Mary Kate Barley-Jenkins's Blog

Announcing CHF's Performing Arts Lineup for Fall 2013
The Chicago Humanities Festival is known for presenting a scholar’s view on our annual Festival theme—and experiencing a great lecture can certainly be transformative. But we are as deeply committed to presenting the artist’s view. For years, each spring, CHF has showcased fresh, original performances from around the globe in our Stages, Sights and Sounds festival. This year, building on that long standing commitment, we’ve integrated even more performing... Continue Reading >>
The Highest Ranking Woman in Baseball
As the baseball playoffs heat up, here at the Festival we are looking forward to a post-season visit with Kim Ng, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president for baseball operations. Ng will be in conversation with Melissa Isaacson on Sunday, November 11. The program team knew early on that a Festival themed “America” had to feature baseball.  Of all the professional sports, baseball is second closest to my heart, after hockey (that is a story for another blog). At five,... Continue Reading >>
Nearly, but not Quite, Shakespeare
  What follows is a conversation between the curator of Stages, Sights & Sounds and CHF director of programming Mary Kate Barley-Jenkins and CHF artistic director Matti Bunzl. This conversation was transcribed and edited by Rachel Blumenthal. MATTI: I’ve been reading about Susanna Hamnett’s upcoming performance, Nearly Lear, and what I’m really curious to start with is, how did you find it? Of course, you’re the President of the International Performing Arts for Youth... Continue Reading >>
The All-too-Familiar Awkwardness of a First Crush
Having studied theatre and the art of expression, I am constantly taking in the world around me. What new observations about human interaction do I notice? How can these observations contribute to a more fully-engaged life? I think that is why I fell in love with DynamO Théâtre's Mur-Mur (the wall) when I saw it. The piece is filled with outsized human interaction and physicality. The story takes place against the backdrop of a building where five young friends congregate... Continue Reading >>
Shakespeare for One
A classically trained actress walks into a theatre and decides to play all of the characters in King Lear herself. Impossible, you say? It is possible and we’re bringing it to Chicago’s audiences at this year’s Stages, Sights & Sounds festival in May. It’s a performance that will change the way you think about Shakespeare. In this rendition by Susanna Hamnett, the story is not only poignant and tragic, but also gentle, mischievous, and funny. Yes, you read that correctly.... Continue Reading >>
Stages, Sights & Sounds 2012
We all know that Chicago is an international city. From its diverse neighborhoods to the wealth of world-class cultural programming, I can’t think of a better home for Stages, Sights & Sounds, an international performing arts festival for families and theatregoers of any age. The work we showcase pushes the boundaries of traditional theatre and performance. Work for young audiences should push boundaries; after all, isn’t that what childhood is about?  This year’s festival is our thirteenth... Continue Reading >>
Big 10 Pep Rally!
You might be surprised to know that football and the humanities go together like coffee and cream.  The Big 10 Conference, formed more than 115 years ago, (now actually comprised of twelve teams) is known as much for its academic prowess as it is for its athletic accomplishments. It was with this in mind that Festival Artistic Director, Matti Bunzl, created the Big 10 initiative for techlknowledgē. We’ve combed the Big 10 universities for the people you’ve never heard of who... Continue Reading >>
Peggy Hall-Heineman
If you are a Festival regular, you may have seen a woman with a clipboard standing at the CHF ticket desk, trailed by numerous high school students. She may have stood out to you for several reasons: the clipboard, her ubiquity, or the fact that her high school entourage represents an age demographic not usually in full force in the festival audience. And whether you’re new to the Festival or a long-time veteran, we want you to know her story. That woman with the clipboard is none other than... Continue Reading >>
Common
Sometimes the most intriguing ideas for Festival programs come from our partners. Last winter, an email arrived from the Seminary Co-op Bookstore with a suggestion for an event featuring the rap artist Common and Professor Adam Bradley, the co-editor of The Anthology of Rap. Published by Yale University Press in October of 2010, The Anthology of Rap is the first book to bring together the greatest rap lyrics of all time, giving them the respect they deserve as poetry.  In the afterword to... Continue Reading >>
Upping the Ante
This post originally appeared on the Neighborhood Parents Network website. Republished with permission. NPN is the media sponsor of Kindur performances May 9-15. My son’s infinite capacity for curiosity is thrilling and scary. He is constantly upping the ante in his exploration of the world: before I can catch him, climbing to the top of the tallest playground slide at 18 months. At two, running into Lake Michigan’s waves no matter how many times... Continue Reading >>