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 2018-11-14
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



THEATER REVIEW Haymarket: The Anarchist's Songbook
by Jonathan Abarbanel, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Alex Higgin-Houser ( book, lyrics ), David Kornfeld ( music ). At: Underscore Theatre Company at The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway. Tickets: 312-646-0975;; $20-$25. Runs through: June 12

On May 4, 1886, a bomb went off during a labor rally near Randolph and Des Plaines streets in what is now the West Loop.

The bomber never was identified, but six men—none present when the bomb was thrown—were convicted of conspiracy. One committed suicide in jail, five were hung, one spent 15 years in prison. They fought for unionization, an eight-hour day, an end to child labor and social justice. Some believed in peaceful means, but it's a fact that many early labor leaders were anarchists, socialists and bomb radicals who advocated armed struggle. Conservative political opinion of the day didn't separate the factions. The dominant capitalist class was anti-union, anti-radical and anti-immigrant, and five of the six convicted labor leaders were German immigrants.

Haymarket: The Anarchist's Songbook, is the second world premiere I've reviewed this month honoring the 130th anniversary of the Haymarket Riot and its labor martyrs. This one is more compact and more compelling in part because it's a musical, and a smart musical at that using a double dramatic arc to convey its story. First, it dramatizes the conflict of philosophies between the half-dozen men eventually convicted. Then, it personalizes the story of the principal unionist, Albert Parsons, an American-born Civil War veteran who married an African-American woman, Lucy. The political and personal stories reinforce each other, although Albert and Lucy Parsons make a powerful story by themselves.

All nine actors in the show double on musical instruments in grand style: numerous strummed or bowed string instruments plus piano, accordion, tambourine, trumpet, even spoons. They're all 19th-century folkloric instruments that suit composer David Kornfeld's lilting tunes which range from labor anthems to waltzes to ballads. Alex Higgin-Houser's lyrics always are intelligent and become increasingly pointed in Act II, in which the men are tried and hung despite international appeals for clemency. This particularly sharp quatrain caught my attention and is typical of the show's quality: "Blame is a fire with suspicion at the center; Do you blame the fire or the fire's inventor? Blame is a fire, don't fan the flame; Innocent or guilty both burn the same."

Elizabeth Margolius directed and created the musical staging ( not billed as choreography ). The physical work is smooth and skillful on Kurtis Boetcher's warm, wood multilevel unit set, suggesting a cluttered 19th-century warehouse containing a city's detritus, including miniature houses and buildings. Above all, Haymarket: The Anarchist's Songbook features gorgeous lighting unusual for an intimate off-Loop theater. On a cozy proscenium arch stage, lighting designer Erik Barry mixes overlapping areas of white, yellow, blue and red given great depth by perfect back lighting, the use of which too often is forgotten.

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

Chicago Dramatists has leadership changes 2018-11-14 - Chicago Dramatists announced it has accepted the resignation of Executive Director Vanessa Bamber. Bamber will continue in her position until Dec. 31, according ...

Gay News

Sophia Petrillo Italian Dinner and Talent Show to benefit Hell in a Handbag 2018-11-14 - CHICAGO ( November 13, 2018 ) — Join Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia for Hell in a Handbag Productions' annual benefit, The Sophia ...

Gay News

GUEST COLUMN Battling Trump via art, an actor's superpower 2018-11-14 - Let's acknowledge one thing, after two years of misery: Our president is not stupid. He is not an idiot or moron. In ...

Gay News

YEPP's 'Rise Up' taking place Nov. 14 2018-11-14 - In recognition of the Transgender Day of Remembrance/Resilience and Youth Homelessness Awareness Month, Youth Empowerment Performance Project ( YEPP ) will host "Rise ...

Gay News

Ike Holter: The 'Right(lynd)' stuff 2018-11-14 - Last week's midterm elections taught us that political engagement is more crucial than ever. This makes Ike Holter's Rightlynd—opening this week at ...

Gay News

'Santuario' readings Nov. 16-18 at Piven 2018-11-13 - Evanston's Piven Theatre Workshop, 927 Noyes St., will present a staged reading of Santuario/Sanctuary on Nov. 16-18. Santuario/Sanctuary is a bilingual documentary theater ...

Gay News

Intersectional team creates change in 'The Revolutionists 2018-11-13 - The Revolutionists, opening at Strawdog Theatre in mid-November, may center on the concerns of 18th-century women during the Reign of Terror, but Lauren ...

Gay News

'TransScripts' brings lives of transgender women into the light 2018-11-13 - In the shadow of President Trump's alleged memo that seeks to define them out of existence by declaring that gender is immutable from ...

Gay News

This Bitter Earth 2018-11-13 - Author: Harrison David Rivers At: Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets:; $20-$38. Runs through: Dec. 8 In bringing This ...

Gay News

Cosmologies 2018-11-13 - By: David Rabe At: The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets:; $35-$50. Runs through: Dec. 9 Cosmologies, now in ...


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.