Tag Archives: Chicago

Here’s the First Look at the New Feature “Path of Egress”

pathofegressby Legendary Lew

Trance Productions presents a new locally-made Chicago crime thriller from director Vincent Baran. Path of Egress features a large cast and, having seen some working clips of the film, looks very sharp indeed. (Full disclosure: I appear in the film briefly and am friends with leads Tyler Pistorius and Paskal Pawlicki).

From the youtube site:
A story about three close friends; Ray, a mover for a mob boss named Bub, Udjenzo, one of Bub’s best hitmen, and Leigh, Ray’s childhood friend who attempts to prove himself by providing information about the perfect heist, so perfect, that it convinces Ray to bring it to his boss. Bub, a man who never gets his hands dirty, decides to oversee the job himself. Consequently, Ray is pulled in by the FBI who make him question his friendship with Leigh.

Keep on the lookout for its appearance in film festivals this year. We will keep you updated.

 

Chicago Cubs End the Punchlines and Change Comedy

cubsby Legendary Lew

The curse was broken last night. The Chicago Cubs won its first World Series since 1908.

What the ’16 Cubs did also is forever break the age old tradition of portraying the team as perennial losers. To me, this was the most notable effect of the win. Comedy writers can no longer lazily rely on a Cubs joke to portray losers nor to portray a Cubs World Series win as an Earth-shattering future event.

Indiewire reminds us of the numerous Cubs references in TV and film.

However, I give my salute to the Cubs by showing what could arguably be their lowest point. 1983 Cubs manager Lee Elia went on a profane tear after a brutal loss to the Dodgers in a game. AP reporter Les Grobstein was the only reporter with a recorder on when Elia went off.

The infamous rant became one of the most noted in sports history, inspiring a producer (rumored to be Mike Bisbee) to come up with a great Cubs promo parody (NSFW):

Elia’s rant was the first thing I thought about when the Cubs won last night. Here was a guy defending a team at the lowest point, when he felt the city was not even supporting them. He even noted that two of his players were being harassed after the loss. Sure, he did insult fans, but under the pressure, could you blame him?

He was later fired, but I salute the guy who stood by his team even when they were the perennial losers, the joke of the sports world.

I hope Lee Elia’s enjoying the win and that he gets the credit he deserves for standing by his team.

Legendary Lew is the co-founder of The Underground Multiplex and host of the podcast “Mediatrocities.” You can support the current Go Fund Me campaign for updated equipment at: www.gofundme.com/HelpTUGM

Mediatrocities #24: Director Andrew Friend on His New Documentary “Schoolidarity”

schoolidarity-poster-4webby Legendary Lew

Over the last few years, teachers unions in Madison, WI and Chicago, IL have been under attack from political forces with a privatization drive. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker fought for a right-to-work law, which union claim would undermine the power of collective bargaining guaranteed by law. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel showed a consistent disdain for the Chicago Teachers Union from the moment he took office.

Documentary filmmaker Andrew Friend, an unapologetic supporter of teacher unions, created a new documentary recounting the struggles in Madison and Chicago over the last few years.

The film Schoolidarity is a reminder of what can be accomplished with collective action and what it means to be in a struggle for the long haul.

I interviewed Andrew via Skype for the latest installment of Mediatrocities. Give a listen and please comment and/or share with others!

Profiles Theatre Brings the Curtain Down Permanently

~ by Ty Pi and Legendary Lew

Closed

Yesterday morning, we had published an article focusing on a group of activists in the Chicago theatre community taking action against Profiles Theatre, where decades of abuse had allegedly taken place. Later in the evening, the Chicago Tribune reported that Profiles is closing down, effective immediately.

Don’t underestimate the importance of this development. The closure–a result of pressure exerted through social media and direct action–has the beginnings of a movement.

As of today, Bill Cosby’s criminal case is ongoing. Abuse in Hollywood is ongoing. Abuse in the music industry is ongoing. God forbid, there are other theatre houses engaging in abuse and sexual assault in Chicago or anywhere else.

The Chicago theatre community, along with organizations such as Not In Our House, said to Profiles, “enough is enough.” The activists featured in the video below show that anyone can make an effective peaceful demonstration with a strong message. Profiles had to either drop Darrell W. Cox and Joe Jahraus or shut its doors.

And so, Profiles has decided to shut its doors. We support this decision.

However, the struggle does not end there. The fight for positive changes in the entertainment world continues. Physical abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation have no place in creating art that examines the human condition.

Art Activists Fight to End the Abuses at Profiles Theatre

~ by Ty Pi

13417694_10104404286496413_961591556992214150_n

Profiles Theatre Windows of Shame (Photo taken by an anonymous tenant.)

On Thursday, June 9th, 2016, an explosive and lengthy article was released in The Chicago Reader. Written by Aimee Levitt and Christopher Piatt, the report details the abuses taking place at the famed Profiles Theatre. The alleged abuser is actor/artistic director Darrell W. Cox, with co-founder/artistic director Joe Jahraus allegedly complicit to these abuses.

The story has since been picked up by Jezebel, Playbill, The New York Times, and The Chicago Sun-Times.

The day the story went into print, a group of art activists, led by Emma Couling and Gaby Labotka, took action in front of Profiles Theatre, handing out copies of the damning article. Later that stormy night, Legendary Lew and I got to witness them put up multiple Chicago Reader front page covers and the full article on the windows of Profiles Theatre.

13407033_10101565986118547_3973354806760835049_n

Art activists in front of Profiles Theatre. “Whatever the Truth Requires” is the Profiles’ mission statement. (Photo taken by a supporter.)

In the video featured below, you’ll hear Couling, Labotka, and Anna Rose li-Epstein state why they were demonstrating.

You can also visit the activist site, Not In Our House, where their mission statement reads, “Join us as we lead a cultural shift to strengthen our collective experience by working together to protect and develop our artists, our theatres, and our Chicago Theatre Community.” The activists featured in the video are not affiliated with Not In Our House, but are acting independently.

 

 

Mediatrocities Podcast #22: Ben Hicks of Fandependent Films and the State of Indie Films Today

fandependentby Legendary Lew

Ben Hicks, co-founder of Fandependent Films, joins me in the latest podcast to talk about his site, the state of independent films and whether it’s possible to have cottage industries of film.

Check out Fandependent Films, where you can watch a brand new movie every day and become a fan of your favorite ones. Becoming a fan supports the site and the filmmakers.

Listen to the podcast:

BenHicks

Ben Hicks (l) of Fandenpendent Films with Legendary Lew

CLOSING NIGHT: “Incendium” by Chicago Slam Works

Incendium_Goldstar

~ by Ty Pi

March 4th, 2016 was the closing night of the world premiere of the Chicago Slam Works production of Incendium.  I had a chance to see their previous show, Handsome Animals, which explored the social construction of body image and gender.  The production was directed by J.W. Basillo and the writing team was led by Teagan Walsh-Davis.  I enjoyed that production quite a bit and eagerly awaited the chance to see their followup production, Incendium.  I attended on their closing night and I was not disappointed.

The structure of the two Chicago Slam Works productions mentioned here are rooted in poetry.  Handsome Animals delivered its content through a series of poems and short scenes.  Basillo once again helms Incendium (written by the performers), which presents itself more like a cabaret set on a black box stage at Stage 773.  The show comes equipped with not just poetry, but also songs, juggling, acrobatics, a burlesque number, and the occasional breaking of the fourth wall, going as far as to have the audience directly involved.  It goes against the norms of theatre and is performed with a great sense of fun.  Within this abstract circus lies one central theme: Death.  The concept of death is explored throughout most of the play, if not all of it.

For this theatre patron, their presentation of that theme is what not only made this ride worthwhile, but also necessary.  The production makes a heavy emphasis on how life is temporary, memories fade, life can be miserable, and death is inevitable.  Although these points are repeated, it works because these are all too true.  These theme are supported by the show’s examinations of time, individual identity, one’s sense of purpose in the world, and even the feeling of boredom.  The more I think about it, Incendium does not just make death a theme, but also more of a statement.  In a person’s lifetime, one will experience hardships, feelings of boredom, contemplate their sense of purpose in the world, memories of their life will fade, and until someone discovers the cure for mortality, death is inevitable.  Life is a temporary experience and we only get to do it once.

I am reminded of a quote from Orson Welles in his documentary, F for Fake.  “Our songs will all be silenced.  But what of it?  Go on singing!  Maybe a man’s name doesn’t matter all that much.”  Although such themes can be seen as too downbeat or morose, the show has a sense of fun about it, and at times becomes self-deprecating.  The play explores that when one of the performers named Noob (Joseph Ramski) tries to bring optimism into the situation, only to be crushed by everyone in a fashion that can be described as humorous cynicism.  My takeaway from that is that it’s easy to be cynical about life and death, but it does not change anything.  Instead of remaining pessimistic about it all, I felt the play encouraged me to become more optimistic and happy that I even get to experience life at all.

I extend my congratulations to the Chicago Slam Works cast and crew for their efforts to bring Incendium to life.  Although the run of the show has ended, their next production will premiere at Stage 773 on May 6th, 2016.  It is called This Great Nation, Much Enduring.  I was informed that this production will be about America.  Already, I am looking forward to seeing it, and I encourage you to head to their website to learn more about the poetry-forward company.