Chicago, IL - Court Theatre, under the continuing leadership of Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, and Executive Director Angel Ysaguirre, announces the online premiere of its Spotlight Podcast. A key component of Court's community engagement work, the Spotlight Serieswhich has in the past brought staged readings from BIPOC playwrights to local communities on Chicago's South and West sideshas been reimagined for 2021 as a series of four audio podcast episodes directed and performed by local theatre artists. The first season of the podcast focuses on Black literary figures from history not typically explored by theatres, and features readings from works by novelist and editor Pauline Hopkins; activist and journalist Ida B. Wells; poet Phillis Wheatley, and diarist Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson. Literary excerpts are read by Chicago actors Sheldon Brown, Kierra Bunch, Diana Coates, LaQuis Harkins, and Aneisa Hicks.
"With our Spotlight Reading Series, we wanted to revamp our hallmark community engagement program into a podcast," says Aaron Mays, Court's Community Programs Manager and host and creator of the podcast. "In it, we will expand our original scope to not only read plays but to feature classic literary texts, such as memoirs, speeches, poetry, and novels, by Black, indigenous and other writers of color."
"We're thrilled by the opportunity to explore new mediums of expression and reach new audiences with our first foray into podcasting," shares Angel Ysaguirre, Executive Director of Court Theatre. "Each of the literary figures explored in the Spotlight Podcast offers illuminating insights into the world we live in from a singular perspective that is thrillingly brought to life by some of Chicago's best actors."
Court commissioned artist Isaac Maysonet to create distinct episode portraits for the Spotlight Podcast. The artwork updates archival portraits of each writer in Maysonet's distinct, graphic style.
Episodes of the pilot season will be released on February 18, February 25, March 4, and March 11, 2021. The Spotlight Podcast will be available for streaming on Court's website at CourtTheatre.org, as well as on listening apps like Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Apple Podcast.
The Spotlight Reading Series is made possible, in part, by a grant from The Joyce Foundation.
About Court's Spotlight Reading Series
Since 2016, Court's Spotlight Reading Series has helped to redefineand ultimately expandthe canon of classic theatre by presenting readings of rarely produced plays by authors of color. Each season, Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson curates several plays to be presented as readings. Audiences come together in neighborhoods around Chicago to watch actors perform the plays with scripts in hand, and often have a chance to speak with the artists afterward at a post-show Q&A.
The series, which is currently on hiatus due to the pandemic, aims to introduce more Chicagoans to the authors and their work, which are rarely produced. Court builds community connections beyond our mainstage productions with neighborhood-based cultural institutions, nonprofits, and civic groups who often host our readings. All performances are free and open to the public.
Court Theatre is the professional theatre of the University of Chicago, dedicated to innovation, inquiry, intellectual engagement, and community service. Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to classic American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. The theatre revives lost masterpieces; illuminates familiar texts; explores the African American theatrical canon; and discovers fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences. In all of this work, we are committed to recognizing, addressing, and eradicating racism, as we strive to better serve our South Side community.