"It becomes important to evaluate what our life has meant. We weren't just here and passed on," says actress Uta Hagen in Studs Terkel's book about "death, rebirth, and hunger for a faith." Hagen, who died last January, is one of almost 30 people depicted in director-adapter Derek Goldman's chamber-theater production, being performed as part of Steppenwolf's interdisciplinary "Traffic" series. An ensemble of company members and guests portrays a wide range of Terkel's interviewees. Some are famous: antiwar novelist Kurt Vonnegut, journalist Vernon Jarrett, and civil rights activist Mamie Till Mobley, whose teenage son Emmett was murdered by racists. We also see a retired New York cop and his ex-firefighter brother, a Hiroshima survivor, a funeral director, a cancer patient, a paramedic, an exonerated death row inmate, and an AIDS legal caseworker (Reader contributor Justin Hayford). Terkel himself is portrayed by Alan Wilder. Their thoughts and experiences--punctuated by a score of classic gospel numbers along with the occasional show tune or opera chorus--are woven into a moving tapestry by Goldman, a former Chicagoan now based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mon 10/18, 7:30 PM, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted, 312-335-1650 (TTY 312-335-3830), $20.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Chuck Winans.