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 2017-07-19
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Principal Principle
by Jonathan Abarbanel, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Joe Zarrow. At: Stage Left & Theatre Seven of Chicago, at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets: 773-975-8150;; $18-$27. Runs through: May 18

My high school had neither detention nor daily PA announcements but they are a reality of Chicago Public Schools ( CPS ), according to Principal Principle. Actually, detention barely is mentioned and the constant announcements provide comic relief, but both suggest Big Brother may be watching. Against the endemic and well-publicized problems of CPS, a small play such as this may be little more than a pebble in a gravel pit, but author Joe Zarrow keeps it interesting nonetheless and highly amusing even if the laughter sometimes has a bitter tinge.

It's "us vs. them" in fictional Chinua Achebe Academy High School, with "us" being the teachers and "them" being the principal, Ms. Banerjee ( Arya Daire ). She's a technocrat who embraces standardized testing and curriculum, and places no value on interpersonal teaching skills, mentoring or classroom creativity. The teachers, however, reject the idea that one size fits all for their classrooms and students.

The four teachers ( and the principal ) are types rather than fully fleshed-out individuals because Zarrow's play is situation-driven rather than character-driven. You learn little about the teachers beyond the CPS walls and nothing at all about the principal. Ms. Cory ( Barbara Roeder Harris ) is about to retire and world-weary, Ms. Josephs ( Cassy Sanders ) is brand-new and idealistic, Ms. Woods and Ms. Lawrence ( McKenzie Chinn, Elana Elyce ) are somewhere in-between. The story hinges on Ms. Woods' scheme to circumvent the standardized test, the inclusion of "Huckleberry Finn" in the required curriculum, and the principal's soft-spoken but intense efforts to enlist teachers as spies against each other.

Ms. Banerjee is cold rather than villainous, but Zarrow clearly sympathizes with the teachers. He casually drops facts of life about being a CPS teacher: broken copy machines, personal money spent for supplies, burdensome reports to file, required telephone calls to the parents/guardians of absent students, etc. How do you fix a broken system? Zarrow has no answers and wisely limits his focus to the teachers themselves rather than broader issues such as Rahm vs. the teachers' union, school closings and schools in turn-around ( although this is mentioned ). One almost wishes the play took on more.

The tight little ensemble shines under director Scott Bishop. Harris' comic timing and throw-away delivery spice up Ms. Cory while Sanders' eager energy underscores Ms. Josephs' fervor. Elana Elyce is rock-solid as the teacher who observes rather than comments, while McKenzie Chinn delivers the most varied performance as the warm but cagey Ms. Wood trying to play both sides. As Principal Banerjee, a semi-comic role, Arya Daire avoids nastiness as she drily projects uncomprehending authority. Joe Schermoly's cluttered setting of the shared teachers' office looks just like the adjuncts' office I share at UIC, only better! It's spot-on.

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

THEATER REVIEW Beauty's Daughter 2017-07-19 - Playwright: Dael Orlandersmith. At: American Blues Theater at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets: $19-$49. Runs through: Aug. 5 The only ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The God of Isaac 2017-07-19 - Playwright: James Sherman. At: Grippo Stage Company at Piven Theatre at Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., Evanston. Tickets: 800-838-3006 or; ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Something Rotten! 2017-07-19 - Playwright: Karey Kirkpatrick & John O'Farrell ( book ), Wayne & Karey Kirkpatrick ( music, lyrics ). At: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph ...

Gay News

Critics' Picks 2017-07-19 - The Bridges of Madison County, Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire, through Aug. 13. Hopefully, the recent flooding in Lake County will recede soon to safely ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Hir 2017-07-19 - Playwright: Taylor Mac. At: Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. Tickets: $20-$89. Runs through: Aug. 20 The phenomenon of "paradigm shift" occurs when ...

Gay News

THEATER SPOTLIGHT on La Havana Madrid 2017-07-19 - If you missed the first two sold-out runs of Teatro Vista's La Havana Madrid, now's your chance to see this critically acclaimed play ...

Gay News

PERFORMANCE Sandra Bernhard talks comedy, sexuality, career 2017-07-19 - As part of her tour, Sandra Bernhard will be coming to Chicago to perform her latest comedy show, "Sandra Monica Blvd: Coast to ...

Gay News

Milly's Orchid Show '29 Years and Holdin'' July 29 2017-07-19 - Milly's Orchid Show celebrates its "29 Years and Holdin'" anniversary show at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., on Saturday, July 29, ...

Gay News

Humanities fest's chair steps down 2017-07-19 - The Chicago Humanities Festival's Marilynn Thoma Artistic Director Jonathan Elmer has stepped down from his position as artistic director of the Chicago Humanities ...

Gay News

Jane: Abortion and Underground reading July 24 2017-07-18 - "Jane: Abortion and Underground" will be presented as a reading Monday, July 24, 7:30 pm at the Pride Arts Center, Broadway Theater, 4139 ...


Copyright © 2017 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.