Chi-Raq @ The Ross

Teyonah Parris as Lysistrata

Teyonah Parris as Lysistrata

Peace & Love … Afros & Rap … Feuds & Guns …
Young men & women
sportin’ colors
of purple and orange …
holding g r r r r u d g e s

Black mothers
shedding tears
holding posters
of the heads
of their slain
daughters & sons;

the spines of grown men
s h a t t e r e d from a bullet …
now ridin’ in wheelchairs on the concrete …


an insurance salesman
comin’ ‘round the ‘hood
confident of that signature on another policy
to cover the body of another baby boy … baby girl

What can the church give?
One thing is for sure: The undertaker
will have its due …

Put da Guns Down!
There’s blood flowin’
in the streets
in Chi-Raq

No Peace? No Piece!

Samuel L. Jackson as Dolmedes

Samuel L. Jackson as Dolmedes

Chi-Raq, the much-anticipated film by acclaimed director, Spike Lee, is powerful chaotic suspenseful raunchy bawdy and full of cussin’ n braggin’ — concern … all spoken in verse. Let me pause to give some background of the term. According to the Urban Dictionary, “Chiraq is a nickname given to America’s third largest city, Chicago . . . because there are more murders and violence that occur in Chicago than the war in Iraq.”

Chi-Raq …

The film is Lee’s adaption of the ancient Greek comedy, Lysistrata, written by Aristophenes. In that play, Lysistrata convinces the women of Greece to withhold sex until peace is negotiated between Athens and the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta.

In Chi-Raq, Lee sets the action in the city of Chicago’s southside, specifically in the neighborhood called Englewood. There, Lee dramatizes the everywhere presence of guns: in the club, on the street, in the house, in the bedroom, and the people who use them without caution …


Lysistrata (Parris) outlining her plan for No Peace? No Piece!

Lysistrata (Parris) outlining her plan for No Peace? No Piece!

Once a girl is hit by a bullet from a drive-by, Lysistrata, played with sass by Teyonah Parris, calls for the women in the community to shut down of sexual activity until peace is restored to the neighborhood. Nick Cannon plays Lysistrata’s boyfriend Chi-Raq, also known as Demetrius, a gun-totin’ but talented rapper who has to face his own truth and face the consequences. You will appreciate the performances by Wesley Snipes, Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, John Cusack, and Jennifer Hudson as they speak in verse to tell the story of lives in Chi-Raq.

Chi-Raq is ambitious and flawed, but Spike Lee shines when he demonstrates that gun violence is inherited by each generation to the next.

The Ross logo

Chi-Raq plays through January 21st at The Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

Also opening at The Ross is The Wonders, Alice Rohrwacher’s story of beekeepers living in isolation in the Tuscan countryside.

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