A Progressive Summit: Thursday, December 28 8-11 pm

Val Leventhal and Linda Solotaire and friends, Bring you:

Progressive Summit: 

A Gathering of the Tribes

Thursday, December 28
8-11 pm
The OuttaSpace
An attempt to bring different groups together in solidarity to expand our work to protect our Democracy and our Diversity. There will be a sneak preview of a new Val Leventhal video from VR Sarti, live music all evening with songs to inspire activism and hope. There will be songwriters, there will be political enthusiasts, there will be a great venue with great local spirits for purchase, there will be no cover. This is not a fundraiser. Speakers will be limited to 5 minute presentations, after which they will invite you to come to their table to speak with them, take materials, sign up for petitions, and other upcoming actions! There is only one rule: No Arguing! We all love to debate our favorite issues. The mission of this event is to meet one another, learn from each other, and form solidarity! Let’s get busy networking to fix the mess we’re in! Whether you want to work on racism, sexism, immigration, the environment and animal rights, social security and medicare/medicaid, the creation of peace instead of war, voter’s rights, and the machinery and financing of elections, etc., etc., if we can’t get on the same page about some forward movement, nothing will get done.  All are welcome to join in the evening and find out what political action looks like! Hope to see some of you there. THere’s alot of work to be done in 2018!
The event will be 8-11 pm. There will be a list for performers and speakers – first come first served. After 11, music and discussion till the joint closes at 1 am.
And don’t miss Val on Playtime with Sid and Bill, Featuring Kerri Kendall on Sunday Dec 17th between 1-3pm on AM1590 WCGO, on Facebook Live and at www.1590wcgo.com

Occupy My Heart, 6 years on. Where are they now?

This month is the 6th anniversary of my play, Occupy My Heart: A Revolutionary Carol. It was my very first foray into Theatre. I wrote the play in less than a week, and was joined by amazing talent.  The play went from first reading to first show in less than 3 weeks.We received national attention, standing room only audiences, critical reviews and changed the media narrative on Occupy Chicago for a time, and raised more than two thousand Dollars for the cause. But where are all of the cast members today, and what are they up to?

KEITH GLAB: lost himself to the international acclaim from the show. He became a Pez Addict, squandering his musical condom fortune. he lives in a cargo container in his north side condo conversing with some 3200 empty Pez dispensers.

ZACHARY JOHNSON-DUNLOP: went on to become Oprah Winfrey. Born a tall white man with fiery red hair, Zach says he has never been happier than as a proud black woman deeply, deeply in love with Stedmon. He was there when Barack Obama was sworn in, and now lives in LA with a family of undocumented Panda bears.

TERESA VEREMENDI: moved to Colorado to find God. She found God, then became God until last May when she was laid off due to budget cuts. She now is currently hunting the Great White shark on the snowy slopes of Mount Everest. Asked why on a mountain instead of the ocean, Teresa says, “Safety first!”

BABUR REALER: Played a protester in the play. Inventor and activist, Babur is close to perfecting a flute which when played a certain way causes the pants of police and politicians to fall down. No tear gas here. More like tears in my eyes, LOL! After a health scare, Babur will return to his native Turkey, climb Ararat and rehab Noah’s Ark into a luxury cruise liner. Can you say LOVE BOAT?!

DONIER TYLER: teaches the Ninja arts to her First grade class. her goal is to defend without guns their school from ne’re do wells, bursting from waste paper cans, popping from lockers or dropping from ceilings. Tyler confesses that it is a work in progress. Until someone opens a “Baby Ninja” store outfits only come in adult sizes, resulting in sheer stumbling chaos the moment Tyler commands her students to attack.

TIM CALDWELL: Initially moved to New Orleans and grew to a height of over 90 feet in an effort to battle the George Bush monster. Tim purchased the mineral rights while drinking one night to snowflakes. You can find him each stormy winter’s day in scuba gear and wool mittens trying to collect on his investment.

REBECCA KLING: is a very private person, except on Thursdays when she is dancing topless at the DMV. She spends most of her time following the Google Streetview vehicles with a sign that says “View this!” In 2017, Rebecca realized a life long goal of climbing the highest mountain in Indiana.

AGNES OTAP: With proceeds from the play, she bought Poland. In 2015, just days after the sale was final, we heard she had joined an elite unit for the fight against Terror. Turns out it was the fight against TERRIERS, part of a worldwide struggle against annoying little dogs. Agnes returned from the war on Terriers, and though she says the war will continue for some time, she says that she is …dog tired. Yeah, I went there!

HANNA FREIDMAN: My director. If you have ever heard the phrase “Like herding a bunch of cats, “well, Hannah in 2014 actually did just that. Using many of the same strategies employed with the cast of Occupy My Heart, Hannah organized 47 feral cats who now perform Shakespeare around the world, except in parts of rural Indonesia, where tragically several were lost to a wedding brunch.


And I…I went on to become an itinerate vintage Elvis fan impersonator. Not Elvis Presley, Elvis Perkins, son of actor Anthony Perkins. It’s a virtual monopoly as I pioneer the act at Jiffy Lubes across the rural South. My motto, “Start small and be the biggest, fattest, hairiest fish in the little plastic kiddy pool in back of the trailer, out by truck tire sandbox where the dog was buried last year!” I am also pondering becoming a motivational speaker, as you can see.


The Prince of the Foster Ave Bridge…

Ana and I began distributing something to the homeless today because of the coming cold. Under the Foster Avenue Bridge I met Senad. His thin brown hair was He was sitting just inside a small donated tent. he hasn’t slept much lately. Someone is asleep beside him, hidden but for tennis shoes beneath layer old blankets and coats. It was rush hour. Traffic was backing up, and so was the exhaust. Senad’s health isn’t good. He’s lost many of his teeth, but when I said I knew Sarajevo like the back of my hand tears came to his eyes.
Senad said that he was once married and had a business. After his business collapsed his wife left him. Depressed, he started drinking. In the blink of an eye, it seemed, he was on the street.
“You know Sarajevo?” he asked, buoyed and uplifted.
“Like the back of my hand.”
“Burek,” he said, referring to a local meat pastry. “I miss burek.”
Senad tells me he fought during the war with a Bosnian special forces unit in Dobrinja 4, referring to a frontline apartment block that saw terrible fighting. He never thought about the war after getting sponsored to come here. Now, sitting in that tent under Foster Ave, he is haunted by terrible memories.
I tell him I was in Dobrinja during the war. I know how terrible it was there. he assures me that he will get back on his feet, and when he does he will take me to Bosnia as his guest and that I will want for nothing. His gaze at that moment is distsant. From this vantage point, at this moment, it is an impossible distance. Some part of him knows that.
i wish I could find him a way home. He says he has no one here. everyone he loves is in Bosnia. A bag of food and some clothes feels like such a paltry gesture. It feels like a drop in the ocean. I hand him a card. he speaks abstractly about a possible home assignment. I give him my card and tell him that when he gets a place I will help him with clothing, and do what I can to find him a job.
As I return to the car, I know full well there is a very good chance I will never see Senad again. The city swallows people up. The city has little mercy for its homeless. The city, and it’s princes, like Alderman Cappleman have used city resources to sweep people like Senad from the streets so as not to upset the new white wealth gentrifying the lakefront.
As I write this I am enjoying a meal of rice and chicken and salad. Senad may be lucky for a fruit cup…

Calamity West’s “Hinter”, based on a chilling true crime

For immediate release

By Calamity West
Directed by Brad DeFabo Akin
January 25 – March 3, 2018

Whispers and rumors had been swirling around the Gruber family farm long before the bodies were discovered on that cold April day. It’s 1922, and a remote community in Bavaria is reeling in the aftermath of World War I: gender roles are shifting, a generation gap is emerging, and farmers are battling poverty in the shadow of a growing urban Intelligentsia. Inspired by a chilling and true unsolved crime, Hinter is a darkly comic thriller by one of Chicago’s most exciting new playwrights.


In January, Company Member Brad DeFabo Akin returns to Steep to direct the world premiere of Calamity West’s Hinter, which was commissioned by Steep Theatre. West has quickly emerged as an important Chicago playwright, with recent acclaimed productions of her works Rolling (Jackalope Theatre) and Give It All Back (Sideshow Theatre). Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune dubbed West “the real deal“ and “one of this city‘s most exciting new voices.“ DeFabo Akin has delivered notable Steep productions including strangers, babies, Book of Days, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, and 2016’s The Few.

Hinter will feature Aurora Adachi-Winter, Lauren Sivak, Sasha Smith, Sigrid Sutter, Nate Whelden, Eunice Woods, and Steep Company Members Alex Gillmor, Peter Moore, Jim Poole, and Melissa Riemer.

“With her singular inventiveness and imagination, Calamity has breathed life into this obscure, terrifying incident from long ago and created a story that resonates deeply with much of what we’re wrestling with today,” said Steep Artistic Director Peter Moore. “It’s a fascinating story from a truly unique voice.”

About the Playwright
Calamity West is a Chicago-based, Kilroys-cited, award-winning playwright. Her play Hinter, is scheduled for its world premiere at Steep Theatre Company in the winter of 2018. Her newest play In the Canyon is currently in development at Jackalope Theater Company, and she recently joined TimeLine Theatre Company’s Playwrights Collective where she will be in residency for the next two years. Other full-length plays by Ms. West include: Tony Kushner Considers Writing A Gay Fantasia Based On National Themes (2017), Rolling (2016); Give It All Back (Kilroy-cited 2015); Ibsen is Dead (2014); The Peacock (2013, Kilroys honorable mention); The Gacy Play (2012); and Common Hatred (2012). Calamity is a company member of Jackalope Theatre Company and an artistic associate of Sideshow Theatre Company. She teaches playwriting at the University of Chicago and is represented by The Gersh Agency.

About the Director
Hinter marks the eighth show Brad DeFabo Akin has directed at Steep, where he’s been an ensemble member since 2005. Past Steep directing credits: Book of Days, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Insignificance, Greensboro: A Requiem, Under the Blue Sky, strangers, babies, and The Few. Outside of Steep, his Chicago directing credits include: The Orchestra (Akvavit Theatre), Crimes of the Heart (Step Up Productions), Edgar & Annabel (Poor Theatre), The Revenants (WildClaw Theatre), OOHRAH! (LiveWire Theatre), and Where We’re Born (Steppenwolf Garage). Brad served as Steep’s Literary Manager for 11 years, helping to cultivate the company’s relationship with new playwrights, developing relationships with MFA playwriting programs, and supporting the development of three world premieres at Steep – including Calamity West’s Hinter. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Step Up Chicago Playwrights, where he supports the work of local playwrights in telling the story of our city. Brad also has the honor of teaching North Carolina’s best and brightest young minds every summer, as part of their Governor’s School program.

About Steep Theatre
Housed in what was once a small grocery store steps from the Berwyn Red Line stop, and lead by an ensemble of 34 actors, directors, designers, writers, and other theatre artists, Steep is the quintessential storefront theatre. Described by Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune as “a storefront theater known for the power of its acting,” Steep creates powerful productions of plays by today’s most exciting writers and features the work of Chicago’s hottest theatre artists in an intimate, accessible space. Currently in its 17th season, Steep is known as a home for hard-hitting, finely tuned ensemble work. With each production, the company has shepherded a growing community of audiences and artists into bold new territories of story and performance.

Steep Theatre is conveniently located by the Berwyn Red Line stop and is within blocks of the #92, #36, #146, #147, and #151 buses.

Steep Theatre
1115 West Berwyn, Chicago, IL 60640

January 25 – March 3, 2018
Press Opening: Thursday, January 25 at 8:00pm
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8pm
Sunday matinees at 3pm on February 4, 11, 18, and 25
Accessible Performances:
-Audio Description: Sunday, February 18 at 3:00pm
-Open Captioning: Sunday, February 25 at 3:00pm

General Admission Tickets: $27
Reserved Seat Tickets: $38
Access Tickets: $10 (Steeps universal discount for students, artists, whomever)
(773) 649-3186

Twitter: @SteepTheatre
Facebook: SteepTheatre

Kate Piatt-Eckert
Cast photos and bios are available at steeptheatre.com/hinter.

Aurora Adachi-Winter
Alex Gillmor*
Peter Moore*
Jim Poole*
Melissa Riemer*
Lauren Sivak
Sasha Smith
Sigrid Sutter
Nate Whelden
Eunice Woods

Director – Brad DeFabo Akin*
Stage Manager – Lauren Lassus**
Set Designer – Lauren Nigri
Lighting Designer – Pete Dully*
Sound Designer & Composer – Thomas Dixon**
Costume Designer  – Mieka van der Ploeg
Props Designer  – Kathryn Johnson
Violence & Intimacy Choreographer – Sasha Smith
Dramaturg – Neena Arndt
Assistant Director – Almanya Narula
Production Manager – Catherine Allen

**Denotes Steep Artistic Associate
*Denotes Steep Company Member

Playtime with Sid and Bill, Featuring Kerri Kendall

For those who read or have read WC Turck’s Helter Skelter, you can also tune in live every Sunday from 1-3pm at 1590WCGO on Facebook for the Facebook Live Feed, at http://www.1590WCGO.com or on your radio dial anywhere within 90 miles of Chicago, including Rockford, Lake Geneva, Milwaukee, Joliet and Gary, Indiana.

The core mission of Playtime is to help make the case for stronger Arts funding and education in Illinois and the nation by demonstrating and highlighting the unique and profound effects it has on developing brains, which translates to every other aspect of learning and in engaging the world. We feel the best way to do this is to highlight the positive and profound effects the brain has on the developmentally challenged. On today’s program we continue that case in a discussion with EDGE of Orion Theater‘s Orion Couling and a brilliant new play, Steampunk Christmas Carol.

Hope to see you there!


Louis C.K. A Touching Tail

There was a time that I virtually worshipped comedian Louis C.K. Caustic and acerbic as he could be, he seemed to cut straight to the heart of things, deconstructing and finding humor in ways only comics can do. I should also mention here that I have a number of friends who are stand up comics, and I think it bears mentioning that for many comics the stage is a means of therapy.  There is truth that in pain comes creativity and Art, and stand up comedy very definitely is an art form.

On my MP3 player I have a stand up comedy file with better than a dozen different comics and  an untold number of short comedy spots. But Louis C.K. held a special place. He seemed to speak from the middle aged white man’s point of view, speaking on rape, homophobia, sex and marriage, marriage, Cinnabon, airports, getting older and more. Louis C.K. had his own separate file. Then…well, I neither can or will listen to another Louis C.K.  stand up ever again.

Jon Stewart knew, and said nothing. He’s done in my view, as well. People knew that Louis C.K. would act like some sort of animal predator, inviting female comics to his room only to begin masturbating in front of them. Who does that? Well, according to my wife and female friends, far more men than polite society wants to admit. Here is a guy who could and did have everything; money, notoriety, financial security, family, films, access, and who certainly would not have had any trouble meeting women, provided he wasn’t an absolute freak.

I found out about it last week when the news broke widely, though, as I said, apparently lot’s of people knew this was happening. Everyone around Harvey Weinstein knew about his perversion and even violence only to keep quiet as long as they got paid. And all of this moral outrage by an industry that facilitated Weinstein, Spacy, Louis C.K. and others like them is reprehensible in it’s own right. Roy Moore, a prosecutor, was trolling a high school in his 30s, and was banned from a mall for predatory behavior against under age girls! Now that the once mighty Rhino has been stumbled, finally all those long intimidated by his judicial power and bullying behavior has stepped forward. I risked my home and job speaking out against an egregious injustice committed by an airline CEO after September 11, 2001. Stand up, men, or you are just weak!

And please, Louis C.K.,  don’t attempt to explain this away as some sort of sickness. You failed to control yourself when you knew better. The quickness of your public apology confirms that. There is no apology Louis C.K. could offer. Forever what ever he does will be tainted by the specter of what he did to those young and only too trusting women.. How could you, Louis C.K. ? How could you do that to those women, first of all, and how did you ever think that fans would ever get past that in a million years. I’m not sure I would even want to buy a cup of coffee from you.

Angry? Yes, but more heart broken and disappointed more. You had bits that were more than stand up, but were brilliant transcendent observations of the human condition. What you did destroyed all that. It made that brilliance instead plastic and false, and there simply is no redemption except to take your millions and start from this moment striving to redeem yourself, quietly and anonymously, and where no one ever has to be reminded what they believed you were and what you actually turned out to be.

A touching tail? Sure, but not the one I ever wanted to tell.

Some of you may know…

…that I have a radio program in Chicago, the only commercial radio program dedicated to the Arts.  Playtime with Sid and Bill, Featuring Kerri Kendall, airs Sundays from 1-3pm on AM1590 WCGO.

We need your help to remain on the air. Sid Yiddish, Kerri Kendall and I have launch a Patreon subscription page, with fun incentives that will make you part of the show, and even bring you some original Artwork. Plus, if we reach our goal of $600 per month in subscriptions, all of our subscribers enter a raffle to win a collectors Elvis Bourbon decanter-unopened and still in the box, with bourbon now aged since the decanter was sealed in 1974, courtesy of Gus Valkanas and his family.
Your monthly subscription supports the only commercial radio program dedicated to the Arts in Chicagoland. We are the top-rated local program on 1590 WCGO after only 10 weeks on the air, and we are only getting started. If you don’t feel you can subscribe at this moment, please share the link below. Much love…