Dead or Alive | Raven Theatre | Spoken Word/Poetry Slams/Open Mikes | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Wednesdays. Continues through Dec. 19 2012
Price: $10-$14
The 80-minute evening is divided into two parts. Part one resembles a conventional poetry reading, except that half the readers impersonate famous dead poets while the other half play themselves and perform their own work. On the night I attended, for instance, Shannon Matesky acted the role of Langston Hughes, declaiming what seemed to be bits and pieces taken from Hughes's most famous poems. Jonathan Swift, Anne Sexton, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Etheridge Knight all got similar treatment, and alternated stage time with six local scribes (including the excellent Emily Rose). In part two, the living are pitted against the dead in a poetry slam judged by selected audience members. Never mind that the people playing the dead vary wildly as to chops, and never mind that director J.W. Basilo doesn't seem to have done anything at all to earn his director's credit; what really stinks here is the fact that Chicago Slam Works looked at artists like Hughes and Sexton and saw nothing more than fodder for a literary cage match. —Tony Adler


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