Arts and Culture

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.  

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

A hometown musician has returned to the Twin Cities to share an extraordinary musical instrument that, despite a series of unfortunate events, he managed to bring back to life.  Last year, GLT's Laura Kennedy produced a story we called 'How Do You Mend A Broken Harp?' It detailed the long road that musician Ted Nichelson took to restore a rare 86-year old Lyon and Healey harp.

White Chapel Press

Today is World Mental Health Day.  It's also the birthday of Rhoda Derry, who was born in 1834 and is the subject of a new biography entitled 44 Years in Darkness:  A True Story of Madness, Tragedy and Shattered Love.   A local author relates the painful tale of the Illinois woman who suffered through decades of mental illness and disfiguring self-abuse while institutionalized.  

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

After forty years, and Illinois State University graduate and acclaimed artist Wonsook Kim has returned to campus to share her work in a new exhibition, and to lend a hand to the next generation.

Emma Shores / WGLT

The McLean County Museum of History is offering a dramatic look at voices from the past in its cemetery walk over two weekends.

The walk attracts as many as 3,700 people annually. Most are school children attending weekday performances.

anax44 / Flickr via Creative Commons

The organizers of a traditional Indian dance festival in the Twin Cities are throwing the doors to the event open wide in order to make this an event for the whole community.  What's more, they're putting a Bollywood spin on the traditional Indian festival dance forms known as Dandiya and Garba.

Don Palma / Palace Events

Musicians and music fans will join together to support a local landmark with a new music series beginning October 1. The Duncan Manor Songwriter Series will support restoration of the Italianate-style mansion near Towanda. 

ISU School of Theatre and Dance

The Illinois State University School of Theatre and Dance has a diverse collection of plays to run this season, from old favorites to new and exciting works.  The  emphasis this season is on international playwrights.  

Vivien Evans, Flickr

The circular design known as the mandala is an ancient symbol that represents wholeness. Mandalas usually have a focal point in the center that can represent the divine presence within.

Paraclete Press

Adult coloring books have grown into a significant segment within the publishing market, and spirituality book publishers are picking up on the trend.

 Laura McKendree, national marketing representative of Paraclete Press, a spirituality book publisher in Orleans, MA, says doodling with crayons can be a pathway to prayer.

Judith Valente

Vesper services to mark the passing of day and the onset of evening are a tradition that derives from monastic life, and dates as far back as the 6th century.  Much Vesper music is based on the melodic lines of Medieval Gregorian chant.

Mike Mantin / Flickr via Creative Commons

The pages of children and young adult's literature are strewn with the corpses of many a mother.  A new collection of essays examines the role of the mother in books for young people and finds that moms can be so much more than what is currently portrayed in a lot of popular fiction.

Public Domain

Women are the pivotal characters in a film festival launching Wednesday at the Normal Theater, but that may not necessarily be a good thing. Femme fatales, or fatal females, usually set the plot into motion. 

Emma Shores / WGLT

More than 450 people celebrated Indian culture at Bloomington's Miller Park during the fifth annual Chariot Festival on Sunday, September 18. This festival is sometimes referred to as Ratha Yatra, literally meaning Chariot Festival. Ratha Yatra originated 5,000 years ago in India, on the East Coast state of Orrisa, in a city called Jagannatha Puri, according to festival ofchariots.com.

Ben Smith / Flickr via Creative Commons

The hugely popular Netflix documentary true crime series, Making a Murderer,  just nabbed four Emmy Awards in the nonfiction category.  The much-streamed show tapped into the on-going national fascination with true crime stories, and a local professor's research indicates some interesting reasons for our lust for true crime, especially women's thirst for the stories.

Jeff Dunn / Flickr via Creative Commons

A Grammy award-winning jazz superstar is making an appearance this weekend in central Illinois to give  the second-ever performance of a new work that combines jazz with classical music. The Ramsey Lewis Trio is appearing with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, Saturday at 8 PM in the Peoria Civic Center Theater to perform Lewis' Concerto for Jazz Trio and Orchestra.

Willamor, Flickr

Is Christianity a fading religion? Can the faith be born anew?

These are some of the questions that will be explored this weekend at the annual Jim and Gwen Pruyne Lectureship in Progressive Christianity, sponsored by New Covenant Community Church in Normal.

This year’s speaker is theologian and author Brian McLaren, known primarily for his writings on what’s called the “emergent church.” McLaren comes from an evangelical tradition, but often takes issue with traditional teachings and practices.

Terry Presley / Flickr via Creative Commons

We all love a good laugh.  But can that laughter help us in our career? One local career counselor thinks so.  Humor is a great communication tool, said Becky Mentzer , and it creates a great work environment.

Daniel Scully / Flickr via Creative Commons

 On Sept. 8, 1966, a new television series debuted, telling a tale of exploration and adventure in a space saga that, while only lasting three seasons, has gone on at warp speed to inspire an entertainment empire.

Heartland Theater

The tragic tale of a young boxer and his impact on the women in his life takes center stage at Heartland Theater. Welsh boxer Johnny Owen died shortly after his attempt win the WBC World Bantamweight title in 1980.  The story inspired playwright Sunil Kuruvilla to tell the tale through the prism of three women from a mining town in Wales.

A 4-night film series at Illinois State University asks the question, “Who is a terrorist, and why?”  The series, "Terrorism on Screen," begins September 1 and will include the showing of five films over four nights.  Dr. Erin Ponnou-Delaffon is an Assistant Professor of French at ISU and the organizer of the series.  She said her interest in creating the series came from her personal and professional interest in contemporary France.

"I watch the news very closely and have friends over there" said Ponnou-Delaffon.  "And certainly France is a country that has been rocked by terrorist events as of late, and is still struggling to come to terms with what that means for them.  Particularly in the light of next year's Presidential election."

John Atherton / Flickr via Creative Commons

The new season at Community Players kicks off with a comedy that asks, 'Coffee, tea or me?'  It's Boeing, Boeing, a classic French farce from the swinging '60's.  The show has a preview Thursday, Sept. 1, with the opening on Friday the 2nd.  The show runs through Sept. 11.

courtesy of Stephanie Castillo

When saxophonist Thomas Chapin died of leukemia at age 40, his obit in the New York Times hailed him as "one of the few musicians to exist in both the worlds of the 'downtown' experimentalist scene, and mainstream jazz."  Chapin died in 1998 just as his musical talent was emerging in mainstream jazz circles. Independent filmmaker and producer Stephanie Castillo was Chapin's sister-in-law. Her new film "Night Bird Song" documents Chapin's prodigious talent, creativity, and vision. After a screening at Canne, the film shows at the Normal Theater August 27. Castillo said while Chapin was alive, even SHE wasn't aware of his musical abilities, or the revered status he held in the "downtown" New York jazz scene.

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