Theater buffs and photography lovers are in for a treat when they visit this exhibit of 118 of Lisa Howe-Ebright’s photographs—selected from her vast archive—depicting scenes from plays staged at scores of Chicago venues from 1974 through the present. More than a vivid trip down memory lane, Howe-Ebright’s images are scenario photographs that stand for themselves as still dramas suffused with expressive emotion; one does not need to know the tales of which they are moments to dwell inside them. The secret of Howe-Ebright’s photographic success is her method of shooting dress rehearsals and pre-performance set-ups in which actors and directors collaborated with her in recreating the scenes, allowing her to have control over composition and content. Beginning with black and white, and then moving to color, Howe-Ebright changed her style simultaneously from clear portrayal to less delineated and more dynamic renditions that emphasize emotion. Her most telling image is from Columbia College’s 2008 production of “Landscape of the Body,” in which we see a knot of people encircling and bearing down on a kneeling woman who screams and holds out her hands, trying futilely to keep the crowd at bay. (Michael Weinstein)
Through October 3 at the Harold Washington Library, 400 South State.