New theater company debuts in Highland Park
Benita Haberman of Vernon Hills (from left), Susan Block of Highland Park and Donna Lubow of Riverwoods, with, (not pictured) Rick Leslie of Highland Park are the Short Story Theatre. | J.Geil ~ For Sun-Times Media
Short Story Theatre
Vibe, 1935 Sheridan Road, Highland Park
7 p.m. May 30
Admission is free
Call (847) 432-6663 to reserve a table
Updated: May 22, 2012 8:36PM
There’s something about the ancient art of story-telling that simply will not go away.
It’s been a draw as long as there have been campfires — and people brave enough to stand up and rap about whatever comes to mind. Hunting mastodons, wrangling with mothers-in-law, and such.
As evidence, we can
point to the fact that the story-telling tradition is
still going strong and in theatrical circles, with performers re-telling classic folk-tales and offering a few of their own for consideration.
The latter is what you can expect when Short Story Theatre, a newly formed troupe of local writer/performers, including Donna Lubow of Riverwoods, Susan Block of Highland Park, and Benita Haberman of Vernon Hills, makes its debut at 7 p.m. May 30 in the Vibe restaurant and bar in Highland Park.
“I think the thing that has always appealed to people about story-telling is the idea of shared experience in life,” said Lubow, a veteran stage director who co-founded the Attic Playhouse and the Highland Park Players, among many other credits. “There’s something about a good story that connects people. “That’s always been true, since the beginning of time. It’s an ancient art that’s been renewed.”
Lubow became interested in story-telling when she saw her brother Rick Leslie of Highland Park (a retired ad man and network TV producer) on stage with Chicago’s Second Story troupe performing a story he’d written about their father’s experience in Nagasaki, Japan, just after World War II. After seeing her brother’s performance with Block, Lubow said they all realized: “We should do this in the suburbs, because there’s nothing like it outside of the city.”
The fledgling troupe agreed on criteria similar to the ones Leslie had followed for Second Story. The stories they would perform should be true (“Well, more or less true,” Lubow laughed), written in first person, scene-driven with dialogue included, with some sort of moral (“Not necessarily a life lesson learned, but something people can relate to”), read-aloud in performance style, and under 10 minutes in length.
The program includes Leslie, who will again perform his father’s Nagasaki story, and Block, who recalls her own father’s attitudes toward virginity, Lubow’s own story about the way religious traditions in her family skipped a generation from her devout grandparents to her own children, and Haberman’s reminiscences about Bad Teachers She Has Known.
Haberman, a professional speechwriter and public speaker who also writes an autobiographical comic blog at benita-houseofmirrors.blogspot.com, says she has been regaling her own kids for years about how they’ve had it easy when it comes to educators.
“Haberman regaled them with tales of her formative years in the 1960s Chicago public school system. “Your teachers are young and full of energy and passion. I had old people who couldn’t wait to be far away from us,” she said.
“I had a first-grade teacher,” she recalled. “You know those little round metal garbage cans they always had in the classrooms? She got mad at a kid once and put him in the garbage can. She actually threw a kid into the trash. Which is not good for a kid’s self-esteem.”
Yet all these years later, the woman stands as a good example of bad teaching — and a great story.