The Block Muse

Jackalope: A Living Newspaper

In its 5th installment, Jackalope Theatre proudly partners with Northwestern University's Block Museum, inspired by the themes of the current exhibit, "The Left Front: Radical Art in the Red Decade". Playwrights, directors, and actors from Chicago partner with Northwestern student actors to present 4 new 10-minute plays inspired by stories from today's headline news. 


Women on Walls 
by Ike Holter
directed by AJ Ware 

by Andrew Burden Swanson 
directed by Nate Silver 

The Logo on the Sbarro Cup
by Tony Werner 
directed by Thrisa Hodits 

Filtered Through the Kaleidoscope of a Beyonce Addiction 
by Calamity West 
directed by Elana Boulos 


Roy Gonzalez
Mallory Nees
Drew Guerra
Jennifer Betancourt 
Mari Uchida
Sarah Case
Caroline Henry
Michael Silberblatt
Maddy Low
Kyra Jones
Jared Sprowls
Braden Coucher 
Emcee: Kevin Matthew Reyes 


Mary and Leigh Block Museum, Northwestern University 

April 3- 6:00pm 
April 5- 5:00pm 

In the 1930s, a new form of theater reached America: The Living Newspaper. Originally funded by Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration, theaters across the country dramatized events ripped, quite literally, from the headlines. Notoriously left-leaning and with a tendency to give voice to America's voiceless, controversy over the plays' ideology contributed to the disbanding of the Federal Theatre Project in 1939. Spurred by the shouts of our predecessors, Jackalope Theatre began our own annual Festival in 2009, and have since utilized over 100 playwrights, directors, actors, and designers to bring the stories from our nation's front pages to life on stage. We proudly collaborate with The Left Front exhibit to draw parallels between the struggles of the American people from yesterday's Depression to today's Recession and beyond.


The Left Front: Radical Art in the “Red Decade,” 1929–1940 revisits a moment in U.S. cultural history when visual artists joined forces to form a “left front” to make socially conscious art. In the wake of the 1929 Wall Street Crash and at the start of the Great Depression, artists and writers founded the John Reed Club (JRC), which spread to more than thirty chapters nationwide. Named after the journalist who witnessed the 1917 Russian Revolution, the JRC brought together such artists as Isabel Bishop, Stuart Davis, William Gropper, Rockwell Kent, and Chicagoan Morris Topchevsky—embraced the motto “art as a social weapon” and rejected the idea that “the artist can remain remote from the historic conflicts in which all men must take side.” They took their message to the streets—marching, boycotting, picketing, and teaching—while also organizing exhibitions and publishing their artworks.

The Left Front explores the context and legacies of the JRC and its successor organization, the American Artists’ Congress (AAC) in the 1930s.