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Chicago Humanities Festival

Jessye Norman: "Stand Up Straight and Sing!"

4,004 views 1 month ago
Opera legend Jessye Norman comes to Chicago to share her extraordinary journey from a childhood in segregated Augusta, Georgia, to star of the world's grandest stages. Her memoir "Stand Up Straight and Sing!" deepens our appreciation for her stunning musical gifts. Get up close and personal with one of history's greatest singers.

Opera dramaturg Colin Ure joins Ms. Norman in conversation.

This program is presented in partnership with Lyric Unlimited—an initiative of Lyric Opera of Chicago—and the School of the Art Institute.

This program was recorded on May 19, 2014 as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival's Spring 2014 season: http://chf.to/CHF2014Spring Show less
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2014 - Winter & Spring Programs Play

See all the programs from our Winter 2014 season here: http://chf.to/CHF2014Winter
See all the programs from our Spring 2014 season here: http://chf.to/CHF2014Spring

Stages, Sights & Sounds Play

Stages, Sights & Sounds is Chicago's only international children's theater festival: http://chicagohumanities.org/stages

Stages, Sights & Sounds brims with possibilities, offering lively theatrical and hands-on experiences for every age. You can see performers from faraway countries and also discover Chicago gems. You can find inspiration in stories classic and new told through puppetry, theater, words, and pictures.

2013 - Animal: What Makes Us Human Play

Are humans animals? Not long ago, the question produced a predictable standoff. Now it is the start of a fascinating conversation.
The 24th Chicago Humanities Festival takes this new exchange of ideas out of the academy and into the public. We explore what it means to think about culture biologically, about biology culturally, and about the human-animal relationship beyond the science/humanities divide. In presenting the most cutting-edge work on this subject, Animal gives us a whole new perspective on our world and ourselves. Most important, though, it gives us new answers to the oldest and most fundamental question in the humanities: What makes us human?
http://chf.to/2013Animal

2012 - America Play

America. It is a loaded word. It is geography as well as terra firma; it is history, memory, aspirations, a destination—a physical place as well as a repository of dreams and beliefs that tug at people from all over the world.

But when we at CHF say America, what do we mean?

The 2012 festival will explore the many meanings of America, both at home and abroad. We will debate the great American novel and celebrate jazz and the American song book, shine a spotlight on American visual artists and honor the American philosophical tradition. And we will look at America from abroad, tracing the history of its meanings from Columbus to Kafka and locating its place in the world today. We will think about the Americas and the West. And we will contemplate our ever-increasing diversity in the context of the American history of immigration.

2011 - tech•knowledgē Play

Human experience is inextricably linked to technology. At its root is the impulse to craft a better, easier, more informed life. From the creation of stone tools to the development of the printing press, the assembly line, and the microprocessor, technology is the expression of human ingenuity and a catalyst for the next big idea.

How has technological innovation shaped history and human creativity? Join us as leading thinkers of all stripes wrestle with big questions.

2010 - The Body Play

The Body.
As ideas go, The Body just grows and grows, ramifying in every conceivable direction. There's birth and death, gender and race, masculine/feminine, illness and health (this past year, as it turns out, having been quite the year to have been thinking about health and how to insure it). There's mind and body—now that's a problem from way back, would make a great novel (and has!)—and body and soul. There's the song "Body and Soul." There's dance—and this seemed a good year to get out there and really highlight and celebrate the physical arts—and there's sport. Somehow we even managed to net ourselves Kareem Abdul-Jabbar! There's the Body Perfect, and then the Norm, and then outside or beyond the norm—but who's to say what's one and what's the other?

There are the Five Senses. And Our Bodies, Ourselves. There's the body isolate, but there's also the body / politic: the body long having provided a metaphor for the wider public constituency—all the way back to Plato and Buddha and Jesus (and Sophocles and Shakespeare and Auden and countless others). The well-regulated body, the properly framed consti-tution, and, conversely, the body careening out of control. And don't forget how when Adam Smith set out to chronicle the Wealth of Nations, he consciously modeled his investigations on William Harvey's seminal explorations of the circulation of blood from a few generations earlier.

Seminal and semen, cerebral and cereal, genius and genes. Conception: quite the concept! Don't get us started.

2009 - Laughter Play

November 2009 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Chicago Humanities Festival, and to celebrate, your trusty gremlins here at Fort Humane have been busy fashioning something special, a season entirely given over to the theme of Laughter. Not "Happiness," mind you: happiness is smug and bland and self-satisfied. Laughter, on the other hand, runs the gamut: from blithe to bitter, raucous to subdued, fond to angry, knowing to clueless, high to low, broad to pinprick-specific. Its history wends back past Aristophanes and Job (the comedy of suffering, after all) on up through Mozart and Molière, and then right up to the present—please understand that around here we think of Samuel Beckett as one of the funniest playwrights of the 20th century.

There are all the different ethnic and cultural shadings of laughter: African American, Jewish, Irish, Russian, Persian, Chinese, Latino, and on and on—each with its own knotty tradition, and its airy cross-pollinations. Laughter has its vexations: battles around political correctness and totalitarian suppression. There is gallows humor and Gaelic humor. Psychologists, anthropologists, economists, philosophers, and historians all have their two cents to offer. As of course do artists, from New Yorker cartoonists through the latest crop of graphic novelists. Modern theater traces its roots back to mime and commedia dell'arte, and we will, too. Stand-up, sit- down, sleight of hand, slapstick Borscht Belt through flouncy vaudeville. The sound of laughter, from Mendelssohn through John Adams. And vintage screen comedy, from Buster Keaton (who we will be considering alongside Wittgenstein, naturally) through Cantinflas and Harpo Marx. With presenters as various as Jules Feiffer, Dick Gregory, Matt Groening, Lynda Barry, Harold Ramis, Simon Schama, Sarah Jones, Billy Collins, Kay Ryan, Sandra Tsing Loh, Robert Reich, Don Byron channeling Mickey Katz, Ian Frazier, Margo Jefferson, John Hodgman, and dozens more.

And where better to do all this than in Chicago, incubator and home to some of the most influential improvisatory comedy around? (Don't even get us started on Second City and its many progeny.) Midtown, of course, but with a special day in Hyde Park, and a gala given over to celebrating those divinely paired cut-ups, Rich and Barbara Franke, godparents to the entire 20-year CHF parade.

So, yeah, Laughter, you betcha: we stand ready to pitch our antic glee against any depression the gods seem intent on sending us.
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