Showing posts with label political theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label political theatre. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

REVIEW: Voice of Good Hope at City Lit Now Playing Through February 23, 2020

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
by City Lit’s resident playwright Kristine Thatcher
Directed by Terry McCabe
January 10 – February 23, 2020

FINAL 2 WEEKS! Don't miss this Chicago Reader Recommended and 4-Star 
Sun-Times show!

"FOUR STARS...captures the sense and sensibility of a bonafide powerhouse."
-Chicago Sun-Times

"Recommended...Voice of Good Hope comes just in time"
-Chicago Reader

Andrea Conway-Diaz as Barbara Jordan
Photo credit for all, Steve Graue

by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

As the senate impeachment hearings wrap up, caucus votes roll in, and the 2020 campaigns amp up, political plays are filling the stages of Chicago as well. I was finally able to catch City Lit's excellent production, Voice of Good Hope last night. It was great to learn so much about Barbara Jordan, the first African American congresswoman from the Deep South, that I was unaware of before. This production is a gem of wit and wisdom. Women like Barbara Jordan give me hope for our democracy and our country's future. If you're tired of the lies and lunacy that have infiltrated Washington DC, come spend a few hours at City Lit and recharge. Recommended. 

There are numerous strong shows on stage right now in Chicago, if you prefer your political figures to be articulate, intelligent and female. We recommend catching Voice of Good Hope at City Lit (Barbara Jordan), The Adult in the Room (Nancy Pelosi) at Victory Gardens, and A So-Called Qualified Woman (Sandra Day O’Connor), part of Valiant Theatre's New Works Festival. We also highly recommend Roe at The Goodman, for the back story on the Roe V. Wade ruling.

Voice of Good Hope
left to right: McKennzie Boyd, Jamie Black

The storyline of Voice of Good Hope is delightfully nonlinear and I enjoyed meeting her first as a politician, before delving into her childhood to meet the Texas child she was. Heart (Barbara as a child) was deftly played by McKennzie Boyd the day I caught the production, alternating with her sister, MiKayla. It was stellar storytelling to see the seeds of Barbara Jordan's determination, intelligence, perception and personality already in play as she interacts with her relative (Jamie Black) and discovers early lessons on racism, religion, and character. 

Her fierce determination, despite physical limitations is an inspiration. Although she ultimately died young, before age 60, of pneumonia and complications of leukemia and multiple sclerosis, her words and example live on. Now that we have another impeached president currently in the white house, Barbara's legendary history with Nixon's impeachment is all too timely. It was fascinating to me, how she protected her integrity and principles even after retirement, and wouldn't endorse or clear a fellow politician just because they were both black women, if she wasn't on board with her views. Conversely, it was a joy to see her navigating the good old boys network of cigarette smoking, whisky swilling Washington power brokers, and winning at it. She was truly an inspiration and a trailblazer today's women in politics might do well to emulate. 

Andrea Conway-Diaz (left) as Barbara Jordan and Susie Griffith as Nancy Earl 

Don't miss this. We're nearing the end of the run for Voice of Good Hope, so catch it while you can. City Lit does an excellent job of keeping her legacy alive and inspiring audiences. Do leave extra time to search out parking. It can be a challenge around Edgewater.

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer-theater critic-photographer-videographer-actress-artist-general creatrix and Mama to two terrific teens. She owns two websites where she publishes frequently: (adult) & (family friendly). 

Kristine Thatcher’s VOICE OF GOOD HOPE is a bio-drama of Barbara Jordan, the first African American congresswoman from the Deep South. Jordan earned national stature in the 1970’s as a member of the House Judiciary Committee that considered articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon and as the keynote speaker of the 1976 Democratic National Convention. Kristine Thatcher, who is City Lit’s playwright-in-residence, was nominated for Best New Work in the 2019 Jeff Awards for her play, THE SAFE HOUSE, which premiered at City Lit last fall. VOICE OF GOOD HOPE premiered at Victory Gardens Theater in 2000 and has been produced across the US since then. 

The play follows Jordan from her childhood in Houston’s Fifth Ward through her receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton, and deals with her pivotal role on the House Judiciary Committee during its hearings concerning the possible impeachment of President Richard Nixon, her complex political relationship with Texas power broker Robert Strauss, her struggle with MS, and her twenty-year relationship with Nancy Earl, her companion and occasional speechwriter, and ultimately her caregiver. The play premiered at Victory Gardens Theater in 2000 and has been produced from New York to San Francisco in the years since then.

left to right: Paul Chakrin and Andrea Conway-Diaz

The role of Barbara Jordan is played by Andrea Conway-Diaz. Also in the cast are Susie Griffith (Nancy Earl), Sahara Glasener-Boles (Karen Woodruff), Jamie Black (John Ed Patten), Paul Chakrin (Robert Strauss), Noelle Klyce (Julie Dunn); and McKennzie Boyd and MiKayla Boyd, who will alternate as “Heart” – Barbara Jordan as a child. The design team includes Ray Toler (set design), Katy Vest (costume design) and Daniel Salazar (lighting design).

left to right: Andrea Conway-Diaz, Sahara Glasener-Boles

Regular run Sunday, January 19 - Sunday, February 23, 2020
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm. Mondays February 10 and 17 at 7:30 pm

Regular run ticket prices $32.00, seniors $27.00, students and military $12.00 (all plus applicable fees).

Performances at City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Chicago 60660 (Inside Edgewater Presbyterian Church)

For forty years, City Lit Theater has been dedicated to the vitality and accessibility of the literary imagination. City Lit produces theatrical adaptations of literary material, scripted plays by language-oriented playwrights, and original material. City Lit Theater was founded with $210 pooled by Arnold Aprill (at the time the Body Politic Theatre’s box office manager), David Dillon, and Lorell Wyatt on October 9, 1979 and was incorporated on March 25, 1980.  There were still so few theatres in Chicago that at City Lit’s launch event, they were able to read a congratulatory letter they had received from Tennessee Williams.

City Lit is in the historic Edgewater Presbyterian Church building at 1020 West Bryn Mawr Avenue. We are two blocks east of both the Bryn Mawr Red Line stop and the #36 Broadway and the #84 Peterson buses. We are one block west of the #147 Sheridan and #151 Sheridan buses. Divvy bike stations are located at Bryn Mawr & Lakefront Trail, and at Broadway & Ridge at Bryn Mawr. The metered street parking pay boxes on Bryn Mawr have a three-hour maximum duration and are free on Sundays. $10 valet service is available at Francesca's Bryn Mawr at 1039 W Bryn Mawr diagonally across the street from us on the SW corner of Kenmore and Bryn Mawr and is available whether you are dining at the restaurant or not. There are additional details about parking and dining options at

City Lit is supported by the Alphawood Foundation, the MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Ivanhoe Theater Foundation, the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency and is sponsored, in part, by A.R.T. League.

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