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Closet Play virtual benefit concert leads PrideArts virtual season
--From a press release
2020-09-02

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CHICAGO - PrideArts Artistic Director Donterrio Johnson today announced a four - show virtual fall season called REIGNITE! that will look to the 17th and 19th Centuries for inspiration. The season will open with a benefit concert conceived by Johnson that will intertwine original jazz compositions with poetry by James Baldwin and Tennessee Williams. The concert will stream live from the Pride Arts Center's Buena Theatre on Sept. 30 ( no-in-person audience ).

Johnson says, "Taking over as Artistic Director of Pride Films and Plays, now called PrideArts, it is particularly important that the content I provide to our audience is poignant, palpable and immediate. This season is called Reignite! Not only are we looking to reignite the spark of this company but reignite our art form and its history. Right now, in our country we are in the middle of huge conversations about race, gender and politics. Also looming over our heads is the weight of a global pandemic that has altered all our lives. If we were to step backwards to the 19th Century these same talking points were very relevant then. We saw the rise of Vaudeville - an art form that brought cis-white male performers to the forefront. These performers would often dabble in drag performance and blackface but would never allow the people who actually lived those lives onto their stages. My idea this season is: What if we rewrote this history? What if we re-appropriated the Vaudeville Era and brought blackness and queerness to the forefront? What would it look like? How would it feel? Would Vaudeville still be around today? It is my mission to breathe new life into these shows and allow them to speak to audiences of today."

Entitled CLOSET PLAY, the concert will be a modern spin on the art form of the Closet Drama — plays written to be read, rather than staged. The series will continue with three loosely staged short comedies of the 19th Century — the hilarious comedies BOX AND COX by John Maddison Morton, A PAIR OF LUNATICS by W.R. Walkes, and THE PROPOSAL by Anton Chekov. These three comedies will be recorded live in the Buena Theatre, with no audience present, crew masked at all times, and actors masked when rehearsing or not performing in front of the camera.

CLOSET PLAY, on Sept. 30, will intertwine original jazz compositions with poetry by two of America's most prolific queer voices — James Baldwin and Tennessee Williams — with an original jazz score. CLOSET PLAY's cast will include Trenton Baker, Jos N. Banks, Christian Bufford, Robbin DaSilva, Ryan Lanning, Kimberly Lawson, David Robbins, Lorenzo Rush Jr., Tiffany T. Taylor, Koray Tarhan, Will Wilhelm, Jasmine Lacy Young, Joey Stone, and Ricki J Pettinato. CLOSET PLAY will be streamed live on Sept. 30, 2020, broadcasting from the Pride Arts Center's Buena Theatre at 7 p.m. on Facebook and YouTube; and available to stream thereafter. Links will be posted on the PrideArts Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/pridefilmsandplays ) and website ( www.pridearts.org ). There is no charge to view CLOSET PLAY, but donations will be gladly accepted.

The fall Virtual Season will continue with John Maddison Morton's BOX AND COX, a three- character one-act farce that premiered in London in 1847. BOX AND COX will be streamed twice only — on Thursdays, Oct. 22 and 29; at 7 p.m. each evening.

Following BOX AND COX will be the two-character one-act comedy A PAIR OF LUNATICS, by W.R. Walkes. In A PAIR OF LUNATICS, which premiered in London in 1898, He and She meet for the first time in an asylum and each mistakes the other for an inmate. A PAIR OF LUNATICS will be streamed twice only - on Thursdays, Nov. 19, and Dec. 3; at 7 p.m. each evening.

The final play of the virtual fall season will be Anton Chekov's THE PROPOSAL, to be streamed twice only - on Thursday, Dec. 17 and Wednesday, Dec. 30; at 7 p.m. each evening. In this one-act Chekov comedy, Ivan, an hypochondriac, has a proposal for Natalya the neighbor. That is, if they can ever agree on anything.

Casts of the final three plays will be announced later. Costs to view are $25. for each of the three plays and tickets will be available at www.pridearts.org .

COMPANY NAME CHANGE

Johnson also made formal a name change for the company from Pride Films and Plays to the shorter and catchier PrideArts, a moniker that has been used in the company's promotional materials since late 2019. Johnson explained, "PrideArts is a company that takes pride in the arts and in its artists." The company also unveiled its new logo for the company today as well.

CLOSET PLAY: A BENEFIT CONCERT

Conceived and directed by Donterrio Johnson

Streamed live on Facebook and YouTube Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020; 7.pm.

Available online for an open-end run thereafter.

Link and more info at www. pridearts.org .

No charge. Donations gladly accepted.

With the plague of the 17th century brewing and a government ban that closed theatrical spaces, a new art form was found: Closet Drama - plays intended to be read, not to be performed. PrideArts is excited to bring you a modern spin on this art form, streamed live from the Buena Theater. CLOSET PLAY is an in-depth look into the poetry of two of America's most prolific queer voices - JAMES BALDWIN and TENNESSEE WILLIAMS - intertwined with original jazz music. Featuring a cast of some of Chicago's most treasured artists. This event was conceived and will be directed by PrideArts Artistic Director Donterrio Johnson.

BOX AND COX

By John Maddison Morton Directed by Donterrio Johnson

Streamed on YouTube Thursdays, October 22 and 29; 7 p.m.

Ticketing and more info at www.pridearts.org .

Tickets $25.00

A three-character one-act farce that premiered in London in 1847. BOX AND COX is a hilarious romance of real life in one act.

A PAIR OF LUNATICS

By W.R. Walkes

Directed by Donterrio Johnson

Streamed on YouTube Thursdays, November 19, and December 3; 7 p.m.

Ticketing and more info at www.pridearts.org .

Tickets $25.00

A one-act comedy that premiered in London in 1898, He and She meet for the first time in an asylum and each mistakes the other for an inmate.

THE PROPOSAL

By Anton Chekov

Directed by Donterrio Johnson

Streamed on YouTube Thursday, December 17 and Wednesday, December 30; 7 p.m.

Ticketing and more info at www. pridearts.org .

Tickets $25.00

Ivan, an hypochondriac, has a proposal for Natalya the neighbor. That is, if they can ever agree on anything.

ABOUT PRIDEARTS

PrideArts is working to produce year-round theater and film projects that change lives in normal ( non-COVID ) times, the company produces a season of full play and musical productions, as well as events including dance, cabaret, film, and more. It was recently honored with seven Jeff award nominations for the 2019-20 season. Events can be one-night or limited run productions or feature national treasures like Charles Busch. PAC occupies The Broadway at 4139 N. Broadway, which has 85 seats, and The Buena, which has 50 seats at 4147 N Broadway.

PrideArts is supported by The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at The Richard Driehaus Foundation, The Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago's City Arts Fund, the Elliott Fredland Charitable Trust, Proud to Run, The Pauls Foundation, The Heath Fund, The Service Club of Chicago, the AmazonSmile Foundation, Arts and Business Foundation, Tap Root Foundation, Arts and Business Council, and Alphawood Foundation.

PrideArts is a member of the Smart Growth Program of the Chicago Community Trust. PrideArts is a member of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois, Northalsted Business Association, Uptown United, and The League of Chicago Theatres.

For more information and to donate, visit www.pridearts.org or call -773-857-0222.


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