Tag Archives: storytelling

The Container

Written by Zeying Lang

Figure and Info Retrieved from https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/digital-theatre/the-container

Hunger. Stink. Darkness. Uncertainty. In a dark container, five people, from different countries, are bundled with the same destinite. They have zero control and information about what’s going on at the outside of the container. 

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COVID-19: No One is Immune

by: Becca Wood

Whether you’re NBC Chicago, ABC Chicago, FOX Chicago, The New York Times or the Elmhurst Daily Herald, one thing every news source can agree upon is the fact that no one if safe from this pandemic. However, each of these news outlets have chosen varying ways in showing this concept.

The idea that no one is safe does not necessarily mean that every individual will be infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus. No one is safe from this virus because people have lost their jobs, people are unable to visit with loved ones and people have to stay indoors risking mental health or being trapped in an unsafe environment.

Science Without Answers

Each day, new data and information is brought to the public by health experts studying the virus. Doctors and nurses across the country listen for new developments on the novel virus.

Dr. Lara Ferri, doctor in Philadelphia, said healthcare workers are trying their best to prepare for the coming weeks, but can only do so much with limited resources.

Dr. Lara Ferri on lack of resources

Ferri’s husband, Dr. Raj Shah, works in pediatrics at another hospital in Philadelphia, where he has been told to give up beds of his own patients to house more coronavirus patients as the facility’s immediate care units become full.

Though Shah does not ordinarily work in emergency care units, he has provided his medical expertise to assist the hospital in caring for the surplus of COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Lara Ferri on working on the front lines

Since the pandemic began, news outlets such as NBC Chicago, ABC Chicago and Fox Chicago have daily streams of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker with updates on coronavirus developments and adjustments to the stay-at-home order.

Among the data shared is generally the number of cases, number of fatalities, number hospitalized and, more recently, the number recovered. The briefings also feature symptoms of the virus and what people should be wary of.

Though most symptoms are respiratory based, other symptoms have come into media’s limelight, such as COVID-toes. Other tragic deaths, such as the 16-year-old boy from Wheeling, Illinois, raise questions as to possible additional strains of coronavirus.

As Pritzker grows increasing frustrated with lack of testing kits in Illinois, he has voiced concern over the accuracy of these tests and whether false negative and positive results are possible.

During his daily briefings, Pritzker has said he doesn’t see the Illinois economy fully reopening until there is a vaccine in place and the numbers are going down for 14 consecutive days.

Ferri said she knows healthcare workers and researchers have been doing all they can to form new drugs to combat this virus or use old drugs if they are safe for the time being.

As more recover from the coronavirus, they may not be completely cured. Ferri said many will have chronic lung damage for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Lara Ferri on chronic lung damage

Ferri has lost immediate family to COVID-19 in Italy and, though she admits it is personal for her, she does not want the same to happen across the United States.

Dr. Lara Ferry on abiding by shelter-in-place order

The Everyday Impact

Though the scientific details of the virus are pivotal in the public understanding its severity, many news outlets thought to focus on the everyday impact this is having on people around the world.

The New York Times wrote an interactive article, “The Great Empty,” with images and text showing how this pandemic looks in a variety of countries. The New York Times has daily news updates regarding the virus, but has noticeably chose to write longer form articles to capture the grave impact.

For Chicagoans, COVID-19 became even more real when news outlets like NBC Chicago and ABC Chicago took drone footage of the empty city.

Both news outlets said they chose to feature this drone footage from artists in Chicago struggling to deliver their voice during this time. Though the simple video will not pay the bills, the artists said they are doing anything they can to keep their art alive.

Students studying abroad this semester have had to cut their travels short bringing their books home and, for some, also the virus. Thomas Clancy, sophomore at Clemson University, caught COVID-19 studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. This is the message he sent his sister:

Meg Frey, a woman living in Elmhurst, Illinois, said she feels fortunate to be living in the Chicagoland area during this time. She explained the leadership of Pritzker and Lightfoot have made all the difference.

Meg Frey on Chicago leadership

Gabrielle Wood, also a woman from the Chicagoland area, has a daughter graduating her senior year at Fenwick High School. She said it’s an upsetting time, but she’s trying to keep priorities in line.

Gabrielle Wood on having a senior in high school

Her daughter, Kimberly Wood, has spent the past few weeks taking classes on her iPad in her bedroom on e-learning. Each morning she is expected to sign-in, otherwise students are expected to “call in sick” by notifying the school.

Kimberly Wood on e-learning in high school

Kimberly Wood said she’s thankful to be healthy and able to spend time with family during the shelter-in-place order. However, she explained she’s sad her and her classmates will not have the senior year they expected.

Kimberly Wood on senior year of high school

Uncertainty of the Unemployed

Before the shelter-in-place orders were announced, my mom and I took a trip to Colorado after choosing to avoid our originally planned trip to New York City due to the escalating coronavirus situation. The severity of the pandemic reaching the United States became very real very quickly, as stores and restaurants closed their doors and travel bans were being issued.

One woman working as a waitress and hostess at a restaurant open for pick-up said all their employees were forced to cut back on hours and are worried about any future paychecks.

She wanted to remain anonymous, as she was instructed to not speak to media while on the job.

Hostess and waitress on being scared for job safety

Shawn Wood, an attorney in Chicago, said his job is safe for now, but he is on a committee that decides what attorneys and secretaries are furloughed during this time, with some not returning to work after the pandemic lightens.

Shawn Wood on furloughing

Shawn Wood said he has tried to save as many employees as possible, but it’s not ultimately his decision who is furloughed. Instead, he has tried to act as a voice of comfort, listening to those in shock from the difficult news.

Shawn Wood on difficult conversations

The New York Times article, “‘Sudden Black Hole’ for the Economy With Millions More Unemployed,” and the newspaper’s podcast, The Daily, both shed light on the crippling effects this pandemic has on the economy.

According to the article, within three weeks, 16 million people had been put out of work. As Michael BarBaro said in his podcast, this number is simply unheard of in American history.

In both the article and podcast, The New York Times explains that people filing for unemployment will receive more money than they ordinarily would. This will aid those out of work amid the falling economy, but can only hold people over for so long.

Hope in Humanity

Despite the efforts of news media to inform the public of the necessity to stay quarantined and the impact this virus is having, many have also been choosing to focus on the positive acts happening.

NBC Chicago has featured several stories on newborn babies arriving amid the pandemic. A recent couple announced the 6-week-early baby by writing pieces of paper and showing their family through a glass window of the hospital.

While each of the news outlets have been clearly focused on real people in communities doing good, some networks are aiding in displaying ways to keep active at home.

ABC Chicago has been providing a combination of uplifting content, along with ideas to keep a positive mindset while staying busy at home.

Fox Chicago has a tab on their website for their show, Good Day Chicago. It’s no coincidence that’s the tab is called “Good Day,” as they showcase daily uplighting stories.

Helping people be aware of their mental health, Fox has produced stories such as a woman creating a Facebook page for people to vent about coronavirus. Another story features a violinist talking about music education at home in Chicago.

Frey said she’s proud to be from Chicago not only for the leadership driving people through the pandemic, but also because Chicagoans appreciate keeping a light-hearted attitude in times of despair.

Meg Frey on Chicago positivity

The Elmhurst Daily Herald appeared to have a constant flow of positive stories — occasionally lacking in hard-hitting news on the coronavirus. From “Humanitarian Service Project launches campaign to combat hunger amid crisis” to “Trivia Night: At Home Edition to raise funds for West Suburban Humane Society,” the writers seem to focus on the good in the community.

Though these news outlets are working through times of uncertainty, each platform featured stories looking into the future, ensuring Americans are aware of reality without losing hope in humanity.

Anna Deavere Smith’s Stories from the States

Tyler Tubbs

https://krannertcenter.com/events/anna-deavere-smith

Anna Deavere Smith, known chiefly for her unique solo act in which she reenacts interviews that she’s collected from all across the U.S., travelled to the Krannert to share her stories on “Getting Through the Day.” Her act requires nothing but her notes and a microphone, so the stage was set rather simply.

Anna’s compilations of stories guide the performance toward a central theme or idea. In her performance at the Krannert, she used interviews with countless individuals on their various ideals of getting through the day. Between personas, Anna often took time to pause and preface the next interview. Another way to distinguish portions of the show is to pay attention to the expert voice inflections and impersonations.

This incredibly unique performance distinguished itself from traditional documentaries by being a rather interactive show. Anna opened for the audience to participate on multiple occasions, once to allow for the chorus to “Amazing Grace” to ring through the entire auditorium. At the end of the show, she requested that the lights in the audience be turned on as she began a Q and A session right in the theater. This unique level of interaction and mode of storytelling puts all of Smith’s shows in a novel category of performances.

Thank you for returning to blog! I can’t wait to add another to the stack following the march 6th performance of Cabaret, so I hope you find your way back once more!

New Kind of Storyteller, Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith, revered as a genius who created ‘a new form of theater’ held a performance at the Colwell Playhouse in Krannert Center on Tuesday, February 18.

By Aejin Shin

People waiting before the show began

Anna Deavere Smith. Who is she? According to her program profile, she is an actor, playwright, and educator. These days, thanks to the FAA110 class, I am watching many performances at the krannert center. Some of them I was able to understand the content by seeing the title of the show (like Shanghai Ballet and Drumfolk), but others were impossible to grasp until I saw the show, like Somi. This performance is in the latter case. Until I entered the concert hall, I had no idea what kind of show I was going to see today. Nor did I know if she was a singer, comedian, or even an actor, because I had no background knowledge of her. However, it took only five minutes to fall into her charms.

The appearance of the stage before the show began

This was definitely a new kind of show. There were no fancy stage settings or costumes for the performance, nor were there any other performers. However, she had the ability to dominate the stage by herself. She interviewed others, then recorded their voices and changed the recordings into a performance.

Tickets and pamphlets

Anna Deavere Smith’s performance made her show very special. It was completely different from news stories, documentaries, and dramas that tell only objective truths. She delivered to the audience what she wanted to convey through her acting. Her performance was quite different from any other performances that I’ve seen at the Krannert Center. Her performance was neither news, nor drama, nor stand-up comedy, but humorously allowed people to know the exact truth. She tries to express Americans’ diverse opinions on various social issues. She has already interviewed more than 2,000 people so far. Smith acts out a variety of people by making variations in her voice. She describes people with gestures as well as her voice.

A portrait of Anna Deavere Smith

She also communicated with the audience through questions and answers after the performance. I didn’t fully understand the stories, but I thought it was wonderful to have a moment like this. She could use the audience’s questions as more material for her next performance.

Comedian and Storyteller: Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith held a story telling event that lasted approximately an hour followed by questions from the audience who were intrigued with her work. In her performance she was able to express themes that involve issues in America. This event was held on Tuesday February 18th, 2020 in the Colwell Playhouse at the Krannert Art Center.

Written by: Lydia Amezcua Ramirez

A picture of the author/story teller, Anna Deavere Smith

Creative Expression

Anna Deavere Smith’s theater performance was unique in the way that she took interviews to perform real people. By this I mean that she had taken the time to sit down with people, have them share the story they wanted to convey to her, took their story, and performed it in a way that brought laughter to the audience yet still conveyed a specific theme. At the beginning of each new theme she told the audience what the title of each story that she would present would be. This is how I could tell that she presented a new person, based on the different titles. Also, at the end of each story she would say thank you and the audience would clap.

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Performance

Another thing to note about her performance was that she was dressed in a simplistic manner and the set was also set up that way. This is important because she was still able to indicate character without any extra garments to wear. All she needed to present her characters were her use of voice and body gestures. For each new theme she presented she would use a different type of voice to depict that character. As for body gestures, she would also keep it simple and use body movements that indicated the character she was in.

A picture of the stage, showing how simplistic the set up was
This picture depicts the simplicity of the wardrobe worn by Anna Deavere Smith

Stories Told

In her performance, Anna D. Smith was able to represent different aspects of the American past through interview in the way that she selected her themes. The people that she interviewed had a specific theme to share which she wanted to convey surroudning issues of community, character, and diversity in America from the past. For example, she had portrayed a character of a reverend during the civil rights movement. Her themes relate to the present due to the issues that occurred back then in which can still be seen today but less problematic as they were back then.

The way that this performance is different from the news or documentary films is that those are matters of factual detail and given events with names and dates. In Anna Smith’s performance she used theater to convey her characters through acting without giving away the names of the persons she interviewed for the stories. This was a creative performance on her part, especially when she was able to have the audience constantly laughing.