Michael Shannon, Achy Obejas, Alex Kotlowitz, Paul Brittain, Zach Wahls on tap for the Paper Machete
Since January 2010, former TOC Theater editor Christopher Piatt has curated and hosted a weekly "live magazine" he calls the Paper Machete. "The concept is loosely based on the WPA Federal Theater Project's 'Living Newspaper' plays," Piatt says—lavish, large-cast info-pageants, "constructed by newspapermen and dramatists, most of whom left the relief rolls to become temporary artistic government employees."
For the Machete, Piatt brings together journalists, theater artists, authors, comedians, musicians and other bon vivants to hold forth on the news of the day. "Each Saturday it's a different batch of people, most of them reading citizens' essays, giving speeches or doing comedy bits about current events and culture. Plus, we sometimes have cool bands when we can get them to show up," he says
A "salon in a saloon," as Piatt calls it, the Machete usually takes the form of a free event at Lincoln Square's, Saturdays at 3pm. As it approaches the ripe old age of one and a half, the Machete's confirmed some high-profile guests in the coming weeks. While acknowledging that it's "an act of incest so prurient and public it basically puts us on par with British royalty," Piatt gave me a sneak peek at the slate.
May 28: A Red Orchid Theatre ensemble member, Oscar-nominated actor and impending Zod Michael Shannon; Havana-born Chicago writer Achy Obejas; Stephanie Diaz Reppen; Dennis O'Toole; ; Mierka Girten and Lance Baker in a radio play; musical guest Brandon Thompson; the Machete's in-house film critic Chad the Bird (puppeteer Josh Zagoren)
June 4: No show due to
June 11: Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here and Never a City So Real; newly-sworn-in 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar; Kim Bellware; Shannon Casson; Ricardo Gamboa; Claire Zulkey; Scott Smith; musical guests Baron Von Something
June 18: Saturday Night Live featured player listen to his July 17, 2010 Machete appearance as "Sex" Ed Vincent here); Schadenfreude's Kate James; the Encyclopedia Show's Jilted Emily Rose; Steve Waltien; a radio play written and performed by Strange Tree Group's Nancy Friedrich and Emily Schwartz; more TBA, returning to the Paper Machete for the first time since joining SNL last fall (
June 25: Allison Cuddy, host of WBEZ's Eight-Forty-Eight; University of Iowa student and newly-minted marriage-equality activist ; David Cerda (The Joans, Hell in a Handbag Productions' Trogg! A Musical) as Joan Crawford; more TBA