Arts and Culture

Paul Dennhardt

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of a classic of existential comedy.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead debuts tomorrow at Illinois State University's Westoff Theater.  The play gives a view of Shakespeare's Hamlet from the perspective of two minor -- and somewhat dimwitted -- characters.  

Gary Jones

One of Dorothy Day's favorite quotes comes from one of her best-loved authors, Dostoyevsky. "The world will be saved by beauty."

ParkLands Foundation

For 50 years, the ParkLands Foundation has been preserving and protecting historic natural lands in the Mackinaw Valley, helping to sustain biological diversity of native plants and wildlife while providing pristine areas for recreation.

Scott Rankin

Photographer Scott Rankin has for years been pursuing the mercurial beauty of the sky, snapping tens of thousands of still images.  A select group of those photos, plus video, are currently on display a the McLean County Arts Center in Bloomington.

Public Domain

Film director Alfred Hitchcock is thought of as "the master of suspense." Bill McBride argues Hitchcock's style is just as important. 

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

Romances were often forbidden in the circus.  Harry Potter was a famous trapeze artist.  And circuses hated Texas.  These are some of the tidbits of circus history you'll find in a route book.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

For students enrolled in the MFA program in the Illinois State University College of Fine Arts, the MFA Biennial is a chance to show off their artistic chops.

Woodle Wonderworks / Flickr via Creative Commons

A classic Star Wars villain made a return appearance in the most recent offering of the film series, Rogue One. While some fans were delighted, others were troubled.

Judith Valente/GLT News

As a teenager, Robert McLaughlin would go to the public library in the small town in upstate New York where he grew up and check out the cast albums of Broadway musicals. 

One of those musicals was Stephen Sondheim's "Company" from 1970. 

"I knew his name from "West Side Story," but I didn't know this musical, "Company." It started with all these voices overlapping, calling out the name of the main character. I'd never heard anything like that. It was one of those moments when your heart goes whoo. And I was hooked from then on."

Now McLaughlin has a new book out that looks at the artist and the man, called "Stephen Sondheim and the Reinvention of the American Musical." 

vyla / Flickr via Creative Commons

Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire features an uneasy - and eventually explosive -- chemistry of class, gender politics and sex. Community Players is staging the iconic show beginning this weekend.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

The Children's Discovery Museum in Normal has a new head who wants to lead the organization onward, and, perhaps, upward.  

Illinois State University

Illinois State University creative writing professor Gabriel Gudding specializes is crossing literary genres.

His work often mixes poetry with essay, memoir, history and even scientific research. He wrote one collection of poems as a notebook chronicling his frequent road trips between Illinois and Rhode Island to visit his daughter.

Gudding also isn't afraid to take on complex subjects. His most recent book is Literature for Nonhumans, which explores the often regrettable relationship between humans and the animal and plant worlds.

Paint Impact / Flickr via Creative Commons

The House of the Mouse has done it again. After the success of The Force Awakens last year, Disney has released a new stand-alone Star Wars movie that's hitting home as it takes audiences to a galaxy far, far away.

It's A Wonderful Film

Dec 15, 2016
Don Graham / Flickr via Creative Commons

It's a good thing that the Frank Capra classic, It's A Wonderful Life, was a failure when it was first released in 1946.

Pete Guither / Illinois Shakespeare Festival

The 2017 season for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival marks the 40th anniversary for the summer theater event, and in order to celebrate the ISF is filling the season with magic.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

Dick Folse ventures into imaginary worlds when he sets out to paint a landscape.  His latest works are currently on display in the show Abstracted Landscapes at the McLean County Arts Center in Bloomington. 

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

The Bloomington-Normal Arts Collective is facing recent turmoil on the political scene with a three-day  exhibition called Art for a Change. 

Selena N.B.H. / Flickr via Creative Commons

There's nothing like a movie that can make your mouth water. It's fun to savor movies involving food and cooking, luxuriating  in the morsels created, finding inspiration -- but never paying the price of too many calories.

Larry Kanfer / "A Prairie State Of Mind"

Photographer Larry Kanfer celebrates the Heartland in his new book, A Prairie State of Mind.  The serene beauty and remarkable contrasts of the prairie cycle through the season's in Kanfer's book. 

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

Tom Ashbrook, an award-winning journalist who has covered stories all over the world, came home last week to central Illinois.   Based in Boston at WBUR, Ashbrook was the guest this past Friday for the 2016 GLT's Radio Faces.  He's currently the host of NPR's On Point, though his resume includes forays into  Alaskan oil fields as a surveyor, and a producer of international editions of vintage Chinese Kung Fu movies.  

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

On this Veterans Day, Americans  across the country are honoring those who served.  A visit to the Illinois State University Archives reveals  some of the various ways those associated with ISU served their country, including  how the first president of the university risked his life in battle, and how the university's first librarian helped document the activities of students turned soldiers.

Community Players

Before there was Broadway hit "The Book of Mormon" and the popular Disney film "Frozen," composer-lyricist Robert Lopez collaborated on an odd hybrid of a show  in a theater workshop that used both puppets and actors.

Geoff Hughes / Heartland Theater

Peel back the flesh of The Homecoming  and you'll find a dangerous family dynamic that plays out to a shocking conclusion. Heartland Theater in Normal is currently staging this masterpiece of contemporary drama by Harold Pinter, who carefully charts the tumultuous inner workings of a working class English family.

Kendra Paitz

The latest exhibition at the University Galleries in Normal allows contemporary women artists to explore the legacies of the writers who inspire them. It's Strange Oscillations and Vibrations of Sympathy, currently on view. Very much in the vein of inspiration, the title of the show was written by one writer, underlined by another and used to inspire a work of art.

Gordon Vayo

A Twin Cities native is the runner-up in the World Series of Poker, which wrapped up play early this morning in Las Vegas. 

mcfarlandmo / Flickr via Creative Commons

Season seven of The Walking Dead just started, returning a terrifying vision of a zombie apocalypse to the small screen.  It's quite a departure from TV 40 years ago, when the supernatural was often depicted as funny and cute, like on the show, Bewitched.  At least that what it seemed on the surface. 

Kim McCord

Being a rock musician isn't just a young person's game.  An Illinois State University music professor wants to help people of all ages live the rock n' roll dream.

Flickr

A charismatic populist candidate for president promotes a platform to create prosperity and restore America to greatness. Sound like today's headlines?

It's the plot premise for Sinclair Lewis' 1935 novel, It Can't Happen Here.

Things did not turn out well for the America that elected Lewis' fictional candidate, Buzz Windrip.  He quickly outlaws dissent, dilutes Congress' power by dividing the nation into administrative districts led by businessmen, and establishes a Gestapo-like police force called The Minute Men.

Renjishino / Wikipedia

Route 66 conjures up nostalgic memories for many white's of a certain age in the United States. Television, print, and other media often invoke the highway as a symbol of freedom in a simpler time.  For black Americans of that time, memories of traveling Route 66 are likely to evoke different symbols, as summed up by music legend Aretha Franklin's brother Cecil in the June 28, 1968 Time Magazine profile on Soul music.

"Driving eight or ten hours trying to make a gig, and becoming hungry and passing restaurants all along the road, and having to go off the highway into some little city to find a place to eat because you're black - that had its effect."

Harry Pherson / Flickr via Creative Commons

The mother of all roads is turning 90 this year.  To celebrate nine decades of travel across the wide open spaces of America, Route 66 lovers are converging on the Twin Cities later this week.  The 2nd Annual Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference is Thursday through Sunday, featuring a variety of speakers, historic tours and more.  

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