By Elaine Hegwood Bowen M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
Collaboraction, Chicago’s social issue-driven contemporary theatre, announces the line-up of 21 new, crowd-sourced works for its first-ever PEACEBOOK Festival, a collaborative citywide festival of theatre, dance, music, visual art and spoken word focused on cultivating peace in Chicago, which continues through August 27 as part of the Chicago Park District’s Nights Out in the Park program. The Englewood program on the South Side was presented last weekend.
Participating artists who have created new works for PEACEBOOK include GQ of the Q Brothers, Sir Taylor, Universes (directed by Cheryl Lynn Bruce), Yuri Lane, the Chicago Beatbox LTD, the Step-Alive Dance Team from Englewood, and many more.
Collaboraction created PEACEBOOK as a way to engage new artists, audiences, and communities in creating and sharing art that envisions a more peaceful Chicago. Each PEACEBOOK performance is a fast-paced collection of seven diverse, world premiere pieces of theatre, dance, and spoken word, each seven minutes or less, uniting Chicago artists citywide, and creating real connections with Chicagoans in communities around the city.
PEACEBOOK will be performed in a multidisciplinary festival atmosphere, for FREE at these three Chicago Park Districts this August:
PEACEBOOK West Side/Austin; August 19 and 20; LaFollette Park, 1333 N. Laramie.
PEACEBOOK North Side/Uptown; August 26 and 27; Clarendon Park, 4501 N. Clarendon Ave.
Prior to each show, the house will open with a free community meal and peace fair with panels, workshops and community organizations from a diverse line up of Peacemakers in Chicago. Each night also features a different musical guest. To reserve FREE tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit collaboraction.org or call (312) 226-9633.
“From our 15 years of producing SKETCHBOOK, we know the power of an arts festival to build community, create artistic collaborations and launch careers, so we are delighted to bring our proven SKETCHBOOK format to the Chicago Peace Movement,” said Collaboraction Artistic Director Anthony Moseley.
“We are delighted to announce these 21 new works of art that individually and collectively explore the meaning and root cause of peace. We are creating new collaborations in which established Chicago theatre artists are working with talented emerging artists from the neighborhoods of our park district locations. This is bringing together a new community and sending a new message to Chicago. And the shows are going to be full of energy, much like SKETCHBOOK, with live music and dance pieces and free food.”
Moseley’s call to action? “We encourage all Chicagoans who want to be a part of the Peace Movement to join us as an artist, audience or volunteer. We must all come together and address the biggest issues of our times, the epidemic of violence and inequality that is the result of 200 years of segregation. Theatre can unite us and activate us.”
Here is the schedule for Austin’s LaFollete Park, 1333 N. Laramie Ave.; Friday, August 19 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, August 20 at 7 p.m.
“Actions Build a Beautiful City” devised by Justin Dietzel and Anie Svarz. This devised piece uses a diverse ensemble, movement and singing to create a medley of “Beautiful City” (Godspell) and “Louder Than Words” (Tick Tick Boom!) to express how we can come together as human beings and help one another through the trials and tribulations the people of Chicago face on a daily basis.
“Hands Up” by Schoen Smith, directed by Michael Pogue. This staged poetry piece deals with issues of racism, particularly acts of violence against African Americans, in the justice system. The speaker(s) urge(s) their oppressor and their fellow humans to incite change, stop unjust acts of hatred against minorities and to identify before they crucify.
“Here I Am” by Josh Mattingly, directed by Tobi Mattingly. Josh Mattingly explores the life of a native Chicagoan who has lived through many years of conflict, despair, peace and joy. Mattingly seeks to understand “a part of my city that I’ve allowed myself to be ignorant of.”
“The Making of an Example Setter” by Sir Taylor, directed by Anthony Moseley. Sir Taylor, a founding member of the Jessie White Tumblers and U.S. Gymnastic Team, reunites with PEACEBOOK Festival Director Anthony Moseley to create a choreopoem that tells Sir Taylor’s life story of peace.
“The Parking Lot Discord” by Josh Weagly, directed by Ana Martinez Medina. A play about two women, who are caught in needless conflict in a parking lot. This work reveals that being too focused on personal agendas can create crippled bridges of communication and prevent resolution of conflict, as illustrated today in larger issues of race, class, sexuality or identity.
“Peace, Hope and Love” by Collaboraction’s Peacemakers teen ensemble, directed by Luis Crespo. A devised piece about peace, hope, and love created by the Collaboraction teen group.
“Who Can We Be?” by Kyle J. McCloskey, directed by Anderson Lawfer. Anderson Lawfer of Strawdog Theatre stages this piece with puppets, chronicling a South Side teen, who struggles to create a haven where his community can rise up in order to find freedom and cultivate peace.
Musical guest August 19 is Environmental Encroachment. August 20 is TBA.
The North Side’s Clarendon Park schedule is as follows: 4501 N. Clarendon Ave., Friday, August 26 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, August 27 at 7 p.m.
“Bag and Tag” devised by Sophia Pietrkowski. There are more than 20,000 homeless youth in the city of Chicago. What happens to the things that are most important to us after displacement? This devised piece aims to bring awareness to a Bag and Tag service that will keep our homeless youth in possession of their most important belongings.
“Beatbox Symphony” by Chic- ago Beatbox LTD, directed by Yuri Lane. This piece will feature amazing beatboxers from around the Chicago area, including an interactive beatbox symphony conducted by Yuri Lane, also known as the Human Beatbox.
“Co-exist” devised by Danielle Littman and Diana Raiselis. Littman and Raiselis are interviewing Uptown residents, business owners and workers with a central question: What does it mean for Uptown residents to coexist? The answers will be shaped into a hyper-local performance piece that touches on not only the neighborhood’s concerns, but also its gifts, strengths and joys.
“Everybody Loves Big E” written by Reginald Edmund, directed by Melanie Flores. A narrative from a 12-year-old bootlegger brings attention to the difficulty of making a living in a difficult neighborhood, and how police bias and brutality lead to unjust actions against people just trying to survive and find peace.
“You’re Mean, Work on That” devised by Kasey Foster. Peace is a good thing, and this city of marches and protests is hungry for it. A dance piece about Chicago’s fight for unity and love.
“Folks Along the Way” by Still Acting Up, directed by Genevieve Fowler. Still Acting Up is an audition-based senior citizens theatre troupe, who hopes to debunk the myth of what it means to be a senior involved in the arts and wants to inspire audiences to action.
“When the Lights Turn Off” by Jenny Lynn Christoffersen, directed by Spencer Diedrick. A spoken word ensemble piece about ignorance and privilege that shows how everyone must do their part to open their eyes and help fix the world’s problems even though they may not be directly affected by some of them.
Musical guest August 26 is TBA. Musical guest August 27 is Nicholas Tremulis.
Collaboraction (collaboraction.org) collaborates with artists, community activists, and citizens from throughout the city to create original theatrical experiences that push artistic boundaries and explore critical social issues with a diverse community of Chicagoans. Collaboraction has worked with more than 3,000 artists to bring more than 60 productions and events to more than 100,000 audience members.