The Journal of Ordinary Thought | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Journal of Ordinary Thought

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"Every person is a philosopher" is the motto of the Neighborhood Writing Alliance. Since 1991 the NWA has held workshops in underprivileged communities and collected the writing produced in an unusual publication: The Journal of Ordinary Thought, now also a theater show. Next week the Chicago Theatre Company is restaging last fall's anthology of poems and essays by everyday pundits at the screened-in Theater on the Lake. It's an appropriate setting for this collage of life stories narrated entirely from front steps, porches, and corner joints--in other words, from the heart and soul of the neighborhoods. This work reminds us that even our most mundane experiences are miraculous, that every day we make choices that affect the outcome of our lives and the lives of those around us, and that even in our most difficult moments--of victimization, hopelessness, drug addiction, or grief over the loss of a husband, father, or child--we can be comforted by our connection to those who've withstood the same pain and come away stronger. All these stories are told in the simple, truthful words of the people who lived them, and all have been beautifully and sensitively orchestrated by David Barr and Mignon McPherson. This production retains all but one of the exceptional original cast members: in the role of Actress #4, Gwen Wilson replaces Saadiga Muhammad. Theater on the Lake, Fullerton and Lake Shore Dr., 312-742-7994. Opens Wednesday, July 5, 8 PM. Through July 9: Thursday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 4 PM. $10. --Kim Wilson

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