Studs in Chicago’s RhinoFest

This weekend marks the opening of Chicago’s 26th Annual RhinoFest, the “longest-running multi-arts fringe festival in Chicago.”  “Terkelogues,” a show featuring content from Studs’s interviews with comedian/actor Zero Mostel and painter Gertrude Abercrombie, can be seen Sunday, January 25 at 7pm and Sunday, February 8 at 3pm.  As is fitting for a festival that takes place each year in January and February, “Terkelogues” considers blizzards, power failures, being ill and stuck in bed – and the inefficiency and liberation that accompany a snow day.  The play is co-directed by our own Tony Macaluso, the Director of the Studs Terkel Radio Archive.

Gertrude Abercrombie was a Chicago native.  She got her start painting with the Federal Arts Project, and continued to work in a surrealistic style until her death in 1977.  She was great friends with many jazz artists, including Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Jackson; Richie Powell’s “Gertrude’s Bounce” was written about her.  Zero Mostel, perhaps best known for his Tony Award-winning portrayal of Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” was interviewed by Studs Terkel in 1961 when he was in Chicago as part of the Broadway cast of Eugene Ionesco’s “Rhinocerous,” (in another Tony-Award winning role).  The production took a four-week break from Broadway and came to Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Playhouse.  How fitting that the interview will now be a part of Chicago’s own RhinoFest.

For additional information about the production, you can read Thomas Willis’s article in the Chicago Tribune from August 6, 1961.  And of course you can listen to the Mostel interview below.  Hope to see you at RhinoFest!

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Theater and Thanksgiving

Congratulations to the cast, musicians, crew, and faculty team behind ChiArts’ production of “Working”!  What a show!  We truly heard America singing – a creative, youthful, diverse, and dedicated America – and it was an honor and a pleasure.  After visiting your school earlier this month we all expected a stellar show, but you still managed to blow us away!  The music, singing, and dancing was excellent, of course, but we were most touched by the poise and maturity the cast showed in portraying individuals whose stories were often quite different from their own.  It demonstrated a great respect for the original interviewees’ words and experiences.

Finally, your production was a timely reminder that although we are all unique individuals with stories to tell, we all are a part of a community that is greater than ourselves.  You showed us the very best of what America can be, thank you.  Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

And remember, tune in to WFMT 98.7 this Friday at 10:00 pm (or stream live) to hear a rebroadcast of Studs’s 1973 tribute to Thanksgiving.




photo credits: Allison Schein


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To the ChiArts cast of “Working”

Dear Students,

Steve, Tony, Allison, Rowan, and I had a great time meeting with you last week.  Your enthusiasm about Studs’s words and your own interpretations of them was truly inspiring!  I also want to thank you for being so open and honest with us about your experience.  Although a theatrical performance is naturally a community event, being a part of a cast can sometimes feel very intimate or exclusive, and we are grateful for the insights you were willing to share with us.

Speaking of sharing – I would like to again extend an invitation to you to contribute to this blog.  I would love to post anything that was inspired by your experience in “Working,” whether it is a written piece, a film or recording, a piece of visual art, or even a brand new interview (perhaps featuring an artist or a drug dealer!).  If you have any questions, please get in touch with me at

The team and I wish you all the best with your performance this weekend (I’m really looking forward to seeing it!) and with your future theatrical and academic pursuits.

Break a leg!

Grace (and the entire Studs team)


Using the Studs Terkel Radio Archive in the Classroom (part 2)

In a world where we are constantly bombarded by an ever-changing, impermanent parade of sound bites, memes, video clips, and “breaking news” ticker tape, taking sixty minutes to listen to an interview can feel like a major time commitment.  For those of us who remember when the world was a little slower, it means rediscovering how to sit quietly and focus on something that does not scroll, beep, refresh, or show videos of really cute baby animals.  And for those of us who don’t remember that world, it may mean learning a new way of hearing and processing information.  Not an easy task.

And yet, as we’ve mentioned before on this blog, we are strongly committed to introducing Studs’s work to a new, young audience.  Continue reading →

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