The Goodman Theatre Presents the General Theater Studies 2014 Performance of HEARTSCAPE – An Exploration of Love

Reviewed By: S.L. Crawley

The Goodman Theatre is known for it’s amazing productions and artistic programming that has been a staple in Chicago for almost 90 years. Heartscape – performed by the students of the General Theater Studies (GTS) summer program, is no exception. Each summer GTS devises a play based on a central theme. The theme of this years show was Love. Eighty teenagers came together for the comprehensive six-week intensive for teenagers aged 14 to 18. The elements of storytelling, ensemble performance, and critical thinking are explored through the transformative workshops. For the final show, students conduct research with loved ones, friends and community members focusing on the question “When was a moment you had to fight for love?” The result was a thoughtful and inspiring performance written and performed by the participants.

The beauty of the show was it’s sheer simplicity. Set on a simple backdrop, intimate, personal stories came to life and intensified through physical manifestation. The ensemble cast would merge together to become the heart, pulsating and moving to the beat as one, while the storyteller relived the painful details of their past. Individual stories unfolded and intertwined throughout, coupled with tragic and hopeful stories of love and loss. Traditional roles were cast aside and complex underlying themes of gender, race and sexual orientation were tackled with both humor and heartfelt dialogue. A well orchestrated, engaging performance that I would recommend to any lover of theater.

Willa Taylor, the Goodman Theatre’s Director of Education and Community Development summed it up nicely, “I have seen 80 disparate people, who didn’t know each other, who were brave enough to say yes to an opportunity, make a family – an ensemble – that can perform magic onstage.”

And magical it was. I highly recommend the GTS program and the lovely performances that will surely continue to thrive in the future.

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Photo Credit: Teresa M. Rende