Matthew Elam on Late Company

My name is Matthew Elam. I am a member of the cast of Cor Theatre’s production “Late Company,” directed by Jessica Fisch. The focus of “Late Company” is a conservative politician and his wife, whose gay son has committed suicide. In an effort to work things out about a year after their son’s death, the family invites to dinner Curtis, the “bully” of their late son, along with his family. Things don’t go as smoothly as hoped.

Matthew Elam as Curtis

I am reaching out to you because, traditionally, the role of “Curtis” in the show is played by young white actors. In my research, I’ve gathered that this is the only production that has used a young black man for the role (myself) and a black woman for the role of his mother. As a black actor, it is important that I challenge the common narrative of blackness and showcase its wonderful diversity through economic, sociological, and political circumstances. This production is by no means put on to make a political statement. But I find that with my skin, at this time in history, it is nearly impossible for me to walk on that stage and expect an audience to not consider what it means in context for a person like me to occupy any space, let alone one with people that don’t look like me.

Due to the recent uproar and controversy with Race and Racism as it relates to reviews, we are having a difficult time getting The Chicago Tribune to review our show, and thus reaching the audience this show deserves.  Those of us who are part of the Theatre scene in Chicago know The Chicago Tribune is the “go to” when it comes to finding new work and spreading the word out to the Greater Chicago Area about what to go see and what not to go see in this city’s great Theatre landscape. I have no idea what the likelihood is of getting The Chicago Tribune to review one of our shows, but I do know that in the middle of all the things happening with reviews and the Chicago Theatre Community responding in the way that they have, you all can help me spread the word to a greater audience. This production will not fall on deaf ears, and it has not to those who already reviewed us. I can only hope that anything in this message has reached you enough to want to help me and the company at Cor, or put me in contact with the people who may want to get involved.

The ensemble at Cor Theatre puts a lot of their own money behind their productions and I, myself, am working for a small stipend solely because I love the art form and the company at Cor. I am not a member of the company, but I believe in what we are doing so much that I am more than willing to connect with anyone in an effort to get the word out and let them know what this production means to us. I, myself, will offer comp tickets for anyone who is interested in coming out.


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