Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-04-18
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



NUNN ON ONE: THEATER Breon Arzell is a 'Travel'-ing man
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Actor Breon Arzell presents Pegasus Theatre's Rutherford's Travels playing the title character, Rutherford Calhoun. It is the tale of Rutherford Calhoun, a newly freed slave who travels to New Orleans and winds up on a slave ship headed to Africa.

After moving to Chicago three years ago from Detroit, Arzell has appeared at as Steppenwolf, Bailiwick and Raven theaters.

The busy man sat down to discuss Rutherford's Travels before running to choreograph Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes for The Hypocrites Theatre.

Windy City Times: How long have you practiced on Rutherford's Travels?

Breon Arzell: A month and a half, if that.

WCT: Is the language tough?

BA: Yes, and also the dialect. I think the most difficult thing is the perspective, the switching back and forth from storytelling…

WCT: Some of the actors have multiple characters to portray so luckily you just have your one main character. Tell our readers about this character.

BA: Rutherford is like a male Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz when I first started reading it. He is wanting something better where the grass is greener. He wants adventure but everything was right in front of him. He had to go through all of the woes to really see it.

He thought he was so slick and so suave in the beginning. He thought he knew how to run the world. His world was a bubble but then he went outside of it. The realization of his lack of history and ancestry made him wake up. He was a rascal that learns through life's lessons really quick reality. He takes in life and allows it to change him.

WCT: So a good lesson for everyone?

BA: Exactly. What you think life is is not necessarily it!

WCT: Can you describe the plot of Rutherford's Travels?

BA: The whole story starts because of a traumatic event with him losing his father. Since he thinks his father ran away to pursue adventure he thinks it's his destiny to do the same.

In the beginning he thinks his father is out living the best life in the world. Rutherford decides to do that, too.

Although he is older it is a coming of age story. He has the mind of a teenager. He lives in the moment instead of planning for the future.

It is really a show and story about discovery. It is about learning about yourself in larger than life experiences. At heart it is a seafaring tale. It is mixture of Moby Dick, Treasure Island, and Amistad. It is a weird mix. You want to root for him but he is trying to figure out his place and there are slaves involved. Although he was enslaved he was never really treated as a slave. He never lived like a slave.

All the life he thought he had control over he actually didn't, but he had it a lot better than he thought he did. It is about those life lessons and figuring out your place in the world.

WCT: What can audiences get from this period piece?

BA: It is still the same old thing. Even though it is set in a different time period we can all identify with wanting something else. Someone might have a plan in their head for their life but the universe actually has a different plan. You have to be open for change.

In the beginning he thought he would into women, gambling, and running the streets all of his life because that is what he had fun doing. When he met other people and saw what life really was like he went to seek adventure in places he could grow.

Especially for modern audiences and for Black Americans, finding truth in your history, ancestry, and traditions is important. So many people don't tap into that. Sometimes they think being Black and American that they don't have anything to do with Africa, but there is knowledge and strength in knowing where you come from.

One of the most beautiful things I find in the show is when it turns for Rutherford. The reason he is ripping and running is because he has nothing to cling to. There is nothing solid to lay claim to. When he finds that relationship it is something for him to tap into. People today need something to tap into. I think that grounds people a lot more.

People see the god in the show as a horrible demon, but it is very internal. That god was put there for him to learn the lesson of tapping into who he is. He already had it. He just needs to embrace it. Everyone is scared of the god but for him it's a moment of clarity opposed to fear.

WCT: How was working with this theater troupe?

BA: It was great, collaborative and playful. You never want someone fighting your choices!

WCT: Can you speak on being an out actor?

BA: Even though I am out, I always play straight guys. It hasn't really affected me in a way. I want to play a gay character but I never do. Well, one time I did with All Our Tragic with The Hypocrites Theatre. My character Achilles was gay but it one aspect of the character and not a big deal. There was a beautiful moment between him and his lover, but that was it.

One thing about me is I want to be an actor first. I don't want to be gay, or Black. I just want to be an actor. Let me play. That is what I do and my job. Those aren't the only roles I can play.

I hate when I only get called in for Black roles. If it is not in the script then anyone can play it.

I have never really seen it as an identifier as me as an actor, but it is nothing I am ashamed of.

For me, it is natural and no big whoop.

WCT: Are you excited about being in The Wiz for Kokandy Productions next year?

BA: It is very exciting. I am choreographing it and in it as well. It is one of my dream shows to choreograph.

WCT: What role are you playing?

BA: I am part of the ensemble. I can't steal the show! I am understudying the Cowardly Lion. I do go on one weekend because the actor who plays him is going into tech for another show.

I was also just cast at the Goodman Theatre for Objects in the Mirror. It will be my Goodman debut. I will be on the main stage and working with Chuck Smith. I will believe it once we get into rehearsals!

Rutherford's Travels plays Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., now through Dec. 4. Tickets and more information can be found at .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Late Nite Catechism celebrates 25 years in Chicago 2018-04-20 - A Chicago original and international hit, Late Nite Catechism turns 25 in the city where it all started. A special anniversary ...

Gay News

Season of Concern hosts 'Cabaret for Care' 2018-04-18 - Season of Concern's 2018 annual benefit titled Cabaret for Care came to the Goodman Theatre on April 9. The evening had donors enjoying ...

Gay News

DANCE PROFILE Getting to know Lucky Plush dancer Aaron-Raheim White 2018-04-18 - How does one go from being a quiet young boy with an unstable home to being a successful Reiki master-teacher and MFA in ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Our Great Tchaikovsky 2018-04-18 - Playwright/Performer: Hershey Felder; Music: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky At: Steppenwolf Theatre Upstairs, 1650 N. Halsted St. Tickets: 312-335-1650 or; $55. Runs through: May ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW 33 to Nothing 2018-04-18 - Playwright/Composer: Grant James Varjas At: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. Tickets: 312-943-8722;; $30-$35. Runs through: May 27 ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Ghosts of War 2018-04-18 - Playwright: adapted by William Massolia, from the novel by Ryan Smithson. At: Griffin Theatre Company at The Den, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. ...

Gay News

Critics' Picks 2018-04-18 - The Gentleman Caller, Raven Theatre, extended through May 27. You can see this play because it's so literary or because it's so gol-durn ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Lettie 2018-04-18 - Playwright: Boo Killebrew At: Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: 773-871-3000;; $15-$56. Runs through: May 6 Sometimes a ...

Gay News

THEATER SPOTLIGHT Midsummer Night's Dream 2018-04-18 - When the Joffrey Ballet takes on Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman's Midsummer Night's Dream, the performance will be a world away from Shakespeare's original. ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW 9 to 5 The Musical 2018-04-18 - Music and lyrics: Dolly Parton Book: Patricia Resnick. At: Firebrand Theatre at the Den Theatre, 1329 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets: $20-$45; Runs ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.