2016 marks the centennial year of the Great
Migration — a pivotal moment in history in which African Americans from the
rural south moved north and settled in cities throughout the West, Northeast,
and Midwest. To honor this milestone, Chicago's cultural community will provide
an exploration and celebration of African-American culture and history.
out these unique experiences and opportunities to learn more about Chicago's
African American influences during Black History Month and stay tuned for more
centennial celebrations throughout the year.
This month, The Second
City, Chicago's famed Improv troupe, (1616 N. Wells St.) is presenting a comedy
show titled Afro-Futurism, featuring street
satire and cultural cosmologies in the form of stand-up, sketch, music and more
by Chicago's hippest African American talent on the verge of a new generation
of comedy. Catch this performance (recently extended!) through April 27.
This year also marks
the quadricentennial anniversary celebration of literary giant William
Shakespeare with Shakespeare
400 Chicago. This yearlong
international arts festival, spearheaded by the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, is
the largest global celebration of the anniversary of Shakespeare's death
bringing together 60 of our cultural institutions with 400 artists form around
As part of the celebration, Shakespeare 400 Chicago will feature two
performances that draw on the impact of African influences on society,
literature and the performing arts with Sancho: An Act of Remembrance. This one-man show performed by Royal Shakespeare Company
actor Paterson Joseph (HBO's The Leftovers, NBC's You, Me and the
Apocalypse) looks at the African-British experience through the lens
of Charles Ignatius Sancho- a man of many talents, known to have quoted
Shakespeare immensely. Born on a slave ship, although never a slave, Sancho
became the first black person of African origin to vote in Britain. The final
performance will be February 21.
Shakespeare 400 Chicago
will also bring to the stage two special renditions of Othello, one of
Shakespeare's well-known tragedies. Both follow the tale of the Moorish general
in the Venetian Army and his wife Desdomonia, whose relationship comes to a
heart-breaking end because of the deceit, hatred and jealousy of Othello's
trusted ensign, Iago.
The first will be a stage production
directed by Jonathan Munby featuring Chicago born James Vincent Meredith as Othello. The production run is from February 18-April
10at the Courtyard Theater at Navy Pier. The second is a special performance
and dance interpretation of Othello by the world-renowned
Hamburg Ballet, February 23 and 24 at
Harris Theater Chicago (205 E. Randolph St.).
continue to shape the cultural experience in Chicago this year. To kick off its
40th anniversary season, Chicago's Black Ensemble Theater (4450
North Clark St.) will bring back the treasured production Doo Wop Shoo Bop, a showcase of the music and artists that formed the Doo
Wop sounds of the 50s and are still recognizable today. Step back into that
era beginning February 21.
neighborhood is perhaps considered one of the most significant landmarks of the
Great Migration, a neighborhood beaming with stories and culture given to it by
the African American settlers of the early 20th century. On February
27, for one special night, the Chicago Theatre will present Chicago's BRONZEVILLE The Musical, a thought-provoking story filled with dance and soulful
music that captures a wide range of emotions and testimonials illustrating the
experience of African Americans as they journeyed to Chicago.
Some of the lasting
influences of The Great Migration in Chicago can be heard in the music genres
of jazz, blues and gospel. Snap your fingers, stomp your feet and enjoy the
tunes that have long resonated through local clubs and bars throughout Chicago
at one of these iconic places.
And as an extension of Chicago's connection with the South, be sure to check
out the musical performance by New Orleans' Rebirth
Brass Band at Promontory in Chicago's Hyde Park
There's also still time
to enjoy these special exhibitions and events in celebration of Black
STAY TUNED: Come spring,
the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago will present the first retrospective
exhibition of artist Kerry James Marshall, considered one of America's greatest living painters and
an imaginative chronicler of the African American experience (April 23 -