CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
LOS ANGELES – The genius comedy of Gene Wilder was often in the subtlety. With a slow burn or a raised eyebrow, Wilder was able to draw big laughs. The star of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” and “Young Frankenstein” died in Stamford, Connecticut, according to his nephew in Los Angeles. He was 83.
CHICAGO – One of the more unique independent films that worked the festival circuit in 2012 and ’13 was the drama “Mr. Sophistication.” The main character was Ron Waters, a comedian described as “Richard Pryor’s protegé.” Actor Harry Lennix took on the character, breathing in both the drama of the show business story and the particular style of stand-up.
CHICAGO – One of the most remarkable and influential elements of Richard Pryor’s groundbreaking stand-up comedy was how completely bare he laid himself on stage through his art. He held nothing back. He shared not only jokes but personal stories, including the dark stuff. And so when Shout Factory named their massive tribute to the comedian “Life in Concert,” they got something absolutely right.
CHICAGO – A bit too much of “Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic,” premiering tonight, May 31, 2013, on Showtime, is devoted to adoration of its subject matter from his peers and friends, and not enough insight is offered into from where the true talent or serious demons of the man originated. Perhaps no one really knows.
CHICAGO – Pam Grier has a strong, peaceful aura. After inventing the female action hero in her early 1970s hits “Coffy” and “Foxy Brown,” Grier has navigated her life through optimistic success. She was in Chicago for a book signing at Borders State Street, promoting ‘Foxy: My Life in Three Acts.”