Dr. Desirée McMillion’s AFRO 382 – African American Families in Film course, had the privilege of a full two hour discussion with Director, Chuck Smith of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Mr. Smith shared his life story on becoming a well-known director and his connection with Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. “Gem of the Ocean” - part of August Wilson’s American Century Cycle, Illinois Theatre’s production is directed by long-time Wilson collaborator Mr. Chuck Smith and features a newly choreographed and composed City of Bones section in collaboration with Dance at Illinois. The performance takes us back to 1904, Pittsburgh, where a formerly enslaved woman Aunt Ester holds the African American community together. Aunt Ester is a soul washer, restoring the spiritual balance of troubled individuals. Her powers and community are tested when newcomer Citizen Barlow refuses to accept responsibility for his actions. The students witnessed a performance of a life time, an amazing collaboration with African American Studies and Dance Assistant Professor C. Kemal Nance and Endalyn Taylor (Dance) as choreographer(s) in October of 2019.
Image Credit: Ms. Crystal Womble
Pictured: Director Chuck Smith, Dr. Desirée McMillion, and students of the University of Illinois