Friday, December 15, 2017


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:


(left) Sonya Jackson, Founder and Principal, Mantra for Good, will perform her one woman show
(title TBA) as part of Encounter. (right) The Example Setters will perform a new work in the short collection work, Resistance. Credit: Joel Maisonet.

Collaboraction, Chicago’s home for social-issue driven contemporary theatre, announces Encounter, a winter festival curated around the theme of Racism and Racial Healing in Chicago with theater, visual art, music, video, dance and more.

Encounter is an explorative event series encompassing two full-length works, three short work collections, four free staged readings and four one-night-only events, each created by Chicago artists working in a variety of media, all intended to incite knowledge, discussion and action around the theme of Racism in Chicago.

Encounter will be presented over two weeks, January 9-20, 2018, in all three venues of Collaboraction Studios, 1579 N. Milwaukee Avenue, 3rd Floor, in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.

Select elements will then tour to Englewood’s Hamilton Park, Austin’s La Follette Park and Hermosa’s Kelvyn Park as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks program.

Encounter was curated through open and invited submissions from Chicago artists working in a variety of media—from dance and music to film and theater. Works selected for production interrogate racism in Chicago and present the artists’ visions for racial healing.

Full-length performances include a new work by Sonya Jackson (title TBA) and Not Quite: Asian American by Law, Asian Woman by Desire by Ada Cheng, and Ziryab, each presented in Collaboraction’s Pentagon Theatre.

Collaboraction’s Vault is home to three short work collections titled History, Identity and Resistance.

One-night-only events include Saints and Sinners, an evening of storytelling curated by Sandra Delgado (La Havana Madrid); Our Chicago, produced by the Black Lives, Black Words International Project; Journey to Forgive Us, created by Journey to Forgive Us and Communities First Association; and Talk Stories: An Asian American/Asian Diaspora Storytelling Show curated by Ada Cheng and Archy Jamjun, all in The Salon.

Tickets are $10 for students, artists, educators, and seniors; $25 for the general public. Festival passes, which will allow a holder to see each show in the festival one time, can be purchased for $50. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit, email or call (312) 226-9633.


“Encounter picks up where our fall PEACEBOOK tour left off, giving our audience new opportunities to immerse themselves in a deep, mixed medium exploration of racism in Chicago with a unique breadth of Chicago artists,” says Artistic Director Anthony Moseley.

“We’ve seen Collaboraction’s brand of social-issue-driven work cultivate knowledge and empathy, and serve as a catalyst for dialogue, understanding and peacemaking. With Encounter, Collaboraction will continue to engage a diverse group of Chicago artists and audiences in urgent conversations about the sad impact of systemic racism.”

Encounter features new works by theater artists and choreographers who performed in Collaboraction’s PEACEBOOK fall festival, alongside Collaboraction newcomers from other disciplines.

Following the two-week run in Wicker Park, Encounter will tour to Chicago Park District venues in Hamilton Park in Englewood, Kelvyn Park in Hermosa, and LaFollette Park in Austin. The return of free events and peace-focused community conversations in the same locations as Collaboraction’s PEACEBOOK are meant to deepen Collaboraction’s growing relationship with these parks and the residents they serve.

Following are more details, dates and times about Collaboraction’s Encounter:

(left) Ada Cheng will perform her one-woman show Not Quite: Asian American by Law, Asian Woman by Desire as part of Encounter. The Collaboraction Teen Ensemble will perform in Identity, a collection of short works. Credit: Joel Maisonet.


Unitled Solo Show
Written and performed by Sonya Y. Jackson
Directed by Wren T. Brown
Tuesday, January 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 14 at 1 p.m.
The Pentagon

Sonya Jackson, founder and principal, Mantra For Good and a board member with Chicago Ideas, writes and performs this solo play with music about her life and experiences with race and identity. Legendary TV/film actor and Artistic Director of L.A.’s Ebony Rep Theatre Wren T. Brown directs.

Not Quite: Asian American by Law, Asian Woman by Desire
Written and performed by Ada Cheng
Wednesday, January 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, January 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 13 at 1 p.m.
The Pentagon

PEACEBOOK Fest standout Ada Cheng’s original solo show exposes the perils of living under Trump for immigrant women of color. The phrase "not quite" connects three main themes: meanings of home, the fractured nature of Asian-American identity, and the intersection of gender, race, sexuality and immigration. Not Quite is a complex, politically urgent mix of personal stories, monologues and theater performance, intended to be an intervention in and challenge to current politics.


Tuesday, January 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, January 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 20 at 4 p.m.
The Vault

Choreographed by Yariana Baralt Torres

This new dance piece, inspired by the choreographer’s experience as a Latina in the United States, explores the us-them dichotomy, conveying the feelings and experiences different minority groups in the United States have in common.

Jets, Sharks, and Beckys
By Nancy García Loza
Directed by Laura Alcala Baker

As they wait to be called in for an audition for West Side Story, a trio of theatre artists—Latinx and otherwise—debate the play, popular conceptions of race and casting, and notions of inclusion and authenticity. Jets, Sharks, and Beckys was a stand-out work at Chicago’s Theater Community Coming Together to Fight Ism’s including Racism last September at Black Ensemble Theatre.

Soul in Suburbia
Written and performed by Dana N. Anderson
Directed by Sandra Delgado

Anderson’s autobiographical, one-woman show is Chicagoland as seen through the lens of a black family settling in 1980’s suburbia.

D on the South Side
Directed by Diana Quiñones Rivera

A short film about a Puerto Rican woman's experience of race, privilege and hostility living in a predominantly black neighborhood in Chicago.

New work (title TBA)
Devised by Collaboraction’s Teen Peacemakers Ensemble
Directed by Luis Crespo

A new, original devised piece by the Collaboraction Peacemakers Ensemble about racism and its impact on violence in Chicago.

Do you love me?
Written by Jason Makia Robinson
Directed by Genevieve Fowler

A hip-hop piece that speaks on the harsh realities of being an black man in a white world. Relationships dissipate, professional opportunities are lost, and unfair treatment are why life as a black man is more difficult. Says Robinson, “the road to social fulfillment, financial gain and overall success can be hindered by something I have no control over - the color of my skin.”

Wednesday, January 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 13 at 3 p.m.
Saturday, January 20 at 1 p.m.
The Vault

Exodus: Sounds of the Great Migration
Directed by Lonnie Edwards
Executive Producer Robin Malpass

Five million blacks moved to the north and west between 1915 and 1960 hoping for better job opportunities, equality in education and a fair legal system. This new film about the Great Migration, arguably the largest internal exodus in U.S. history, is a cinematic testament to the connection we will forever have with those who paved the way and continue to influence us.
Dese Shoes
Written and performed by Loretta Hawkins

Harriet Tubman returns from heaven for one day to offer guidance to her people in this long-form poem, a fictitious narration of events in her life.

Untitled Gwendolyn Brooks Project
Music by Marcus Dunleavey
Directed by Taylor Barfield

Famed acoustic guitarist Marcus Dunleavy and Collaboraction Associate Artistic Director Taylor Barfield team on Untitled Gwendolyn Brooks Project. Projections and live dance also help capture some of the power, emotion and wisdom from Brooks’s poetry and bring new life to her words.

The Blue Eyed Devil
Written by Jharmaine Boyd
Directed by Ashley Williams

The story of a 1940s interracial Chicago couple: Mr. Jonathan Butler, a white man, and Ms. Dorothy Butler, a black woman. When Jonathan loses his job due to his interracial marriage, the Butlers try to determine if love is worth it. True love bears all things, but the burden of segregated Chicago may be too much.

Together We Rise
Choreographed by Gabi Saul

A movement piece meant to empower change and inspire hope in rising generations. Intention of movement is pursued through purposeful combination of music and snippets of interviews with Chicago high school students on issues that drive them into action.

"I Have a Dream" speech (the remix)
By Tyrone Taylor in collaboration with GQ

Issues of race and racism are even more prevalent than they were 54 years ago. This "I Have a Dream" speech remix by Chicago theater newcomer Tyrone Taylor, and GQ of The Q Brothers, addresses the current struggle for racial equality, not only in Chicago, but in America.

Thursday, January 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 18 at 7:30 p.m.
The Vault

Little Eyes
By Jamie Schriner

This spoken word piece by Jamie Shriner and tap-danced by song-and-dance-man Time Brickey deals with the ugly side of family and the need to examine complacency and complicity.

Of Wine and Chocolate
Choreographed by Elysia C. Banks

Racial healing can take many forms, but Banks likes to highlight open conversation. Her new dance piece Of Wine and Chocolate explores how women connect while honestly acknowledging and celebrating women’s different cultures, ideals and heritage.

Choreographed by Sharidan Rickmon

Faction is a dance work that explores the experience of living in a bubble at a private Jesuit University and what it means to have family and friends on Chicago's South and West Side.

Racism 101
Directed by Dionne Hawkins

Racism 101 is a documentary film in which Chicagoans recount their first experiences of racism.

Sir Taylor and the Example Setters

A new work by The Example Setters, teens who set the example “all day, every day” with their spoken word, led by Collaboraction’s 2017 Artist Award Winner Sir Taylor, will blow audiences away with their poetry.

Triumphs, Burdens and Laughs by Elysia Banks debuted at Collaboraction's 2017 PEACEBOOK Festival. Dance is also on tap for the multi-disciplinary festival Encounter. Click here. Credit: Joel Maisonet


Some Thoughts On Race and Racism In Chicago From Some People Who Aren't Sure What To Do And Who Sat Down And Talked About It
Written by Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman
Directed by Esteban Arevalo
Wednesday, January 10 at 8 p.m.
The Salon

Building on the seven-minute piece from this fall’s PEACEBOOK Fest, Some Thoughts on Racism… examines race through white eyes, using words from a collection of interviews that shed light on how we see ourselves and each other as a community.

Written and directed by Frederick Alphonso
Sunday, January 14 at 3 p.m.
The Vault

#Hashtag raises awareness about things we tend to sweep under the rug in our families and neighborhoods: injustice, racism, sexism, homophobia, substance abuse, domestic violence and more.

Come My Beloved
Written and directed by Emma Weinstein
Wednesday, January 17 at 8 p.m.
The Salon

Based on true stories, Come My Beloved chronicles one Friday night in the lives of three Black and Jewish couples in Detroit: communists Solomon and Sophie (1930s); Noah, a PhD student, and Susan, a classical violinist passing as white (1970s); and Maya and Julia, recently relocated, present day Brooklynites. Through glimpses into their lives, Weinstein explores the intersection of race, faith, and identity during the downfall and resurgence of one of America’s most important cities.

A Blue Island in the Red Sea
Written and directed by Anthony Moseley in collaboration with Taylor Barfield
Saturday, January 20 at 10 a.m.
The Salon

An open rehearsal of Collaboraction’s spring world premiere A Blue Island in the Red Sea, debuting April 29-May 27, 2018. Collaboraction’s newest devised work continues where the company’s five Crime Scene chapters left off. Don’t miss your chance to participate in the development of this critical new work of Chicago theatre exploring the root cause of racism and what racial healing might look like in this city.


Journey to Forgive Us
Created by Journey to Forgive Us and Communities First Association
Thursday, January 14 at 3 p.m.
The Pentagon

Join Collaboraction, Journey To Forgive Us, and Communities First Association on the Sunday before MLK Day for a day of forgiveness and restoration through theater. This event addresses how today’s deep divides segregate the U.S., creates a space where the injustice and hatred millions face daily can be overcome, and examines and answers the question: “What are Civil Rights?”

Talk Stories: An Asian American/Asian Diaspora Storytelling Show
Produced by Ada Cheng and Archy Jamjun
Wednesday, January 17 at 7 p.m.
The Salon

Talk Stories: An Asian-American/Asian Diaspora Storytelling Show takes its name from the work of author Maxine Hong Kingston, known for her book The Woman Warrior, heralded as one of the first books to innovate the non-fiction genre and bring traditional Asian narratives to a Western audience. Cheng and Jamjun take Kingston’s lead and runs with it, bringing personal stories to the stage and expanding the ideas of who Asian Americans and members of the Asian Diaspora are and can be.

Saints and Sinners
Curated by Sandra Delgado
Thursday, January 18 at 8 p.m.
The Vault

We live in a binary obsessed culture: black or white, man or woman, gay or straight, winner or loser, citizen or foreigner, saint or sinner. But what lies in between? Saints and Sinners explores that grey area through personal stories that defy being put neatly into a box. This Encounter edition presents a collection of black, male-identified Chicagoans who will riff off of what Saints and Sinners mean to them through stories that deal with breaking open the boxes that have tried to confine them.

Our Chicago Project
Curated by Black Lives, Black Words International Project
Friday, January 19 at 8 p.m.
The Vault

Black Lives, Black Words has dedicated itself to highlighting the narratives of marginalized voices. Our Chicago Project continues the group’s effort to spark an important dialogue examining the segregation and gentrification that has violated so many Chicago neighborhoods.


Collaboraction ( 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 over 3,000 artists to bring more than 60 productions and events to upwards of 250,000 audience members.

Collaboraction culminates its 2017-18 in April with A Blue Island in the Red Sea, a devised world premiere about the history and impact of racism in Chicago and imagining a path toward healing and transformation, created in collaboration with Chicagoans by Artistic Director Anthony Moseley and an ensemble of co-devisers.

Collaboraction, based on the third floor of Wicker Park’s historic Flat Iron Arts Building with three theatre spaces, is led by Artistic Director Anthony Moseley, Managing Director Dr. Marcus Robinson, and a dedicated staff and board of directors.

Collaboraction is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation via the MacArthur Foundation, and the Wicker Park & Bucktown SSA #33 Chamber of Commerce. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

For more, visit, follow the company on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube or Instagram, or call the Collaboraction box office, (312) 226-9633.

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