Friday July 21st 2017

“Collected Stories”

collectedstoriesTry to imagine a relationship between the mentor and her protege; one that should be a beautiful experience for both- the writer , in this particular case who is lending her expertise to the hungry for knowledge student who dreams of publishing her first novel. In Donald Marguilies chilling “Collected Stories” now on the stage of the upstairs theater at Victory Gardens Biograph, the two characters are in fact writers, but in carefully looking at the entire story, it could be almost any career path that could destroy a relationship. Rather than  take that path, I prefer to tell you about this specific career path and these two ladies in this special “must see” story.

This story chronicles a relationship between a celebrated author/professor, Ruth Steiner ( brilliantly portrayed by Carmen Roman) who is willing to work with a young student, Lisa Morrison (another strong performance by the adorable Gwendolyn Whiteside) who has aspirations of becoming a published novelist. During the two act play ( roughly two hours with an intermission) we are witness to the changes in their lives and their relationship over a six year period. During the 6 scenes , we see many changes in the relationship, both personal and professional as the student becomes a writer of note, but finds that her own life experience is not enough to sustain a career and opts to take on the life of her mentor who has secrets that have only been shared between them. When does a “friend” cross the line by betraying a trust, for the glory of the rewards? What is the value of a relationship and just how far can a writer go to tell a story? Even if it is not really theirs? These ar ethe questions that arise during this well acted show.

Directed by  the Mother-Daughter team of Mary Ann and Jessica Thebus on a masterful set designed by  Sarah E. Ross ( looks to be move-in condition) and solid lighting by Sarah Hughey, this is a story that hits home with anyone who has ever spent time training and  teaching another, who might be, in fact, hoping one day to take that trainers job away from him or her. I would think that the mother/daughter concept in directing worked as a strong positive for the two female actors who are both strong character builders. American Blues Theater, one of Chicago’s pioneers just keeps getting stronger- in their play selection, their technical people, directors and actors- How lucky for Chicago that they are here for us! The costumes (Samantha C. Jones and Kristin DeiTos) and the props ( yet, another Sarah- Sarah Burnham, who has assembled a great many find ones) are the icing on the cake along with the sound by Thomas Dixon.

This incredible production will continue at The Biograph Theater ( upstairs)  located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue through May 19th with performances as follows:

Thursdays  8 p.m.

Fridays       8 p.m.                                                                            collectedstories3

Saturdays    8 p.m.

Sundays    2:30 p.m.

Two additional Saturday matinees at 5 p.m. are available on May 11th and May 18th

Tickets range from $10- $49 and can be purchased by stopping by the box office, by phone at 773-871-3000 or visit www.americanbluestheater.com

Use the code word “BOOK” and receive a $10 discount

After each Sunday performance, post show discussions are offered where audience members can learn more from the cast, director, Dr. Mark Bilkey ( perspectives on retirement,Gender and Age)

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click at “Collected Stories”

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