Teesee’s Town

NABJ to discuss violence in Chicago communities at monthly panel

As the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists says Chicago is fast becoming the murder capital of the nation; as our children are being killed as they leave schoolyards; as young people are unintended victims as they sit in their homes watching TV; as drive-by shootings are claiming innocent residents, young and old, the organization presents a soul-searching discussion, Death and the Deadline: Are Media Images of Violence Hurting Troubled Chicago Communities?, at its May 2010 Forum and Annual Meeting Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m., at Red Kiva, 1108 W. Randolph.

     Moderator: Dorothy Tucker of CBS 2; panelists: Diane Latiker. Kids Off the Block founder; Carl West, TRUTH magazine founder and community activist; Dr. Carl Bell, president and CEO of the Community Mental Health Council; Hassahn Phenomenon, rapper; and teens affected by the violence in their communities. Local community organizers will be there to sign up volunteers for their programs. Details: 5:30 p.m., networking and light refreshments; 6 p.m., annual executive board activity and financial reports; 6:30 p.m., panel discussion. Free for NABJ members; $5 for the rest of y’all!      Open Book Gala – Craig Gilmore, director, multi-cultural markets, State Farm Insurance; Emily Barr, general manager, ABC7 News Sharon Draper, author, educator and poet; and Dr. Vinni M. Hall, secretary, Ill. State Board of Education, receive coveted honors, and a special premiere of the TV pilot, The Mystery Squad, highlights this Wednesday’s Ninth Annual Open Book Lightbearer Benefit Gala at the Gene Siskel Film Center. The fundraising event for Marrice Coverson’s Institute for Positive Living, emceed by ABC7’s Hosea Sanders, kicks off with a 5 p.m. champagne reception.      According to Coverson, IPL’s president, the TV pilot was produced by the Open Book Program. “Thanks to funding from the Illinois State Board of Education and state Senator Mattie Hunter, we will be first to see the pilot of the TV series designed to bring books alive for children and their families.” The show was conceived by Rick Williams, IPL board member, and developed by Ivette Gonzalez, IPL board member, and Bennett Grossman, of Product Productions/Space Stage Studios. The multi-ethnic cast was chosen from a group of 50 talented kids. In each episode, the team of intrepid kids meet in an old library filled with magic and wonder. “The Squad” picks out a book they are interested in and tries to find its true meaning with the help of their very own library “elf,” fantastical gadgets they invent themselves, and even by contacting the book’s real author.   For $75 benefit tickets, call (773) 924-9802 or log on www.openbookprogram.org.     Breakfast Bonus – Dr. Mildred Clopton Harris, founder, pastor and CEO of God First Church and Ministries, addresses the annual Chicago Faith-Based Community Breakfast on Saturday, 8 a.m., at the Chicago Hilton Hotel. The inter-generational breakfast, featuring senior citizens and Chicago Public Schools students engaging in lively dialogue, will be highlighted by an electrifying praise and worship performance by Currie High School’s Gospel Choir and $1,000 scholarships presented to Chicago Housing Authority students. Over 100 gifts will be given to guests along with special giveaways, including a $1,000 cash prize, television set, digital camera and more. Also, a donation will be made to the relief fund in Haiti. Tickets to the annual event: $40/$400 for a table of 10. Contact Jalondo, (773) 667-5200.      Meet the Director – The Good Negro, Tracey Scott Wilson’s gripping new drama at Goodman Theatre (through June 6), which rips through the pages of history to uncover the human story at the heart of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, is directed by Chicago’s own award-winning Chuck Smith, Goodman’s resident director and an associate producer of Legacy Productions, a Chicago-based touring company. Smith’s Goodman credits include the Chicago premieres of Proof and The Story; the world premieres of By the Music of the Spheres and The Gift Horse; James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner, which transferred to Boston’s Huntington Theatre where it won the Independent Reviewers of New England Award for Best Direction; Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun; Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky; August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; the Fats Waller musical Ain’t Misbehavin’; the 1993 to 1995 productions of A Christmas Carol; Crumbs From the Table of Joy; Vivisections from a Blown Mind and The Meeting.

     Additionally, he served as dramaturg for the world-premiere production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean at the Goodman; directed Knock Me a Kiss at Victory Gardens Theater, where his directing credits include Master Harold and the Boys, Home, Dame Lorraine with Esther Rolle and Eden, for which he received a Jeff Award nomination for best direction. Regionally, he directed Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Birdie Blue at Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Story at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Blues for an Alabama Sky at Alabama Shakespeare Festival and The Last Season for The Robey Theatre Company in L.A.

     At Columbia College Smith was facilitator of the Theodore Ward Prize playwriting contest for 20 years and editor of the contest anthologies Seven Black Plays and Best Black Plays. He won a Chicago Emmy Award as associate producer/theatrical director for the NBC teleplay Crime of Innocence and was theatrical director for the Emmy Award-winning Fast Break to Glory and the Emmy Award-nominated The Martin Luther King Suite. He was a founding member of the Chicago Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director for four seasons and directed the Jeff Award-nominated Suspenders and the Jeff Award-winning musical Po’.

    Directing credits include productions at eta, Black Ensemble Theater, Northlight Theatre, MPAACT, Congo Square Theatre Co., The New Regal Theater, Kuumba Theatre Co., Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Pegasus Players, the Timber Lake Playhouse in Mt. Carroll, Ill., Black Theatre Troupe in Phoenix, and the New York premiere of The Hooch at the New Federal Theatre. Smith is a 2003 inductee into the Chicago State University Gwendolyn Brooks Center’s Literary Hall of Fame and a 2001 Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year. He is the proud recipient of the 1982 Paul Robeson Award and the 1997 Award of Merit presented by the Black Theater Alliance of Chicago. He is currently a board member of the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago.      Newsy Names – Happy b’day to Mary Mitchell, Rev. Michael Pfleger, Claudette Roper, Deanese Williams-Harris, Aquanetta White-Olive, Theresa (namesake) Robinson, Rae Lewis-Thornton and Rick McGuire … Watch for the re-opening soon of historic Gladys’ Luncheonette, now owned by Angela McGowan … Bebe & Cece Winans light up the stage of the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, Ind. on Saturday at 8 p.m. … Dr. Claude Porter, David Quas and Claudette Harrel, the hierarchy of Proviso-Leydon Council for Community Action, are preparing for the 20th annual Golf Classic, a June 22 fundraiser at Chicago Indian Lakes Resort in surburban Bloomingdale …  Hear the music, poetry and social commentary of the late Oscar Brown Jr. through the eyes of his friend and protΘgΘe, Morris Gearring, Friday through Monday at Davenport’s Piano Bar, 1383 N. Milwaukee Ave. Something About Oscar, directed by Chuck Smith, Goodman Theatre’s artistic director, showcases the personal insights and stories of Gearring as he performs a series of Oscar’s most famous songs, with musical backing by Calvin “Koco” Brunson and his band. Oscar’s unique music was a blend of soul, jazz and musical theatre dealing with the joy, anger, love, frustration and humor of Black life. His most popular Mr. Kicks, Signifyin’ Monkey, Hazel’s Hips, I Was Cool, Afro Blue, Work Song and The Snake. Admission: $30; call (773) 278-1830 or visit www.davenportspianobar.com for reservations … Louise Sibley directs the legendary Center Aisle Players in four performances of Take a Number, Darling, a three-act comedy, May 21-23, at St. Thaddeus Church, 9550 S. Harvard.  

Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender.

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