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Three alumni's fledging Chicago theatre company takes off

Three alumni's fledging Chicago theatre company takes off

University of Illinois Theatre alumni Julian Parker, Tyrone Phillips and Mercedes White certainly knew there were plenty of theater companies in Chicago.

But after they and three other graduates of the UI's bachelor's of fine arts degree program moved to Chicago, they went ahead anyway and founded the Definition Theatre Company.

And like most troupes without a home of their own, when it comes to rehearsals, "We rent a space. We find a space. We use a space. We borrow a space," said Phillips, the group's artistic director.

Currently, though, he, Parker and White have a rather nice space in which to rehearse — Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

The trio has returned to its alma mater to partner with Illinois Theatre, the producing arm of the UI Department of Theatre, to present "The Brothers Size," opening tonight at Krannert's Studio Theatre, as well as a festival of short plays, most written by UI theater alumni.

Phillips, Parker and White are familiar with "The Brothers Size." They acted in the three-character play in a workshop production in April 2012 at the UI's Armory Free Theatre.

Later, as the Definition Theatre Company's inaugural production in June 2012 in Chicago, they portrayed the three characters again.

UI theater Professor Kathleen Conlin directed the two earlier productions and is helming "Brothers Size" a third time for Illinois Theatre.

Conlin, who is retiring from the university in a few days, said the production is deepening since they first started working on it.

"As we're all maturing — all of us — I think we're coming up with a new perspective, especially as to the inter-relationships within the family," she said during a break in rehearsals last week.

"The play hits every family deeply — that's what's really at the core," she said.

Illinois Theatre describes "The Brothers Size" as "a hot-blooded, music-filled drama" that tells of two Louisiana brothers — Ogun (Phillips) and Oshoosi Size (Parker) — and Oshoosi's former jailmate Elegba (White).

Read more at the News-Gazette.

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