(Weiss’s article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, 12/21.)

Queen Elizabeth II pronounced the year 1992 “annus horribilis,” the Latin term for “horrible year,” and while on many fronts that phrase could easily be applied to 2016, the Chicago theater scene defied the global norm. This was a powerhouse season — ranging from that great “elephant in the room” (the smashing Chicago edition of “Hamilton,” the first post-Broadway company of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s mega-hit musical), to a vast, citywide celebration of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, to a series of bravura one-person shows. I’d dub it an “annus mirabilis,” or “wonderful year.”

Here is my “top picks” list; it easily could have been twice as long:

“LEARNING CURVE”  (Albany Park Theater Project): Staged on all three floors of a shuttered Chicago parochial school, this fully immersive work (created and performed by a cast of 33 youth artists, under the direction of APTP artists and Third Rail Projects of New York) led audiences of 40 people through a stunning sequence of scenes capturing the life of a richly diverse group of students as they navigated the classrooms, halls, library, locker room and hidden spaces of a Chicago high school. A wondrous, one-of-a-kind masterwork, the piece featured the unique alchemy of APTP’s extraordinarily skilled young performers, and evoked life in a Chicago high school in ways that were so real, yet so imaginative — so disturbing, and so life-confirming — that you wanted to grab hold of every politician and school bureaucrat and say: Experience this show, and then do something.”

(Read more)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *