and continues and expands on the past and present. The characters connect visually, thematically, professionally, and fictionally, throughout the installation-based exhibition at the HPAC. Archaic and modern, the characters crawl through bushes, bath in public restrooms, listen to sermons on an iPhone and work in their tool shed.

Continue reading this entry »

S. Nicole Lane

Video Tue May 27 2014

"2 Redheads" Comedic Look at a Supernatural Lifestyle

2 red heads - edited.jpg

What do you get when you combine a bolt of lightning, new found powers and two confused red-headed roommates unsure how to handle it all? No, it's not the newest X-Men movie or Michael Bay blockbuster. "2 Redheads," an original Chicago-based web series premiered this week, taking a comedic look at the supernatural world and putting their own spin on what happens when two normal women suddenly get superpowers. Let's just say they haven't quite gotten the hang of it...yet.

Continue reading this entry »

Megan Daley

Film Tue Feb 18 2014

Chicago-based Films of 2014

Chicago's film industry had a blockbuster year in 2013, which means that many Chicago scenes will be on the big screen in 2014. We've pulled together some trailers to the big budget Chicago-based films set to release this spring and summer.

Grand Piano

Tom Selznick, played by Elijah Wood, is widely known as one of the most talented pianists of his time, but he no longer performs live due to debilitating stage fright. Nearly five years after his most shattering experience at a public performance, Selznick returns to the stage in Chicago and tries to perform again. As Selznick begins playing in front of a packed, eager audience, he discovers a message written on his score: "Play one wrong note and you die." Selznick must attempt his most difficult performance yet and look for help without detection by the anonymous man behind the sniper, played by John Cusack.

Release date: March 7, 2014

Continue reading this entry »

Rima Mandwee

Video Thu Oct 17 2013

Watch Local: Check Out These Chicago Comedy Pilots

Photo: Exquisite Corpse

Local is a big deal these days. We eat local produce. Drink local brews (and spirits). Support local bands. But what about local television?

Sure, big budget shows like "Chicago Fire" shoot in the city, drawn here by tax incentives and the city's "rawness." But they're more Vienna Beef than Hot Doug's.

I'm talking about the homegrown talent gunning for a medium that has captured the imagination (and attention) of generations. The passion projects that are worth a million "King of Queens."

Six such projects debuted before an enthusiastic crowd this week at the Music Box before heading off to the New York Television Festival. Produced by folks from across Chicago's comedy and media production scenes, these pilots are funny, original, and well-deserving of your time.

And even if you couldn't make it to the Music Box, you can check them out below. I'm no critic so I'll just let the work speak for itself, with a quick description to help you decide if it might be something you're into.

Continue reading this entry »

Mike Ewing

Art Wed Aug 21 2013

Our Cultural Center

test.jpgI have been writing and producing a web series, that I am planning on launching in the middle of October, called Our Cultural Center. This series is focused on a non profit arts organization that looses their main funder, Gertrude Vandeberg. The Founder then has to turn to her ex-husband, a profit driven lawyer with no interest in the arts, in order to keep things running.

It has been a great journey and I am very excited to announce my cast, which has been assembled only yesterday, but the interesting thing, by design, is how many wonderful non profits find themselves in similar situations. As an artist I am often surprised at:
one, how little it takes to keep a non-profit organizations afloat and
two: that they have trouble raising it easily

These times are rough on everyone and the arts are struggling to find new ways of raising money I am hoping I, through comedy with Our Cultural Center, can open door to getting more people to contribute to, and enjoy the arts.


Video Sun Jul 21 2013

We Can Be Heroes: Platoon of Power Squadron Returns

Flight, super strength, or invisibility? Everyone wonders how extraordinary their lives would be with a super power. But what would that be like, really?

Platoon of Power Squadron (PoPS) is a web series where four twentysomething roommates suddenly find they can stop time, control electricity, read minds and multiply themselves.

It's an earnest take on the superhero genre, trading epic battles for Whedonesque realism and banter. The Platoon members are less "superheros" and more "people who happen to have super powers."

"It's very much about these four people who have these powers that they aren't using," said writer-director Jake Jarvi. "They feel like they're worth so much more than they're letting themselves be."

This theme of untapped potential and an uncertain future is a common thread among many shows about twentysomethings today, but PoPS explores it in a funny, unique way. "Girls" hasn't branched out into time-traveling wormholes or disobedient clones quite yet.

Jarvi assembled the platoon back in 2009 after returning from LA, where he found some success as an actor and filmmaker, including a role as one of the pledges in the movie Old School.

This team of friends includes Jarvi and his wife Eliza Toser, Carlyn Janus, and Craig Benzine, who has gained notoriety as YouTube vlogger Wheezy Waiter since the show began.

They filmed the first episode of PoPS in their Logan Square apartment, and every episode since has been an all-volunteer affair, produced with a bare-bones crew during epic 10-hour-long shoots.

Raising money through Indiegogo campaigns- and to a lesser extent, YouTube ads- the show delivers a very high level of quality in spite of its barely-existent budget. This is thanks to the months that Jarvi spends on editing and special effects work at his home in the north suburbs.

The show has been well-received online, as a global community on YouTube has tuned in to the first six episodes and kept in touch with Jarvi's progress on the latest installment through weekly blog updates.

"It never occurred to me that you could have an international audience in the tens of thousands," Jarvi said. "I don't know if we'd be on episode seven right now if they hadn't turned up."

Just released today, the latest episode of Platoon of Power Squadron continues a new chapter in the story: a villain has entered the picture. This mysterious evil is seeking power by any means necessary, and only the Platoon of Power Squadron can stop it- unless it finds them first.

Check out the latest episode of PoPS below:

Mike Ewing / Comments (1)

Video Mon May 20 2013

DIY Sci-Fi: Hank Frisco Boldly Goes There

Stepping onto the bridge of Hank Frisco: Galaxy Defender, bright orange vinyl shines off the walls. The swiveling captain's chair, beamed up from your grandparents' basement. And Hank's wisecracking robot, Archie, is clearly a guy wearing tinfoil-covered boxes. But that's kind of the point.

"We chose to do a sci-fi series because we wanted something that gave us the freedom to do crazy, weird things and could be done cheaply," explains Scott Lynch, one of the show's producers.

Accompanied by his trusty sidekick Bonzo, the confoundingly confident Captain Hank Frisco alliterates his way through the galaxy. His mission: discover new sources of grey matter and save a dying Planet Earth.

Continue reading this entry »

Mike Ewing

Art Mon Apr 29 2013

14 15 111 Kicks Off The Other Room Series

14 15 111: this is more than a series of numbers, it is a series of titles that will be presented at the first event in The Other Room Series at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. This is a multimedia collaboration by composer/songwriter Daniel Knox and photographer John Atwood. 14 15 111 is a suite of music combining live instruments (synth, voice, percussion, two tubas, electric bass, violin, cello and a choir), pre-recorded material, and field recordings (featuring excerpts from Knox's work with The Pushkin Theater in Moscow in 2012), all set to video of footage shot by Atwood.

The work 14 15 111 seems to be created within a closed feedback loop between Knox and Atwood, both referencing their observations and experiences. The start of this loop can come about almost anywhere. To try and honestly define the moment when it began would probably be futile, because, as all creative processes, these compositions seem strictly driven by the passions of the creators. Out of focus video creates beautiful two dimensional meandering compositions, sometimes shot through windows, which becomes the primary grounding source for space within the footage. The scenes are almost abstract, and show us a world we have seen before, it is all so familiar. It is difficult to fully suspend the video into abstraction because throughout the video we are reminded that we are the creators of our reality, we tell ourselves stories, fill in gaps, and finish narratives. 14 15 111 successfully, although subtly, reminds us how much we take for granted.

Two performances of 14 15 111 are currently scheduled, one on May 2 at 7pm and the other on May 3 at 7pm. Tickets are available now for $15


Video Fri Apr 12 2013

Rooftop Sessions Take Artists to New Heights

RooftopSessions2.gifFor anyone living in a city, the view from above is humbling. There's a vastness to the urban landscape that's easy to forget on the ground level.

Rooftop Sessions is a web series that takes independent and up-and-coming bands above the Grid for an intimate, unplugged-style performance.

"Bands get used to playing at Sub T and Double Door and it becomes very rote for them; but when you make them strip down and put them up on a roof you inspire a whole different performance," said Joel Hoover, one of the series' producers.

Continue reading this entry »

Mike Ewing

Comedy Wed Apr 03 2013

Party Like a Kardashian on Sunday at Studio Paris


Fawzia Mirza's hilarious web series "Kam Kardashian," which follows the daily adventures of the long-lost gay Kardashian sister Kam, is having a huge season two launch party this Sunday in association with the monthly Chicago queer event "T Party" at Studio Paris in River North. If you want to party like a Kardashian with some of the funniest and most successful people in Chicago, Studio Paris on Sunday is definitely the place to be. I had a chance to talk to Mirza, the creator and star of "Kam Kardashian" and director Ryan Logan , about their incredible project as it launches into its second season, and why you can't afford to miss the upcoming sexy fun Kardashian party this weekend.

What are you most excited for about the Season 2 launch party?
Logan: We're excited to launch our season at the T Party at Studio Paris because it's a place where everyone can have fun, celebrate in style and party like a Kardashian but in a queer-friendly environment. And I am always eager to bring different communities together: queer, comedy, theatre, film.

Continue reading this entry »

Caitlin Bergh

Video Thu Mar 28 2013

The Recession may be Over, but Funemployed is Coming Back

funemployed-logo.jpgComing of age during the Great Recession presents all kinds of problems for Millennials/Gen Y-ers/twentysomethings. A lack of full-time employment. Useless college degrees. Growing a beard.

"Funemployed," an independent web series returning for its third season on March 31, is both a product of and a funny take on the "new normal" facing new adults today.

Set and filmed in Chicago, the series follows a group of friends as they graduate from college and begin their search for fame, love and glory. What they find is a series of temp jobs and complications.

Continue reading this entry »

Mike Ewing

Review Sat Dec 15 2012

Review: MusicNOW @ Harris Theater

So on Dec. 3 I had the pleasure of going to the Harris Theater to see the second of four concerts in the MusicNOW series for the 2012/13 calendar, and ti should be said that this series has been in existence since 1998. This series focuses on... well, I am not exactly sure what this series focuses on because that information was not clearly spelled out on on the CSO's website. I did go to the event, so I was privy to the fact that it focuses on new and local composers in some fashion. Don't ask me how exactly, that was kind of lost on me when one of the pieces was over 15 years old and only one of the four composers was local, kind of; I feel that a more apt title to the series would have been MusicKindOfRECENTLY. Putting all that aside, because who wants to go the symphony and bitch about semantics anyway, onto the music, but not yet exactly.

Continue reading this entry »


Art Tue Dec 04 2012

Video: The Installation Experiment

Filmmaker Steve Delahoyde created a short documentary for Alternative Apparel's Common Thread blog about The Installation Experiment. Installations by Nikki Renee Anderson, Gerda Meyer Bernstein, Barbara Cooper, Chelsea Culp, Ben Foch, Barbara Hashimoto and Bernard Williams was on view in the Chicago Arts District's ShowPOD spaces from Sept. 9 to Oct. 31.

Andrew Huff

Video Wed Oct 10 2012

Going Door to Door for the 51st Ward

By Doug Rapp

With the national election dominating the headlines, a new web-based comedy series is looking at politics at the local level.

"Door to Door," written by Tommy Reahard and Tyler Dean Kempf, follows brothers Andy and Evan over a single day as Andy tries to collect 100 signatures to run as alderman for Chicago's fictional 51st ward. Andy's task is complicated by the well-intentioned but easily distracted Evan and the eccentric residents in their ward.

Continue reading this entry »


Art Fri Sep 07 2012

Tony Karman on Expo Chicago

I recently got the opportunity to catch up with Tony Karman about his new endeavor EXPO Chicago. Tony remarks on many of the contributing parties that really made EXPO become what it will be.

Continue reading this entry »


Art Wed Jun 06 2012

Body Works: The Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival


Image of Saiko Kase courtesy of the artist

Chicago is a city historically-rich in the practice of performance art. But like many artistic practices that were once prominent in the city, it is only now that this history is being recognized on a grander scale. Featuring a mix of 29 local, national, and international performing artists, the first Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival aims to address both the city's emerging practitioners of performance art as well as the eclectic array of seasoned performers across the globe. The festival runs through June 10 at various venues across the city.

Continue reading this entry »

Britt Julious

Interview Tue Apr 24 2012

Funding in the Arts: Less Funds = More Work

An interview with Terry A. Scrogum of the Illinois Art Council reveals that, although less funding is available, selection processes remain rigorous. This forces arts organizations to do more for less.


Improv Fri Jan 27 2012

From the Vault: "The Second City's 149 1/2 Edition"

The Second City has a deep vault of material shot over the years that they've posted on YouTube -- including a special made-for-TV show called "The Second City's 149½th Edition" made for A&E. The 48-minute show featured a young Steve Carrell and Jackie Hoffman; Stephen Colbert and Amy Sedaris were among the writers. It's hard to tell whether it ever aired, but it was available on VHS from A&E Home Video. Watch the whole thing, sans commercials, here:

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

Video Tue Dec 13 2011

Chicago Animated

Local artist Nate Otto sent me this video last week -- his animated ode to Chicago. Check it out, it's damn charming:

Kelly Reaves

Comedy Tue Dec 13 2011

When Nerdery and Comedy Collide

Chicago comedy duo Awkward Spaceship is on the front page of BuzzFeed today with their newest video, "Doctor Who Yo Mama Jokes." They drop jokes about Time Lord technology, Captain Jack Harkness, and even the Face of Boe. If those references mean nothing to you, you can go back and watch Awkward Spaceship's "If Computer Problems Were Real," while you add all of the David Tennant episodes of "Doctor Who" to your Netflix queue.

Dyan Flores

Video Wed Nov 16 2011

Kyles' HR X-Files

You know Kyra Kyles from her column in the Red Eye. What you may not have known is that she's also an aspiring filmmaker. Kyles and her sister, Kozi, recently released the trailer for their first project, "Human Resources," a web series starring puppets that she describes as "'Sesame Street' meets the 'X Files'" that debuts today.

You can read a full interview with the Kyles sisters in Tuesday's Truth B Told newsletter.

Andrew Huff

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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 »


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