“We really make it as diverse as possible,” says Corey Spruill, artistic co-director of Artist Gumbo. Artist Gumbo is not an open mic series. It is a uniquely Chicago project promoting strategically selected local artists, performers and musicians. Artist Gumbo is a monthly series showcase of Chicago talent highlighting a variety of distinct and diverse talent every last Tuesday of the month at Black Rock Pub in Chicago’s northside.
Artist Gumbo is put together by Corey Spruill & Richard Irwin Miller, Artistic Directors for Dramatis Personae. Gumbo is a mix of diverse artists in a wide range of mediums from all over the city presenting something new and exciting. Helping co-produce the event is The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship.
“That’s why we call it gumbo,” Spruill specifies on the range of Artist Gumbo’s lineups, “we have a wide array of themes, a little something for everyone. Sort of like a theater company giving voice to people you don’t usually hear, or see together on one stage. We want to give a voice and space to a multicultural community,” Corey explains. Artist gumbo hand tailors its monthly line up of varied demographics and backgrounds. Last month’s Artist Gumbo showcased The Luna Blues Machine, a clarinetist, a spoken word artist, and the African drum and dance group Moya.
Spruill describes the mission and spirit of Artist Gumbo as somewhat avante garde but rooted in a desire to bring different communities, performers and people together. “As a theater company, we didn’t specifically know who our audience [is]. We didn’t want to create a niche audience. We wanted to grow and give ourselves a name and create that attachment.”
Artist Gumbo strives to “create community and highlight Chicago talent.” This up and coming theater company wishes to create “community and collaborate with other Chicago theater group. Artist Gumbo represents a distinctly Chicago points of view, and provides a space to let people tell their stories in a diverse light. We want to give everyone a face shot in Chicago. Since Chicago is so neighborhood based [or segregated], we want to open up Chicago as a community. Since we are mainly all theater people, instead of going out there and marching, we believe art can bring different groups together and raise awareness.”
Corey Spruill of Virginia Beach, Virginia went to Virginia Commonwealth University and moved to Chicago 5 years ago, with degree in theater. Artist Gumbo began in 2008 out of Guerilla Tango. Corey notes the specific urgency and political pull that undertones the make up of Artist Gumbo’s vision:
“Working as theater artist in this town for 5 years, you know there are not that many opportunities for minority artists. Here in Chicago everything is very separate. It’s such a large city. My whole point was to provide a space to share and hear minority voices, Latino, African American, Asian etc. Not strictly doing only Latino theater, or Black theater, but to have these different people involved onstage and behind scenes. We wanted to mix up stage theater to encompass real music, bands, art and all different genres and especially diverse people. We want to do multicultural, multi-genre theater.”
Dramatist Persona the non-profit theater company that promotes and created Artist Gumbo strives to highlight theatrical elements and portions of their own productions in Artist Gumbo’s line up for the future and provide a new space for local artists. “This isn’t a new idea,” Correy poignantly admits, “but, we’re excited to see how the theater community will take us in. If you cross breed Teatro Vista, Cango Square, and put them together with Remy Bumpo, we’d be the baby out of that coming into Chicago.”
Tues. April 27, 2010 Line-up:
Beth Stelling – Stand Up comic
Brett Schneider – professional magician
Blackout – Improv Troupe
Dharmesh Bhagat – Juggler
LFT – Pilsen band plays original songs (Latin, reggae, rock, poetry)
Existential Crisis – Sketch Duo
& a performance excerpt from Aaron May’s play The Sons of Tennessee performed by Corey Spruill, Richard Irwin Miller, and Cheyenne Pinson
The event is held at:
Black Rock Pub
3614 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
$5 suggested donation.