CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s been six months without live theater in Chicago. Now one famed acting group is now getting back on stage in front of an audience.
The Goodman Theatre is returning with a series of free outdoor performances of Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It!, a play about the life and work of the women’s rights and voting rights activist, who co-founded the Freedom Democratic Party.
The 40-minute abridged version of playwright Cheryl L. West’s play will tour Chicago’s neighborhoods for three weeks, with nine performances in September and October, starting Thursday night at Hamilton Park, 513 W. 72nd St., in Englewood.
“How ‘woke to the vote’ are we, nearly 60 years after the Voting Rights Act demolished those discriminatory barriers that kept people of color from exercising their civil liberty? There is courage in the face of fire, hope in tomorrow, and we all have a stake in our country,” West said of the play, her fourth collaboration with Goodman Theatre since 1993.
The performances are free, and viewing areas will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests will have to bring their own lawn chairs, and will be required to wear masks and observe social distancing.
Other performances include:
- Friday, Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. at Robert Abbott Park, 49 E. 95th, in West Chesterfield;
- Saturday, Sept. 19 at 3pm at the DuSable Museum of African American History at 740 E. 56th in Washington Park;
- Thursday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. in Willye B. White Park, 1610 W. Howard St. in Rogers Park;
- Friday, Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. at Indian Boundary Park, 2500 W. Lunt Ave. in West Ridge;
- Saturday, Sept. 26 at 3 p.m. at Portage Park, 4100 N. Long Av.;
- Thursday, Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. at Austin Town Hall Park, 5610 W. Lake St. in Austin;
- Friday, Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. at Homan Square Park, 3559 W. Arthington St., in Homan Square;
- And Saturday, Oct. 3 at 3 p.m. at Samuel Ellis Park, 3520 S. Cottage Grove Ave. in Bronzeville.
The show is adapted from Fannie, West’s play co-commissioned with the Goodman and Seattle Repertory Theater for the 2019 New Stages festival. The full production of Fannie will be part of the Goodman’s upcoming 2021 season.
“Knowing that Fannie’s voice needed to be heard during this critical time, we were inspired by the work of El Teatro Campesino and this quote from Luis Valdez, who himself was inspired by the determination of Fannie Lou Hamer—‘If the people can’t come to the theater, then the theater must go to the people.’ That is what this is all about,” said director Henry Godinez.