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"Little Earthquakes" predicted for this weekend: a bucket list experience

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The Seeker and The Traveler present: “Little Earthquakes”, an evening of monologues exploring the human condition. The ten monologues range from a horny trolley driver and his familiar passenger to the riddle of a tranquil father and the mysteries of a metal merry-go-round. One man’s confrontation with morality and one woman’s confrontation with her man play out in story as told by Chicago actors.

At City Lit Theater this weekend only: 8:00 p.m. Friday, and Saturday, 3:00 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20 cash/$15 if you bring some new (unused winter gloves or a hat for a kid or teen. The donations of winter wear will go to local children and families in the Edgewater area through Care for Real.

The production promises a unique insight into the human condition, well worth shovelling out for.

My interview with Chicago playwright Paul Barile:

How did you get the idea for "Little Earthquakes"?

So there was once a man named James Tague. You really have to be a history nut to even know who this guy is – but he is one of three people who was injured by gun fire in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. Apparently – a stray bullet hit a curb ricocheting a chip of concrete into Tague’s cheek. He was just a guy trying to meet his buddy for lunch and he ends up with an insignificant injury that would change his life – immutably and forever.

The story is remarkable – but what was more remarkable for me was what could have happened to this guy who is in one of history’s most tragic triumvirates. The monologue “Little Earthquakes” is a completely fictional account of James Tague’s after the injury. I should also say that none of the events of the day even come into the script.

If we hadn’t shared the back story – no one would even know where it came from. In other words – you don’t need to know the back-story – to understand and enjoy the piece. It was just a bit of fortuitous inspiration.

Can you explain the title?

The real James Tague wrote books and had an interesting life forever linked to that earth shaking event. In my story – again purely fictional – his life becomes a series of little earthquakes. He drifts around the country working menial jobs and trying to stay out of trouble.

As our story opens, James has just gotten a job in a lumberyard and is about to face another little earthquake. This is one of two monologues in the show that has had a life for a while and was very instrumental in me putting this show together.

The other monologue that is being remounted is “There is Something About Henry” which was ostensibly written for the woman who will be performing it. She has performed it before and it is just a hoot.

Why monologues?

Combing those two monologues – and these two old friends who will perform them – the natural progression was to create a monologue show. I am a natural storyteller. That sounds kind of odd coming out of my mouth – but it is simply the truth.

My storytelling career dates back to my ability to turn and phrase and express an idea clearly enough – and with enough passion - that I could convince the Catholic school nuns to not whack me with a ruler. (Back then they were allowed to whack kids and I usually deserved it.) I wasn’t always successful in avoiding the ruler – but I did hone my craft on those hallowed halls.

The monologue – from a writer’s point of view - comes down to sharing a story without interference or interruption. From an actor’s point of view – it can be kind of daunting because it is just you and the words and the audience.

I wanted to push myself as a storyteller to see if these works can stand on their own. I wanted these actors to push themselves as artists to see that they could do this type of show. They could take someone else’s words and combine them with their craft and own an audience even if it just for three or five minutes.

What do you want audiences to remember about this production?

I want – first and foremost – to keep their programs and keep track of how quickly these actors attain the success they deserve. If I did a good job – I am the last person the audience should remember (and I am totally cool with that).

I want them to hold on to the feelings in their hearts and souls when the actors engage them – even if it is only two or three out of the ten.

Sure, I’d like my stories to hit a chord. I would love if someone saw this show and decided to pursue their own writing or acting. I want them to go away with the idea, “I can do that!”

It was that spirit that got me back on the wagon 13 years ago. I was a corporate entertainment journalist who was sitting through (sometimes) eight plays a week. After a while I decided I could do better.

My first play “The Bound Trilogy” was published by Original Works Publishing. I have had dozens of plays produced and published since then. My most recent publishing deal is my play “Great Land” which was published in 2013 by Off the Wall Plays.

I want “Little Earthquakes” to be the springboard for another writer/actor/director to emerge.

Why should audiences come to see this show?

Audiences should see this show because it is the best $20.00 they are going to spend on theater in 2014.

They should come and see this show because the cast and crew are all top-shelf people and they have been trudging through this recent/current blizzard to get to rehearsals. Their talent is only one element of who they are. They are dedicated and passionate and they will share themselves for three nights in a row. They are amazing people. There are some brand new people – some long-time cohorts – and some interesting reunions – but these 10 actors, two directors, and one stage manager are people who I respect and hope to work with again and again.

Another reason is that we are supporting a very special charitable organization. Care for Real has given us the opportunity to give back to the community. Schools and churches and the city do a lot for families in November and December when the holiday spirit is swirling around their hearts and heads. As we are learning (again) the weather in Chicago is unforgiving long after the tinsel is down and the crèches are packed away. We have to make sure that the kids get warm winter wear throughout the winter.

At the end of the day, theater in Chicago is lively – a vibrant art form that eclipses theater in any other city in the world. Off-loop Theater (Off-off-loop Theater) is where artists leave their pretentions at the door and give all. This show is no exception.

Are you still writing?

I am writing every day. I am currently working on a full-scale musical called “At the Blueberry Moon Café.” I have a novel coming out this spring “My Brother’s Hands” (Lexographic Press). I also maintain a poetry blog and a flash fiction blog. Finally there is an Italian Beef Blog. I am starting a fan fiction project combining music with writing based on The Blues Brothers. Writing is my passion. It is the idea of making something out of nothing. It all starts with a piece of paper and a pilot G-4 and it ends up with a kid getting a winter coat. (iampaulbarile.com)

What would be your own personal message to the world?

My message is that if we are blessed with talent – there is an obligation to use it to give something back to the community. We are our brothers’ keepers.

If all the world's a stage, what part would you play?

In a word; jester. It is my desire to make people feel good. I’ll do a pratfall as quickly as I’ll pen a ditty.
If I make you happy – if my patter is snappy – my poetry sappy – you won’t feel trappy – just come enjoy the show! Don’t be afraid; they’re only words.

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