‘Pipeline’ points to black lives matter

 
Tyla Abercrumbie and Matthew Elam in 'Pipeline' at Victory Gardens Theater. (Liz Lauren photo)
Tyla Abercrumbie and Matthew Elam in ‘Pipeline’ at Victory Gardens Theater. (Liz Lauren photos)

2 1/2 stars

 

In 90 short, uninterrupted minutes, playwright Dominique Morisseau lays out how the direct route from school to prison has become the American norm for young, black men. That is, if they’re not being gunned down by some trigger-happy police officer.

This is the hopeless existence depicted by the playwright of such important dramas as “Sunset Baby,” “Skeleton Crew” and the upcoming musical, “Ain’t Too Proud—the Life and Times of the Temptations.”

In director Cheryl Lynn Bruce’s new production at Victory Gardens Theater, a topic the playwright explored in a solo documentary, “Notes From the Field,” is starkly played out upon Andrew Boyce’s sparse, flexible scenic design. It’s a theatrical environment that wisely offers more focus upon the characters than the setting.

Tyla Abercrumbie, as Nya, commands the audience as a stressed out teacher at a crowded urban high school, a place where the security guards are just as important as the instructors. Coping with dozens of violent infractions every day is almost de rigueur.

Besides dealing with difficult students, Nya is a poorly paid, divorced single mother. She has tried hard to protect her teenage son, Omari, by getting him out of this dangerous environment and sending him to a private boarding school.

Now Nya has to address her son’s recent personal problem, while enduring the overbearing bullying of her estranged husband, Xavier, a man who’s been all but missing from his son’s life.

 

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A look at the coming Chicago theater season: Part Two

 

Downtown Chicago has a slew of good shows scheduled for the 2018-2019 theater season but don’t miss out on the shows that are likely to be Jeff Award Winners in the city’s neighborhoods and suburbs.

Our next peek at what will be playing checks on the Near North/Lincoln Park neighborhoods including the multi-theater venues of the Ruth Page Center and Greenhouse Center. Some theaters in the area have not published their season yet so stand by for more info.

Steppenwolf is in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. (Steppenwolf photo)
Steppenwolf is in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. (Steppenwolf photo)

A Red Orchid Theatre

The theatre, 1531 N. Wells St., starts the fall with “Small Mouth Sounds” Oct. 18 then goes into winter with “Fullfillment Cente Jan. 31 and into spring with “The Killing Game” May 2. For tickets and more information visit Red Orchid and call (312) 943-8722.

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Around Town: This weekend and coming days

There’s something for all ages and interests in and around Chicago. Just dress for the weather. After all this is Chicago.

 

'Where Did We Sit on the Bus' at Victory Gardens with and by Brian Quajada. Joel Maisonet photo
‘Where Did We Sit on the Bus’ at Victory Gardens with and by Brian Quajada. Joel Maisonet photo

 Theater

There is just a short time left to catch the awarding- winning actors, playwrights and shows is Victory Gardens’ Up Close & Personal series. Begun April 27 and running through June 4, 2017, the series features three plays.

“A Little Bit Not Normal,” written and performed by Arlene Malinowski, can be seen at 7:30 p.m. May 20 and 21. “Where Did We Sit on the Bus,” written and performed by Brian Quajada, is at 3 p.m. today, May, 20, and June 2 and at 7:30 p.m. May 24, 26, 28, 31 and June 4. “St Jude,” written and performed by Luis Alfaro is at 3 p.m. May 38 and June 4 and at 7:30 p.m. May 25, 27, June 1, 2, and 3.

The shows are in Victory Gardens’ Richard Christiansen Theater at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue.  For tickets and other information call (773) 871-3000 and visit Victory Gardens.

 

Stories

Chicago-area storytellers share experiences in “Israel: Many Voices from and of the Land 3:30-r:30 p.m. May 21 at the DoubleTree by Hilton. Doubletree is at 9599 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie. Local theater and TV actor singer (Steppenwolf, Drury Lane, CSI: NY) Dan Tatar is the emcee. Tickets of $5 advance and $10 at the door (if available) include complimentary Middle Eastern hors d’oeuvres before and after the program. For advance tickets and other information visit Spertus and call (312) 322-1773.

 

Be greeted by a robot at the Museum of Science and Industry. J.B. Spector and MSI photo
Be greeted by a robot at the Museum of Science and Industry. J.B. Spector and MSI photo

Robots

Interact with more than 40 robots at the Museum of Science and Industry’s Robot Revolution now through Feb. 4, 2018. Organized by the museum in 2015, the popular exhibit is back to have fun with Chicago area youngsters and adults following a highly touted tour. However there are also new robots such as Cube Solver that can do the Rubik’s Cube. But be sure to visit with RoboThespian, a humanoid robot that greets guests at the entrance and talk to Omron LD Mobile robot who roams the exhibit. Watch Soccer ‘bots play an autonomous competitive game and challenge Baxter, an industrial robot, to a game of tic-tac-toe. Visitors can also build their own robots with Cubelets.

The Museum of Science and Industry is at 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr. For admission and other information call  (773) 684-1414 or visit MSI

 

Beer

Chicago Craft Beer Week started May 18 but goes through May 25, 2017 and it’s not only inside the city limits. Beer events are also in Itasca, Antioch Lindenhurst, Plainfield, Lisle and Oak Park. They are also happening in Aurora, Evanston, Buffalo Grove, Darien, Romeoville, Glen Ellyn, Mokena and Schaumburg. To find an event near you on the date you want visit Chibeerweek and click on the date.

 

Chicago Riverwalk

OK, it’s raining Saturday, May 20, 2017 when the city celebrates its new fun area along the Chicago River next to Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue. But you can also check it out any day. The May 20 events go from 9 a.m. through 9 p.m. Visit Riverwalk for event schedule and suggestions.