Arts and Culture

Peter Guither / Illinois Shakespeare Festival

At the first-ever Illinois Shakespeare Festival -- back when it wasn't even called that yet -- the plays were staged on the tennis courts at Ewing Manor in Bloomington.  Forty years later and the acclaimed festival has its own spiffy theater at Ewing and a great reputation as a local cultural gem.

Ralf-Finn Hestoft / Associated Press

She was the first African American ever to win the Pulitzer Prize, and first black woman inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She was only the second person to serve as Illinois Poet Laureate, succeeding Carl Sandburg. She was also the state's longest-serving laureate, an unpaid position she held for more than 30 years.

Illinois is pausing this month to celebrate the life and work of this woman of firsts,  who would have turned 100 on June 7.

Malls: Love Gone Cold

Jun 13, 2017
WGLT

What was once a ubiquitous part of American consumer culture now seems to be sliding towards extinction.  A recent study suggests 15% of traditional shopping malls will disappear in the next decade.  When we lose the malls, do we  lose something more than just a collection of shops?

Jason Judd / University Galleries

The walls of the University Galleries in Uptown Normal are filled with joyous, colorful works of art.  That's not at all unusual, except that this art was created right in the space where its being exhibited in a celebration of creativity, inclusion and collaboration.

Dennis Beck / Broadway Tour

A story line taken from Tolstoy's War and Peace. A musical remake of the nineties film Ground Hog Day. The trials of an anxiety-ridden adolescent and the true story of a Newfoundland town faced with hosting stranded air travelers on 9/11. 

Those are the themes of this year's line up of Tony nominees for best musical. The four nominated musicals are Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,Ground Hog Day, Dear Evan Hansen and Come From Away.

Got Ten? See A Play!

Jun 2, 2017
MaxiPixel / Google Images via CC

In just ten minutes, Heartland Theater can give you a play from start to finish.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

The Penguin Project of McLean County is staging the musical James and the Giant Peach, Jr. this weekend in U-High's Stroud Auditorium.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

Forty years ago this week, the lines began to form around the block for Star Wars—a film that went on to explode not just box office records, but make a profound impact on culture.

Public Domain / Google Images

Instead of letting old plastic shopping bags clog our landfill or flutter around on the whims of the wind, one local group is upcycling them to help folks in need.

Friends of the Arts

At a time when student debt continues to escalate, the annual Gala at the Galleries event takes some of the sting out of paying for a fine arts education at Illinois State University.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

One of the most enduring characters in comic book history is Wonder Woman, and a new book lets us take a look behind the cuffs and tiara to gain a deeper understanding of the popular superhero,

New Route Theater

The second year of a New Route Theatre festival keeps the goal of the first year: attract an audience that reflects the diversity of the community. 

The Voice of Pride: 2nd Annual Festival of New Plays features four staged readings through May 7. New Route Theatre Artistic Director Don Shandrow said during Sound Ideas there was a call for submissions, and readers for the theatre narrowed down the final list.

Community Players

A classic thriller jumps from the screen to the stage in the latest production from Community Players.  Based on the film by Alfred Hitchcock, The 39 Steps takes a comedic twist in the footlights, but it still has Hitchcock's fingerprints all over it. 

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

In a dusty old bookshop, three tech obsessed young people face a perilous task to save all the books in the world from a dark force known as The Blank.

Zakk Fairley / Vigilant Studios

This weekend,  Normal Theater hosts the debut of the latest short film from Vigilant Studios -- Black Book.

Illinois Wesleyan University

There were few books in Cornelius Eady's household when he was growing up in Rochester, New York.

"We barely had a radio," he recalled on GLT's Sound Ideas.

Charles Osgood Photography

Renee Rosen's new historical novel "Windy City Blues" uses Chicago and its storied blues history as a backdrop to a story about perseverance and coming of age.

"I sort of see it as the story of three people who come to Chicago seeking a better life," said Rosen via Skype from her Chicago home.

California Cow / Flickr via Creative Commons

An Illinois State University professor's research has earned her an invitation to join a task force that is taking on the music industry.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

The McLean County Museum of History explores local agriculture history in their newest exhibition.

Gamma Phi Circus

Illinois State University is home to two unique and widely admired circus traditions -- Gamma Phi Circus, the 88-year strong circus arts program for students, and the Circus and Allied Arts Collection, part of the Special Collections at Milner Library. Both are keenly feeling the impending loss of The Greatest Show On Earth.

Jeff Roberson / AP Photo

The man credited with helping to create rock 'n' roll will be remembered during a public memorial on Sunday, April 9, in St. Louis. Chuck Berry died on March 18 at the age of 90.

Luis Perez / Flickr via Creative Commons

The complex relationships between humans and their robot counterparts are at the heart of a film festival at the Normal Theater this week.

wikimedia.commons

She disguised herself as a male hoping to study at a university. Her personal collection of books is said to have numbered 4,000. She once said women "can perfectly well philosophize while cooking supper. "

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz was a 17th century Mexican nun who wrote poetry and plays and championed a woman's right to study, learn and think for herself.

CWSC Panthers / Flickr via Creative Commons

Humor is a potent professor when it comes to diversity.  That's according to an advocate and speaker, who says the hit animated TV comedies South Park and Family Guy have a lot to teach us about our culture.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

There's been a transformation at the University Galleries in Uptown Normal with a new installation that is slowing evolving through a series of artist collaborations.

Community Players

Perhaps the most familiar opening notes of any American show come from composer Leonard Bernstein’s classic score for the musical, West Side Story.

With lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the show premiered on Broadway in  1957  and followed the rivalry between ethnic New York teens and young immigrant Puerto Ricans.

The show's opening lines, "Hey brown boy, this is our street ... swim back to where you came from," demonstrate perhaps just how little we’ve progressed as a nation since then.

Sangamon Auditorium

Before the People vrs O.J. Simpson became known as "the trial of the century," there were the trials of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, two fictional  characters based on real-life murderesses in the Broadway musical Chicago.

With a score by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the show evokes the boozy, sexy, smoke-filled jazz clubs of Chicago in the 1920s. It is on stage Monday and Tuesday this week at Springfield's Sangamon Auditorium.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

Through the simplicity of an art installation, a Peoria-based artist has fostered relationships between the nature of found materials and the interpretive impulses of the mind of the viewer.  

ISU Center for the Performing Arts

 With the record-breaking popularity of the Broadway musical Hamilton, revivals of another show about the founding of America were sure to follow.

The musical 1776, on stage at Illinois State University's Center for the Performing Arts, tells the story of some of the other founding fathers -- those who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Director Lori Adams said the struggles to bridge division and reach compromise that the show depicts mirror many of the same challenges facing America today.

K. Gabrielle / Flickr via Creative Commons

From the Hatfields and the McCoys to the Montagues and the Capulets, there's no denying the appeal of a big, juicy feud, especially when it bears the glamorous luster of Hollywood.

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