A large portion of Arena this month is devoted to a fall theatre preview, researched and written by Catey Sullivan, Chicago’s theatre reporter. One article in the preview picks ten promising upcoming shows, culled from the hundreds that will be staged. “It’s just one person’s opinion,” says Sullivan, “albeit one really educated theatre person’s opinion.” Her education comes from attending as many as six shows a week, though lately she’s instituted a personal rule of not seeing two shows on the same day. “At even the worst of the worst of the worst, I always end up learning something,” Sullivan says.
“That first roll of film is always the hardest,” says BRIAN KUHLMANN, who shot the picture of the actress Molly Brennan that opens Arena this month. Before photographer and subject trust each other, there’s a period of awkwardness. On the shoot with Brennan, the pictures came alive once she started improvising with props, such as her bike helmet, a trench coat, and a top hat. Kuhlmann’s portfolio varies widely, from editorial work to high-profile advertisements, including shots of Tiger Woods for Buick and Kimora Lee Simmons for the “Got Milk?” campaign. “Interaction with people is the common theme in everything,” he says.
For “Double Play” in Arena this month, JEFF SCIORTINO shot the austere black-and-white photos of actors in fall theatre performances with their directors. “It was a ton of fun to see how these teams work together and feed off each other’s energy,” says Sciortino, a frequent contributor to Chicago. Compared with some of his other projects for this magazine—in July 2007, for example, he re-created movie scenes with elaborate sets—the portraits this month are set against a simple black backdrop, the better to focus attention on the faces of the subjects. “This is directed by the people, by who they are, as opposed to the concept. This is more intimate,” he says. Sciortino’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Fortune.
“The first thing I did was find it,” says GEOFFREY JOHNSON, the writer of this month’s Reporter column, “Dead Reckoning,” the story of a legal dispute pitting O’Hare Airport’s planned expansion against the next of kin of those buried in St. Johannes Cemetery. Johnson, a senior editor at Chicago, made wrong turns among hulking backhoes and mounded dirt, finally finding the cemetery next to a FedEx hangar. In researching the article, Johnson brushed against the story of the cemetery’s associated church, which was picked up and relocated just like one of the old Chicago houses he discussed in Battle of the Ages in the December 2007 issue. “I’m the magazine’s buildings-put-on-wheels-and-moved-elsewhere correspondent,” he says.
Where to Get Stuff Fixed, this month’s cover story, pegs the current cultural moment, says REBECCA LITTLE, who researched and wrote the article. “It’s green, it’s economical, and most of the firms on the list are locally owned,” she says. “It’s a trifecta of feel-good consumerism.” Little points readers toward repair shops to handlean atticful of items, including stone, porcelain, cameras, musical instruments, skateboards, clocks, mirrors, hats, vintage radiators, and typewriters. “I have no ability to fix anything, which is why I need this list,” she says. “I need to outsource my problems.”
Photography: (Sullivan) Jonathan Willoughby, (Kuhlmann) © Brian Cirar, (Little) Chris Guillen