Pullman Porter Blues | Goodman Theatre | Fall Arts, Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

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When: Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Oct. 27 2013

Cheryl L. West's Pullman Porter Blues traveled nearly 3,000 miles, from Seattle Repertory Theatre to D.C.'s Arena Stage, before landing at the Goodman Theatre. The play's characters, chugging along in a Pullman sleeping car on the Panama Limited in 1937, go another 700 or so, from Chicago to somewhere this side of Jackson, Mississippi. Yet at the end of the long first act, it's questionable whether this lumbering behemoth is ever going to get anywhere. It's not that West hasn't loaded up her version of the Panama Limited—a train that ran with all Pullman cars between Chicago and New Orleans from 1911 until the 1960s, when it added coach service—with adequate dramatic fuel. The porters on her train, three generations of headstrong Sykes men, have dramatically different views on their racially charged jobs. Monroe, the son of slaves, is just hitting 71 and has spent 50 years as a Pullman porter, a job that demands he play Stepin Fetchit for white customers and white conductors. His son Sylvester, a "born fighter," as we're told several times, is working to organize the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first African-America union—which reached a collective bargaining agreement with the Pullman company the year this play takes place. Continue reading >>

Price: $25-$86

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