Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-12-07



SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Oil dependency and tragedy
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times

This article shared 3279 times since Wed Oct 21, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out playwright and director Leigh Fondakowski was initially resistant to creating Spill, a theatrical docudrama looking at the 2010 explosion of the BP-owned oil rig Deepwater Horizon and the aftermath of it spewing oil for 87 days into the Gulf of Mexico. But since Spill will be making its Midwest debut this week courtesy of TimeLine Theatre, it's clear that Fondakowski became convinced to change her mind.

"I became pretty determined not to do any more big epic, tragic, interview-based projects," Fondakowski said. "I've spent a great chunk of my artistic life doing that kind of work. I love it, but it is very time-consuming as a multi-year process involving a large amount of travel and interviewing."

Indeed, Fondakowski is famed and respected for her documentary-style theatrical works. As a member of the Tectonic Theatre Project, Fondakowski was a crucial part to the creation of The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, a much-produced drama and its sequel questioning homophobia following the 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Wyoming.

And because of the major impact of The Laramie Project, Fondakowski also was also approached to apply the same theatrical storytelling methods to The People's Temple, a thorough examination of the San Francisco-based church that horrifically ended in what is known as the 1978 Jonestown Massacre in Guyana. American Theater Company staged the Chicago premiere of the work in 2008.

The seeds of Spill developed when Fondakowski received an invitation from Wesleyan University to teach a class in collaboration with scientists inspired by her fact-finding interviewing techniques. And since the BP oil spill had happened, that's where Wesleyan steered Fondakowski to go.

"I actually went down there for the first time with students to teach them to do interviews and make art from it. I really went in the role as a teacher and not as an artist myself," Fondakowski said. "When the university proposed maybe that they could commission me to write about a play about this crisis, I said, 'No.'"

But once Fondakowski arrived on the Gulf Coast and met with people directly affected by the spill ( including some relatives of the 11 men killed in the blast ), she became really intrigued by the relationship between oil and nature and the people who rely on the industry.

"It really felt like a much bigger, iconic story to be told about that place and I kind of got hooked in really quickly to write a play about it," said Fondakowski, adding that once she finished her teaching commitments she herself returned many time to work on what would become Spill.

Kelli Simpkins, a member of Chicago's About Face Theatre and a company member of the Tectonic Theatre Project, also became involved in the creation of Spill as a dramaturg and as a member of the original ensemble when the play premiered in March 2014 at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For Simpkins, it was great to once work again with Fondakowski since they also collaborated on the two Laramie Project plays and the 2007 interview-based lesbian work I Think I Like Girls. Simpkins is also appearing the acting company of Spill for TimeLine.

"It's my fifth project with her," Simpkins said. "We've had a friendship that is really longstanding which is a rarity in this business."

As a performer and collaborator, Simpkins loves doing interview-based pieces for numerous reasons. She feels a deep responsibility for portraying real people that she has met and might have interviewed as part of the artistic process.

Simpkins also revealed that Fondakowski is thoroughly revising Spill since many more people came forward to be interviewed after its world premiere. Many people had pre-judged the piece only as a liberal condemnation of the oil industry.

"For me, this really is about a community speaking to another community. We're representing characters who are really infrequently seen on the stage," Simpkins said. "After the cameras shut off and get their soundbites, and this happened in Laramie and this happened with The People's Temple, people forgot about the story and didn't go further into the story. And that's part of the product of this kind of work is that we have what is a lost art of listening to other people and listening to these stories."

TimeLine Theatre's Midwest premiere of Spill plays from Saturday, Oct. 24, through Saturday, Dec. 19, at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Previews run through Thursday, Oct. 29, with an official press opening at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30. Preview tickets are $22 and regular-run tickets are $38-$51 with a $10 student discount available; call 773-327-5252 or visit .

This article shared 3279 times since Wed Oct 21, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Des Plaines Theater cancels anti-LGBTQ hate group event after outcry from citizens 2023-01-20
- DuPage County-based Awake Illinois was set to hold an event called "Out of the Echo Chamber: Coalition for Kids" at the city-owned, but not city-operated, Des Plaines Theatre Wednesday, Feb. 8. This event has now been ...

Gay News

Theater Review: tick, tick...BOOM! 2023-01-19
- One of the wonders of live theater is that old works can be revived and reinterpreted to respond to changes in culture and society. Often a new directorial approach can make tried-and-true material feel fresh and ...

Gay News

Theater Review: Princess Ivona is a dark but comic portrait of power 2023-01-19
- Playwright: Witold Gombrowicz. At: Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland St. Tickets: 773-384-0494 or; $25 (two-for-one admission Thursdays) Runs through Feb. 18 Trap Door Theatre is now tackling the ...

Gay News

Jordan Vasquez treats Chicago to Fosse's Chicago 2023-01-12
- Actor and openly gay performer Jordan Vasquez, an Illinois native now living in New York City, is giving Chicago audiences "the old razzle dazzle" in the fabulous musical Chicago. This dynamically talented performer brings with him ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Diversity report, Dave Bautista, Leslie Jordan, greatest singers 2023-01-08
- The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative's latest "Inclusion in the Director's Chair" report analyzes the gender and race/ethnicity of the directors behind last year's 100 highest-grossing movies in the country, while the San Diego State Center ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Best in theater, TV, film and music; Obama's favorites; 'Glass Onion' 2022-12-31
- Deadline's Broadway critic revealed his picks for the best of 2022. Leopoldstadt topped his list, but other productions included Kimberly Akimbo, Some Like It Hot, Into the Woods, Hangmen, Ain't No Mo', A Strange Loop, Topdog/Underdog, ...

Gay News

PrideArts, Chicago drag artists co-produce story of a drag family's tribulations 2022-12-22
-- From a press release - CHICAGO — PrideArts will celebrate the arrival of the year 2023 by teaming up with the Chicago drag performers Tirrany Reigns and Ramona Mirage to stage Reigns' original Queer Family Dramedy, set just after New Year's ...

Gay News

Oak Park Festival Theatre makes history with new artistic director 2022-12-20
- The Oak Park Festival Theatre (OPFT)—the oldest professional classical theater in the Midwest—announced that Peter G. Andersen will be joining the company as its new artistic director in January 2023. It is the first time that a person ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Best and worst films, Broadway, Adam Lambert, 'Proud Family,' women's hockey 2022-12-18
- IndieWire revealed its list of the best LGBTQ+ films and TV series of 2022. Just some of the selections included Benediction, Bros, Do Revenge, Fire Island, Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Inspection, Los Espookys, P-Valley, ...

Gay News

Life is a Cabaret for James Harkness these days 2022-12-14
- Out performer James Harkness is one of the many performers in Cabaret ZaZou's Luminaire, the latest project from the creative team behind the successful show Teatro ZinZanni. Currently in an open run since Sept. 7, 2022, ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jerrod Carmichael, 'Heartstopper,' Lena Waithe, Gyllenhaal, Cher 2022-12-11
- Out comedian Jerrod Carmichael will host the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Deadline reported. After a yearlong hiatus, the three-hour telecast will air on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023 from The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on NBC and ...

Gay News

Theater Review: Mosque4Mosque 2022-12-09
- Author: Omer Abbas Salem. At: About Face Theatre at The Den Tickets:; $7.50-$41.25. Runs through: Dec. 17 Sara and her children are Syrian immigrants with a nice suburban house. Sara (Rula Gardenier) is an accountant, ...

Gay News

Michael Horvich: A caregiver remembers his talented husband 2022-12-07
- Michael Horvich has had many roles in his lifetime, among them teacher, photographer and author. However, one of his most important was being caregiver to Gregory Maire—Horvich's husband of 41 years, who died in 2015. Maire ...

Gay News

A stocking stuffed with holiday shows! 2022-12-03
- Christmas follows fast on Thanksgiving's leftovers, which means sugarplums-and-treacle time for Chicago theater, when many troupes offer holiday shows. There are at least 40 of 'em, from biggies such as the 45th annual A Christmas Carol ...

Gay News

Billy Porter receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame 2022-12-02
- On Dec. 1, award-winning actor/director/singer/playwright Billy Porter received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. "I'm just so blessed and so grateful to be here," he said, according to KTLA. "James Baldwin said, 'It's an ...


Copyright © 2023 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      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.