Second City training pioneer Jo Forsberg dies at 90

Josephine Raciti Forsberg, photo couresy of Eric Forsberg

Chicago improv legend Josephine Raciti Forsberg passed away at age 90 on Oct. 3. Forsberg was present at the birth of what became the Second City, working with its earliest predecessor, the Playwrights Theatre Club.

She taught workshops with Viola Spolin; produced and directed the Children’s Theatre at the Second City for decades; and also taught at the Players Workshop, a forerunner of the current Second City Training Center.
 
Among the many artists and teachers Forsberg influenced are George Wendt, Harold Ramis, Bonnie Hunt, Bill Murray (to whom she gave a scholarship in return for his painting her house purple), and her own late nephew, Martin de Maat, who was artistic director for the Training Center.

She is survived by her son, filmmaker Eric Forsberg of the Syfy cable network; her daughter, City Colleges of Chicago theatre professor Linnea Forsberg; and two grandchildren. Condolences to her family and many friends and former students.

A memorial for Forsberg, open to all, will be held at Second City e.t.c. on Saturday, October 8, 2-5 p.m.

3ARTS ANNOUNCES this year’s recipients of the annual 3Arts Awards. Among the honorees are two actors: Kareem Bandealy, an ensemble member with American Theater Company, and Jacqueline Williams, who has been seen for many years in shows from Steppenwolf to the Goodman to the Court, where her performance in August Wilson’s Fences won a 2006 Equity Jeff Award. Longtime costume designer Alison Siple, a vet of Lookingglass Theatre and the Hypocrites among many others, also takes home the unrestricted grant of $15,000. The awards are geared toward supporting women, artists of color, and artists with disabilities.
 
ARTISTS WITH DISABILITIES – specifically, multiple sclerosis — are also the focus of the Mookie Jam Foundation, founded by actor Mierka Girten, an ensemble member with A Red Orchid Theatre who has fought MS herself. (Girten documented her struggle with the disease in her solo show With or Without Wings.) This year’s Mookie Jam honoree is Amanda Delheimer, a teaching artist and the artistic director of the spoken-narrative series “2nd Story.”

A party and performance extravaganza to raise funds for Delheimer and alleviate some of the financial stress of living with MS takes place on Monday at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., 7-10 p.m. Tickets are $50-$100 at 773/977-8121.
 
CONGRATS TO TIMELINE THEATRE, honored by the American Theatre Wing with a $10,000 National Theatre Company Grant in recognition as one of the nation’s ten most promising emerging theatres. They’ll pick up the check and the plaudits at an awards ceremony in New York on October 24.
 
LONG-RUNNING LATE-NIGHT HIT The Game Show Show … and Stuff!, which started out with Strawdog Theatre Company back in 2006 and has since been at the old Lakeshore Theater and the Chopin, gets a commercial extended run at the Mercury Theater on selected Fridays and Saturdays at 11 p.m. October 14-December 31.

The run comes courtesy of Damian Arnold and The British Stage Company, and will star regulars Anderson Lawfer, James Anthony Zoccoli (or “JAZ”), and the “Show, Show, Show Girls,” Nikki Klix and Anne Sheridan Smith, in a combination of audience-participation games, songs, dance, comedy, and assorted good-natured jackassery for fun and prizes. For info and reservations, call 773/325-1700.
 
ON A SLIGHTLY MORE high-brow note, Sean Graney’s reworked Sophoclean smorgasbord of all the ancient’s extant scripts, Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses, which runs through October 23 with the Hypocrites, will get a Manhattan run under the moniker These Seven Sicknesses with the Flea Theater in January. Ed Iskander directs.
 
FINALLY, we move from the hubris of the ancients to the conflicts of right now: Free Street Theater brings HBO Def Poet Paul Flores in for one blistering performance of his solo show about the battles over urban gentrification, You’re Gonna Cry, which features spoken word, video, and “a gangster puppet show” in a portrait of San Francisco’s vibrant Mission District.

Young performers/writers Jose Olivarez, Malikah Saunders, and fellow HBO Def Poet Roger Bonair-Agard join Flores on October 14, 7 p.m., at the Free Street Theater, 1419 W. Blackhawk. Tickets are $10-$15 online or at 773/772-7248.
 
Don’t make me cry: Send your tips and tidbits to kerryreid@comcast.net.

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