Brian Hieggelke

International Voices Project

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In my December retrospective about the amazing decade Chicago theater had just completed, I lamented the relative paucity of an international component to Chicago’s theater offerings. No sooner had I written such than I was asked to MC one of the events in the inaugural outing of the International Voices Project. I’ll be doing so tonight, when Trap Door’s Max Truax directs a staged reading of a French play, written by the Romanian Matei Visniec, WHAT SHALL WE DO WITH THE CELLO? It’s a fun one-act, with some nice existential elements that should make for a lively conversation. And it’s free. Come out and support this great new project, and get your catcalls in at the discussion host while your at it. Here’s the flyer copy: Read the rest of this entry »

The Tony Fitzpatrick Train

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Jan and I went to the opening of Tony Fitzpatrick’s one-man show, “This Train,” last night at the 16th Street Theater  in Berwyn. Tony’s an old friend—we’ve had various personal and professional interactions dating back more than twenty years—so I knew I could not review the show, obviously. And watching the show, I realized why you really could never do so: everything was so familiar, from his autobiographical details to his manner of story telling to his interactions with his “co-worker” on stage. We loved the show, but we love the guy, and there was no way to discern any critical distance.

That being said, Tony is a natural-born story teller. Most famous as a visual artist, he’s published and performed poems, acted on stage and in movies, and even committed a few acts of journalism here and there. But he’s no MFA-toting persona; he’s a street smart raconteur, a natural in every sense of the word. His style and substance harken back to the likes of Studs Terkel, his hero, as does his Everyman subject matter. In his show, he waxes poetic not only in his poetry, but also in his stories, especially in one that recounts his grandmother and why she “wasted food” on birds. Birds have long been a recurring motif in Tony’s artwork, and for those of us who know that, this story explains the source of his obsession. Read the rest of this entry »

Too Busy Writing to be Writing

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121709I may be the world’s worst blogger, with a two-month gap between posts. I’d promise to rectify that in 2010, but that would be too much like a resolution and those things never work out. So let’s just see how we’re doing at the end of January.

In any case, I’ve done a ton of writing for publication since my last post, so here’s a round-up to get caught up.

Lit: I did a short review/preview of Jay Ryan’s new book of poster art here, and a long Q&A with John Freeman about his book, “The Tyranny of E-Mail.” John’s most famous around these parts nowadays as the editor of Granta and the creator of their Chicago issue, but before that, John covered the books beat (from New York) for Newcity for several years. John’s book provokes thought about a tool that has profoundly changed my life, for better or for worse. One permanent habit change, suggested in John’s book: I changed my email to check for new mail every hour, instead of every five minutes. The result has been strange: I now have these long strings of minutes, even tens of minutes, where I can concentrate on one thing at a time. Concentrated effort is so old-school. Read the rest of this entry »

All About Mia

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I just posted a review of Mia McCullough’s new play, “Lucinda’s Bed,” over on NewcityStage. McCullough’s a Chicago playwright to keep an eye on. I profiled her a couple years back on the occasion of a production of an earlier work.