(VIDEO) Columbia College Chicago Theatre Dept. Hosts Alumni Event with Cast and Creative Team for ‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,’ Extended through May 19 at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre

From left: Darlene Jackson, Chuck Smith, Cristin Carole, Krystel V. McNeil, A.C. Smith. (Photo: Julie Lucas)

The Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department hosted a special event on Tuesday, April 16 – a panel discussion with members of the cast and creative team of the Goodman Theatre’s acclaimed production of August Wilson’s acclaimed drama Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. The speakers included Columbia College Theatre alums A.C. Smith ’86, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BA Program in Theatre, and Krystel V. McNeil ‘09, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BA Program in Acting. They were joined by their former Columbia College Theatre Department teacher, the show’s director Chuck Smith, a longtime Columbia College Theatre Department faculty member and, for 20 years, facilitator of the Theatre Department’s annual Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting. Also on the panel was Columbia College alum Cristin Carole MEd ’01, the show’s associate director, intimacy consultant, and choreographer; Carole is currently a student in the Columbia College Theatre Department’s Intimacy for Stage and Screen Graduate Certificate program. The conversation, including a Q&A with students attending the event, was moderated by Darlene Jackson, a creative industry liaison in the Columbia College Career Center.

Chuck Smith displays copies of the anthologies “Seven Black Plays: The Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting” (Northwestern University Press, 2004) and “Best Black Plays: The Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting” (Northwestern University Press, 2007). The books contain plays that won the Theodore Ward Competition for African American Playwriting at Columbia College Chicago. (Photo: Julie Lucas)

The panel discussion, which took place at the Getz Theatre Center of Columbia College, attracted an audience of Theatre Department students and faculty members.

Chuck Smith (Photo: Julie Lucas)

In an accessible and humorous style, Chuck Smith regaled the audience with tales from his extensive career.

Krystel V. McNeil and A.C. Smith (Photo: Julie Lucas)

A.C. Smith – a two-time winner of the Joseph Jefferson Award, Chicago’s top theatrical award, for his performances in plays by August Wilson – recounted his experiences bringing the works of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson to life onstage, many times under Chuck Smith’s direction. The two have built a personal friendship and have worked together professionally over the last 40 years — initially as a student and teacher, and later as an actor and mentor/director. This relationship exemplifies the unique opportunities available to Columbia students that prepare them for success in their chosen fields and beyond.

Cristin Carole, Krystel V. McNeil, and A.C. Smith (Photo: Julie Lucas)

McNeil, passionate about representation and storytelling, stressed the importance of taking risks and following artistic passions, while Carole provided insight into the growing field of intimacy direction for the stage and screen. 

(Photo: Julie Lucas)

Beyond personal anecdotes, the speakers offered crucial advice for aspiring theatre professionals as they responded to questions from the audience in a lively Q&A format. The panelists emphasized the importance of staying motivated, seizing opportunities, and building strong relationships within the competitive theatre community. Adaptability and a willingness to embrace new trends were also highlighted as essential for success in today’s ever-changing theatrical landscape.

Here is a video of the April 16 event:

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone has been extended through May 19 at the Goodman Theatre, located at 170 N. Dearborn in downtown Chicago’s Loop Theatre District. The production has received rave reviews from local critics, including the Chicago Tribune‘s Chris Jones, who singled out A.C. Smith’s performance when he referenced Smith’s long history of performing in August Wilson’s plays.

A.C. Smith (Photo: Julie Lucas)

“Smith is a large man and a deeply experienced purveyor of Wilsonian wisdom (Wilson himself used to tell me how much he admired Smith),” Jones wrote. “He’s an actor who understands how his characters invariably suffer from great stress and how the world for this soul is such that he can’t trust or ever relax.” To read the review, click here.