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Charles "Chuck" Smith

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Information about Charles "Chuck" Smith

Profile image of Charles "Chuck" Smith

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Theater Director

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Catfish
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Canada
Favorite Quote:
Cool.

Birthplace

Born:
3/7/1938
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Theater Director

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Catfish
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Canada
Favorite Quote:
Cool.

Birthplace

Born:
3/7/1938
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Charles "Chuck" Smith is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Theatrical director Chuck Smith was born Charles Norman Smith on March 7, 1938 in Chicago, Illinois to Charles P. and Amanda Smith. Smith attended Kozminski Elementary School and at age twelve, saw his aunt in a production of The Monkey’s Paw staged by the black Skyloft Players. Smith graduated from Parker High School in 1956 and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. After his service in the Marines, Smith took a job with the United States Post Office, and in 1963, he won a role in the Dramatic Arts Guild’s production of McAdam and Eve. In 1970, he landed his first paying role in the Goodman Theatre’s production of The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. Smith studied theatre at Loop College, then Governor’s State University, while working as a computer programmer for the Illinois Department of Public Aid. He earned his B.A. degree in theatre in 1984.

Influenced by veteran Chicago playwright Ted Ward, Smith became involved with the Experimental Black Actors Guild or X-BAG, Kuumba Theatre, eta Creative Arts Foundation and other independent black theatres in the 1960s. In 1982, he was awarded the Paul Robeson Award by the Black Theatre Alliance of Chicago. Smith began teaching at Columbia College in 1983, and in 1984, he co-founded the Chicago Theatre Company with Douglas Alan Mann as an Actors Equity company. In 1991, Smith received a grant from Arts Midwest to study larger venues and touring, and since 1992, he has been a Goodman Theatre Artistic Associate. Smith’s directorial credits include The Gift Horse, The Amen Corner, A Raisin in the Sun, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and A Christmas Carol for the Goodman Theatre. He has also directed Master Harold and the Boys, Home, and Dame Lorraine for Victory Gardens Theatre. Smith directed Playboy of the West Indies for Congo Square Theatre, The Temple for eta and The Last Season for Robey Theatre. After directing The Meeting, Smith with actors Harry Lennix and Gregory Alan-Williams formed the touring company, Legacy Productions.

Smith won a Chicago Emmy Award for NBC’s Crime of Innocence. He also won an Emmy for his theatrical direction of Fast Break to Glory. In 1997, he received the Award of Merit from the Black Theatre Alliance. Smith, a long time board member of the African American Arts Alliance, spends time offering career advice and workshops to aspiring actors and directors.

Smith lives on Chicago’s South Side and has one daughter, Michele.

See how Charles "Chuck" Smith is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles "Chuck" Smith's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles "Chuck" Smith lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about his mother's family and growing up in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles "Chuck" Smith remembers his childhood in the Ida B. Wells Homes in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about his parents' separation and his relationship with his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles "Chuck" Smith shares his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charles "Chuck" Smith remembers moving from the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois to Hyde Park while in seventh grade
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charles "Chuck" Smith remembers transferring from Hyde Park High School to Parker High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about his experience in the U.S. Marine Corps
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles "Chuck" Smith remembers seeing his aunt in a production of "The Monkey's Paw" performed by the Skyloft Players
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles "Chuck" Smith recalls his experiences in the a cappella choir at Parker High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes his experiences living in Japan and his leaving the U.S. Marine Corps
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes his beginning involvement in theatre with the Dramatic Art Guild in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charles "Chuck" Smith recalls his first acting role and studying drama at Loop College in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charles "Chuck" Smith recalls his experiences as a computer programmer with the Cook County Department of Public Aid
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charles "Chuck" Smith recalls joining X-BAG, the Experimental Black Actors Guild, in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Charles "Chuck" Smith recalls meeting Chicago playwright Theodore Ward
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charles "Chuck" Smith shares the philosophy of theater of playwright Theodore Ward
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes the time commitment required in the theater
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about some of his productions with X-BAG, the Experimental Black Actors Guild
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about Chicago's black theaters in the early 1970s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about the professional quality of X-BAG, the Experimental Black Actors Guild
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about environment for black theater in Chicago, Illinois during the 1970s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes receiving his degree from Governors State University in University Park, Illinois in 1977
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Charles "Chuck" Smith comments on his directing career after leaving X-BAG Theatre
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about Chicago's Off-Loop theater scene in the 1970s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes his first paid theater job
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes the beginning of his professional theater career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about the difference between union and non-union theater companies in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes the strength of the theater scene in Chicago, Illinois, particularly for African American theater
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about the opportunities available for actors in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charles "Chuck" Smith recalls that start of his teaching at Columbia College Chicago in Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charles "Chuck" Smith recalls leaving the Illinois Department of Public Aid to work in theater full-time
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes transitioning from acting to directing
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes the beginning of his relationship with the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes the beginning of his relationship with the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about the three Tony-winning theater companies in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about the history of performing August Wilson plays at Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about his current projects to promote African American theater in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about the supportive theater community in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes his philosophy of directing, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes his philosophy of directing, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Charles "Chuck" Smith reflects upon his regrets and the need for a black commercial theater venue
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about his family's pride in his career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Charles "Chuck" Smith reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about his daughter's support of his career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about the African American Arts Alliance in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Charles "Chuck" Smith talks about his family
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Charles "Chuck" Smith describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Charles "Chuck" Smith narrates his photographs