The Nation of Heat
Written by Tony Fitzpatrick (with Stan Klein)
Diverse storytellers regale us with playfully nostalgic tales of their fathers
|16th Street Theater and Firecat Projects presents|
|Nickel History: The Nation of Heat|
Review by Katy Walsh
In 2010, Tony Fitzpatrick drove This Train (our review) with in-your-face blustery arrogance. In 2011, a contemplative Fitzpatrick pulled into Stations Lost (review) with a companion and inspirational self discovery. Now, Fitzpatrick shares the stage with Stan Klein in a collaborative tribute to their dads in Nickel History.
16th Street Theater and Firecat Projects presents Nickel History: The Nation of Heat. Tony Fitzpatrick is an artist, a poet and an actor. And over the last three years, he combines all his passions into a vivid storytelling evening. In this third part of his trilogy, Fitzpatrick and his long-time friend, Stan Klein reflect on their dads. Fitzpatrick and Klein describe their fathers’ patriotic and conservative approach to raising sons. Nickel History: The Nation of Heat is a deconstruction of men’s lives through the lives of their sons.
The storytelling is a multi-media affair. On one level, Fitzpatrick and Klein verbally regale tales from their youth. Fitzpatrick confidently attacks the subject matter with zest. In contrast, Klein almost timidly approaches his recollections. The oddly paired friends effectively balance each other’s style. Fitzpatrick is broad-stroked abstract. Klein is paint-by-numbers neat. The diverse storytelling combo is effective in illustrating similarities and differences of men and sons. In addition, Fitzpatrick’s recorded voice narrates over a filmed montage of imagery and art, including Fitzpatrick’s own intense and edgy work. (As Tony’s dad says, ‘you’re not the guy who does flowers.’) Film/Video Artist Kristin Reeves pulls together an eclectic combination of folk art, real pictures and critter footage. In the room and on the screen, Carolyn Hoerdemann haunts the stage with a 1940’s look. She seems to be an apparition connecting the guys to their own past and their fathers’ pasts. On the right side of the stage, Musical Director John Rice and the talented Anna Fermin provide accompanying songs to establish mood or decade. The melodies add another layer of artistry making the overall experience a robust sensory compilation. Under the direction of Ann Filmer, the entire spectacle captivates with colorful connectivity to the puzzle-pieced entertainment.
Over the last three years, I feel I have been a spectator to the life journey of Tony Fitzpatrick. He has stayed true to his successful storytelling format while continuing to have dynamic content. This latest installment is double the stories with the addition of Stan Klein. Fitzpatrick continues to entertain and develop as an artist. His personal growth is evident throughout his trilogy. This show might be my favorite of the trio. Nickel History is playfully nostalgic.
Nickel History: The Nation of Heat continues through August 5th at Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted (map), with performances Thursdays-Fridays 8pm, Saturdays 5pm and 8:30pm, Sundays 7pm. Tickets are $27, and are available by phone (312-335-1650) or online through Steppenwolf.org (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More info here. (Running time: 1 hour 45 mintues, includes an intermission)
behind the scenes
Ann Filmer (director, adaptor); Kurt Sharp (set); Mac Vaughey (lighting); Barry Bennett (sound design); Jennifer Aparicio (stage manager); Marissa McKown (asst. director); Kristin Reeves (film and video art); Bruce Chudacoff (projections consultant)
3 Words: With his own remembrances of Tony’s childhood, Rick describes it with ‘complicated life affirming.’