Netta Walker’s ‘Homecoming’

Netta Walker, one of the stars of All-American: Homecoming and a stage actor who spent time in Chicago, discusses how her stage experience compares with her TV experience, and, amazingly, how one of her early formative experiences was with the Reduced Shakespeare Company (!). FEATURING: her debut on the stage of Lincoln Center; where she got her early professional experience; being blessed with supportive parents; the value of seeing Shakespeare performed (even by us) before studying it as literature; being part of the original cast of Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon’s The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley; how to avoid the stress of trying to guess what a director wants in an audition; and where she gets her (for want of a better word) confidence. (Length 16:07) 

Another Day’s Begun

Author, journalist, and theater advocate Howard Sherman talks about his new book, Another Day’s Begun: Thornton Wilder’s Our Town in the 21st Century, a fascinating oral history featuring conversations with over a hundred theater artists talking about productions of this seminal work from Chicago to Miami, from off-Broadway to the UK, and from professionals to students to Kate Powers’ transformative production at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. Featuring the two plays that framed World War II; how Howard’s opinion of Our Town changed during the writing of this book; how every production is telling its own story to its own community; how the play prompted dramatic new considerations about the American criminal justice system; and how the community of Grover’s Corners is always populated anew by the community of actors and audience members coming together at every performance. (Length 28:07)

Episode 583. Short Rehearsal Process

Jim Ortlieb and Gregory Linington, who played John Hemings and Henry Condell in the midwest premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will last fall of 2017, return to the RSC Podcast to discuss the challenges and rewards of a “reduced” rehearsal period. Over pizza and beer at Chicago’s Candelite restaurant, Jim and Gregory chat about being prepared but also staying open, similar-but-different approaches to the work, the liberating importance of “pre-hearsal”, the artistic value of pub time, the time-honored dilemma of religion vs entertainment, the subleties of defining character, the beauty of playing against the text, the gift of intimacy, and the values that constitute true “Chicago theatre.” (Pictured (left to right): Austin Tichenor, Jim Ortlieb, and Gregory Linington recording this podcast live at the Candlelite in Chicago, while Dana Black hovers.) (Length 27:32) 

Episode 570. Book Of Will

Director Jessica Thebus (Richard III, In The Garden: A Darwinian Love Story) returns to the podcast to talk about the midwest premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, which she’s directing at the Northlight Theatre in Chicago. Jessica talks about her approach to this play, and from where she draws her certainties and insights. Featuring surprisingly little historical fudging, labors of love, illuminating paths, avoiding traps, staying ahead of the audience, and celebrating the creation of a thing that might easily never have happened. (Length 17:51) (l-r, Richard Burbage (Austin Tichenor), Alice Heminges (Dana Black), John Heminges (Jim Ortlieb), and Henry Condell (Gregory Linington) from the Northlight Theatre production of Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will. Photo by Liz Lauren.)

Episode 502. Directing Richard III

”Jessica Thebus directed Richard III for Chicago’s Gift Theatre in the spring of 2016, an amazing production that starred Michael Patrick Thornton (right) in the title role. Jessica talks about the impetus for directing this famously challenging play and reveals where the drama gets most focused, the secrets to fantastic fight choreography, comparisons Read more…