Category Archives: Performance

Lykanthea’s Migration: Music Inspired by Literature
by Sophie L. Nagelberg

Several summers ago, my band, Videotape, was about to play a set at Panda vs. Panda—a warehouse-turned-underground-venue inhabited by members of a shoegaze group called Panda Riot—when Lakshmi Ramgopal introduced herself to me as a member of Love & Radiation, a dark-dance-pop duo. Since then, our collective musical ventures have led us to play together and attend plenty of shows across various Chicago venues. We’ve also become friends.

In the mean time, Lakshmi wrote and recorded a solo album under the moniker Lykanthea. The five-track EP dubbed Migration (July 2014) is full of ambient, droning tones and dissonant chanting. The music is haunting and the lyrics provide an entire narrative based upon texts she came across in researching her dissertation. The more I listened, the more story I discovered. Recently, Lakshmi and I sat down to discuss her album as a literary work. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Performing Stories, Rather Than Just Reading Them
by Alba Machado

Page and StageA lot of people who know how to write a good story don’t know how to tell a good story. If you are Toni Morrison or José Saramago, then sure, there’s a good chance your audience will hang on your every word no matter how lifeless your delivery may be, its adoration assured by your tremendous body of Nobel prize-winning work. But if you are a relatively unknown writer taking to the stage in search of a wider readership, your words alone will not be enough. Minds will wander. Smiles will be empty. Applause will be merely polite. After all, when you are reading to an audience that is physically present, you are reading with your entire body—your posture, movement, gesture, facial expression, eye contact, tone of voice, inflection—and if you are just standing there and dictating lines from a page, then on some level you are conveying boredom and lack of conviction. You are saying, “I don’t care about this. Maybe you shouldn’t care, either.”

This Sunday, June 8th, at the 30th annual Printers Row Lit Fest, you can walk from one tent where an author is reading to another tent where an author is performing and you can easily gauge each audience’s level of engagement. There’s no contest. At the former, there is silence and stillness, maybe an occasional nod. At the latter, there is gasping and laughter, cheering and chills. And at the RedEye tent, you can start to discover why. That’s where The Encyclopedia Show’s Robbie Telfer, Story Club’s Dana Norris, and Guts & Glory’s Keith Ecker are talking to RedEye, Metromix, and WGN Radio’s Amy Guth in a panel discussion entitled “Page Meets Stage: How to Use Performance to Enhance Your Writing Career.”

“People who are at live lit are not there to see a specific writer,” says Telfer. “They’re not Joyce Carol Oates-ing it.”

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Coming of Age in Chicago Live Lit: An Interview with Xavier Jordan
by Alba Machado

Xavier Jordan

PHOTO COURTESY OF HERE, CHICAGO

Sometime in February, I braved the cold and snow to see Xavier Jordan tell a story at the Jazz Showcase. It was a true story about someone who is a school teacher and also a horrible person. He reveals himself to be a horrible person through a series of escalating incidents, starting with kicking a student out of his class for sneezing. Now, four months later, that story continues to stay with me. Of course, it’s not surprising that a story told by one of Chicago’s live lit performers is memorable. What is surprising is that this storyteller is seventeen years old. You may know a number of teenagers who can spin a hell of a good yarn. I certainly do. But how many of them tell stories on stage alongside local literary celebrities? Xavier Jordan is one of a kind. The son of The Moth Grand Slam Champion Lily B, he has come of age at the epicenter of the live lit movement and has performed at a variety of the city’s reading series so many times that everyone has lost count. He’ll be leaving Chicago for college come summer’s end, returning to perform only during breaks. But he’s a tireless storyteller, so keep an eye on the calendar for show announcements or come out to the Printers Row Lit Fest this weekend, where he’s featured at a special installment of Stoop-Style Stories taking place at the Guild Literary Complex tent at Dearborn and Polk on Sunday at 11am. This week, he performed at The LitMash on Monday, graduated from high school on Tuesday, and got together with me for an interview at Fabcakes on Wednesday. We ate triple berry cheesecakes because, as he put it, “Why would anyone get raspberry cheesecake when you can get triple berry cheesecake?” Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,