April 20, 2018

Almost exactly a month ago, American Theater Company officially closed its doors, sending shockwaves and broken hearts throughout the Chicago theater community.  An institution in this city since the 80’s, ATC underwent more than a few changes, rifts and leaders, employing hundreds of artists and several explorations of the question “What does it mean to be American?”  The Chicago Inclusion Project was proud to collaborate with ATC in the last couple of seasons, a partnership which began almost the moment Will Davis became Artistic Director. Today we celebrate the impact the company made on so many of us…

At ATC, I was consistently welcomed, valued, challenged, moved, and inspired by all of the work and play I saw and experienced there. ATC was able to do so much with so few resources; it offered art made with love and grit by all involved. The ATC staff gave their hearts and time so generously, and their work ethic is an endless source of inspiration. I'm grateful for my time with the company, and all of the extraordinary people I met within those walls.

                                                                                                               -   Kelly O Sullivan, ATC ensemble member

Under Will Davis' artistic direction at ATC, a much-needed un-ironic enthusiasm was brought to Chicago theatre. Like a blast of oxygen, Will's artistry and aesthetics reminded us how little we need to make theatre. And now, with ATC's closing, we are painfully reminded that there's much needed to make a theatre. The challenges Will inherited were arguably insurmountable. What he was able to do with such a paucity of resources and time is astonishing: he created a community, he curated work that brought Chicago up to pace with other cities, and he took human beings who had all too often been relegated to the sidelines and put them front and center. (Of course, staged and lit beautifully). He did all this with an exploratory spirit, a passionate searching curiosity that should serve as inspiration  for all of us to always hold these questions close on our journey: what can theatre do better than any other artform, and what indeed does it mean to be an American?

-  Michael Patrick Thornton, actor and Artistic Director of Gift Theatre

The arrival of Will Davis as Artistic Director of American Theater Company was a dream. A well-established Chicago institution hiring one of our country’s jewels: a true visionary. Will’s motor, CURIOSITY, drives him to build work based on questions, resulting in gorgeous and unexpected theatre.  I had the pleasure of being directed by Will in ATC’s Picnic, playing Hal Carter. The casting, facilitated by the Chicago Inclusion Project, resulted in a stage picture that looked and felt quite different than previous productions of this American classic. It felt and looked much closer to the world I know. It was queer a.f. And felt completely...normal. Excitingly normal.  The way he thinks about The Work, the way he dissects it, the way he builds and rebuilds. And the way we, the actors, are not CONCEPTS. Why? Because Will Davis sees us as INDIVIDUALS, not REPRESENTATIONS OF GROUPS. Does one have to be Queer to see this way? I don’t necessarily think so. But Will’s identity certainly informs the way he sees the world, and us, and it was a way I hadn’t been led in my 20+years as an actor.

Will Davis, Chicago is losing a leader that other leaders should have been looking to. Thank you for giving us your time and your heart. New York is so lucky.

-  Molly Brennan, Actor

Will Davis didn’t wait for permission to start building an institution based on ideals and values rooted in a better future for this country, which is what that place felt like each time I walked in: an in-my-opinion-pitch-perfect interpretation of the American Theater Company name and legacy. He partnered with The Chicago Inclusion Project and built a casting process on a foundation of inclusion and stellar professionalism. He created residency programs that nurtured artists at so many various stages of their artistic careers, really making it about investing in the artist and their passion. He further invested in the youth ensemble, and brought the brilliant Abhi Shrestha on board to curate next-level programming aimed at truly nurturing the next generation. He produced new, challenging, developing, forward-thinking (and AMBITIOUS) works of art that asked their audiences for trust, and repaid that trust with experiences built on a bedrock of humanity and empathy and craft and innovation and insight and technique and heart and guts and honesty.

It was amazing. And Will just did it. By making certain things priorities in his process, administratively and artistically. Things that so many of us still treat as ambitions. As “if only we could”s. This is what Will and ATC meant to me - they showed me what it means to live your values, as an artist, as a company leader and as a citizen. Create the better future. Make it a priority.    Read more...

-  Josh Sobel, Artistic Director of Haven Theatre


How curious? The calling card of the radiant Will Davis directing me in ATC’s Picnic this time last year. And how curious indeed. The queer inclusive casting that Will, ATC, and the Chicago Inclusion Project did for this show have already had rippling effects with Timeline’s Vibrator Play and other companies learning to answer the question “why now?” The effects that Will at the helm of ATC have had already have ramifications that can be seen in our theater community that will continue to reverberate at a higher and higher decibel, influencing art that relates to the tumultuous transition that humanity as a

whole is going through now. We don’t know where we are going but art and stories are our guiding light, slowly lighting the path ahead step by step. Will has invigorated our community and he and ATC will always hold a special place in my heart.

By the time the [Picnic] rehearsal process started we had experienced the terrifying shift of people of minorities of all shapes feeling the hate begin to turn up and I was terrified. I had just come from a very dark place a few months before...But in the midst of that darkness, Will, Picnic, and my cast helped me through it all whether they knew it or not. Through my fellow actors I pushed myself to go to new depths in my acting I had never known. I got to play a 16 year old girl, be cisgender, and be seen as Millie, the outcast. Too smart to be “pretty” and not fitting the mold, something a lot of us can relate to. In short, Will, ATC, and Picnic literally helped save my life because things were that dark in my own hidden world. Though all of this was just a stepping-stone in allowing myself to be seen, it was a pivotal one that was placed in just the right place. Every piece I got to see from ATC was challenging and pushing us forward as a community of artists, as a community of humans. I mourn for the great loss our community and Chicago has received, and I celebrate the amazing strides accomplished the effects still yet to be felt. Here’s to you Will. To the unknown.

-  Alexia Jasmene, actor

As a young actor moving to Chicago I sought out an artistic home, a space to grow as an artist, and that objective transpired into becoming close with companies like Teatro Luna and Collaboraction. Whereas theaters such as TimeLine or yes, even American Theater Company for some reason, were not theaters on my radar nor places I often found myself in. And that is  no fault of theirs, because it could have come down to something as simple as they didn’t know who I was - and I didn’t know their work or who they were, so I was not proactive in doing the research I needed to do, but also maybe, maybe, it came down to accessibility? Who knows.

After two tablce reads of Men On Boats, I was offered a role, which was a dream. I quickly learned that in the grand scheme of it all, I liked collaborative environments where we first and foremost brought ourselves, and then we were artists, and we were creators. Plus, I finally felt like I found someone who saw me in the light I wanted to be seen in, a light I was ready to be seen in. It seemed Will and I had similar creative ways of thinking and ways of working. I also cannot emphasize enough how taken care of, how valued and how seen I felt by Will and everyone else that made up ATC like Sarah Slight, Emma Palermo, Katie Klemme, Abhi Shrestha, Amanda Forman and Logan Jones. In a Northside theater I finally got to experience things, basic human needs, that many people take for granted. I wasn’t tokenized, I didn’t feel used as if to educate. I existed. And the ATC I was a part of and was proud to be a part of was queer as fuck but also, playful and freeing. ATC provided the roof and it was there where I had opportunities to do the thing I love in a way I suddenly was craving. And yes, I also must give a shout out to The Chicago Inclusion Project who also said, “we see you Avi, we see you.”    Read more...

- Avi Roque, actor

I thought of ATC as a home. I think a lot of people did. Will Davis did the work. As a transgender actor, there was something so incredibly powerful to see someone behind the table in an audition whom I believed fully saw me, 100 percent, as I am, without having to try. Representation is truly so important. Not just for trans* folks, but all marginalized communities. Will was working actively to hand the mic over to all of us, so that our too-oft-silenced voices and perspectives could be heard, seen, and inspire those in our own communities. I became an actress on the ATC stage because I knew I was safe there. I knew I was empowered there. I was given permission to be fierce as I am, not as a token, but as a key player. It is rare that one has such a transformative experience onstage. I think many people transformed in that building, both on and off-stage, because of the magic that Will created. Because of the home that he built.

-  Elle Walker, actor

Voices that deserved Volume were given the stage.
Theatre that actually mattered was made there.
American Theater Company felt like home to me.
Will Davis led the way.

I count myself incredibly lucky to have been a part of Battleaxe Betty (ATC CORE) and We're Gonna Be Okay.  I learned how "to make art that looks like the people who made it" there. I learned "what it means to be an American" there. We made American mosaics.

We were seen. We were brave.
I marvel at what we all made together there.

-   Gaby Labotka, actor and fight choreographer

April 13, 2018

Continuing our support of productions that embrace inclusion for artists and audiences, below are shows open or opening soon in Chicago that we feel are moving our community forward.  As a staff, we have not necessarily seen all of these shows but are really glad they are happening.

We are excited to list shows that offer some or all of the following:
- Non-traditional casting

- Accessible storytelling

- Variety of perspectives on the design and production teams

- Playwrights/Directors from underrepresented communities

- Diversity in season programming

Buy tickets to shows that celebrate inclusion. Then write to producers and tell them you want more of it. Decision makers are led by numbers and this is one way you can make a difference.​

33 To Nothing

Written by Grant James Varjas

Directed by Tyrone Phillips

Previews: April 6 – April 14, 2018

Opening Night: April 15, 2018

Regular Run: April 19 – May 27

Taking place during a real-time band practice, 33 to Nothing is a play that rocks hard and breaks hearts.  Feeling the incessant call of adulthood, individuals begin to question their role in the ensemble. Ultimately begging the question: to break up or to build stronger?  An anthem of forgiveness, loyalty and resilience when your world is being torn by the seams.

The cast, artistic and production team include: Amanda Raquel Martinez, Annie Prichard, Jeff Kurysz, Aaron Holland, Steve Haggard, Brian Keys, Isaac McGinley, REbecca Keeshin, Sarah Giovanetti, Tyron Phillips, Athanasia Giannetos, Eleanor Kahn, Slick Jorgensen, Kristy Hall, Joe Court, Caswell James, Christa Van Baale, Kathleen Dickinson, Corrie Besse, Leean Kim Torske, Mierka Girten and Kyle Stoffers

Tickets are $25 - $35 and can be purchased here.

Hang Man
Written by Stacy Osei-Kuffour

Directed by Jess McLeod

March 8th - April 29th

The community of a backwoods Southern town grapples with the murder of a Black man who is found hanging in a tree. As events unfold, the hanging mystifies the people of the community, forcing them to confront their complicity in this man’s horrific demise. Osei-Kuffour’s darkly comical, heartbreaking play, which recently made the prestigious 2017 Kilroy’s List, uses absurdity to explore racism, sexuality, and the parts of American history we would all like to forget.

The cast, artistic and production team include: Paul D'Addario, Gregory Fenner, Andy Fleischer, Jennifer Glasse, Mariah Sydnei Gordon, Martel Manning, Angela Morris, Katherin Bourne, Nick Caesar, Jalyn Greene, Destini Huston, Jess McLeod, Stacy Osei-Kuffour, Ian Martin, Arnel Sancianco, Alarie Hammock, Elyse Balogh, John Nichols III, Stephen Ptacek, Daniel C Brown, Jamir Neslon, Mike Durst, Andy Kloubec, Rachel Flesher, Corinne James, Courtney Winkelman, David Preis and Sarah Luse

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased here.   Use the code SAGE for discount tickets.

The Doppelganger

Written by Matthew-Lee Erlbach

Directed by Tina Landau

In the dangerous back channels of international resource politics, a wealthy British businessman suffers an untimely accident just before a critical African copper deal is signed. So when his unwitting (and witless) American doppelgänger is thrust into negotiations to avert intercontinental disaster, chaos erupts, leaving us wondering: whose side are we supposed to be on... and who will save Africa?? This new American farce is a hilarious, irreverent and timely look at the back-room deals that shape our world and the unlikely cast of characters who make them.

The cast, production and artistic team include: Celeste Cooper, Audrey Francis, Ora Jones, Sandra Marquez, James Vincent Meredith, Rain Wilson, Michael Accardo, Whit K Lee, Andy Nagraj, Karen Rodriguez, Dan Plehal, Matthew Lee Erlbach, Tina Landau, Todd Rosenthal, Clint Ramos, Scott Zielinski, Michael Bodeen, Rob Milburn, Maclolm Ewin, Christine Freeburg, JC Clementz, Gigi Buffington, Jeff Jenkins and Jonathan Berry

Tickets are $30 - $81 and can be purchased here.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical

Based on the Book Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
Script and Lyrics by Mo Willems
Music by Michael Silversher

Directed and Choreographed by Aileen McGroddy

Join in on the hunt for your dearest stuffed animal, Knuffle Bunny, in this comedic musical adaptation of the Caldecott Honor Book by Mo Willems! After losing the beloved toy rabbit at the laundromat, a desperate dad, a merry mom, and toddler Trixie learn the power in communicating, even when there are no words. With stage design inspired by illustrations straight from the book, this treasured tale is an ECT audience favorite.

The cast, production and artistic team include: Deanalis Resto, Matt Miles, Abby Murray Vachon, Ayanna Bria Bakari, Jar'Davion Brown, Emilie Modaff, Adelina Feldman Schultz, Phoebe Moore, Aileen McGroddy, Jon Schneidman, Rebeccah Singer, Kurtis Boetcher, Lauren Roark, Brian Elston, Jeffrey Levin, Michael Commendatore, Angela McIlvain, Joe Craig, Garrett Steinke, Marcus Carroll, Caroline Gully Brown, Ariela Subar, Thomas Daniel and Aurora Klock.

Tickets are $21 - $29 and can be purchased here.

Another Jungle

Written by Kristin Idaszak
Directed Tara Branham 

April 10th - April 29th

The audience has arrived at the theatre to see a show about the Chicago slaughterhouses – only to find that the play has been canceled. Instead, the writer is there to give a slideshow presentation about the history of the stockyards. In trying to explore her family’s Polish identity and the exploitation of stockyard workers, the writer unintentionally exposes a trauma from her own past. Inspired by ​Upton Sinclair's groundbreaking novel​​,​ Another Jungle explores the misuse of power, the way narratives get co-opted, and the way identity accretes over the course of generations. Another Jungle  is a 2017 Honorable Mention recipient of the American Playwriting Foundation’s Relentless Award.

The cast, production and artistic team include: Ellenor Riley-Condit (Writer), Gregory Geffrard (Stage Manager), Rich Holton (Mike), and Paula Ramirez (Inés), Kacey Bradshaw (Assistant Stage Manager), Dominic DiGiovanni (Technical Direction), Andrea Enger (Production Stage Manager), Sarah Espinoza (Sound Design), Lila Gilbert (Production Manager), Jared Gooding (Lighting Design), Tanuja Jagernauth (Dramaturgy), Gaby Labotka (Fight Choreographer), Joshua Lee (Assistant Fight Choreographer) Angela McIlvain (Props Master/Puppets/Scenic Artist), Catherine Miller (Assistant Director), Shaun Renfro (Scenic Design), and Anna Wooden (Costume Design).

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.

Written by Kevin Douglas
Directed by David Schwimmer
February 21st - April 22nd

A Texas matriarch, bless her heart, discovers that the history of the ancestral home is, well…complicated. When she reveals the news to her Southern Belle daughters, tempers rage hotter than the devil’s armpit and pandemonium runs amok on the pristine plantation…and that’s before the other set of sisters arrive.

The cast, production and artistic team include: Janet Ulrich Brooks, Hannah Gomez, Louise Lamson, Lily Mojekwu, Linsey Page Morton, Tamberla Perry, Ericka Ratcliff, Grace Smith, Kevin Douglas, David Schwimmer, Courtney O'Neill, Mara Bulmenfeld, Christine A Binder, Rick Sims, Amanda Herrmann, Eva Breneman, Ari Clouse

Tickets are $65 - $75 and can be purchased here

“We didn’t ask to see a conversation between two white men!

What we did say is both of you should shut the fuck up and listen!”

I am part of the cast of A Story Told In 7 Fights at The Neo-Futurist Theater and some of the cast members and our director were able to answer some questions that I and other members of the Chicago Inclusion Project had about A Story Told In 7 Fights.

Thank you to cast members Arti Ishak, Stephanie Shum, Rasell Holt, Jen Ellison, TJ Medel, and director Tony Santiago for answering these questions.

What made you say, “yes” to working on this show?

Arti: Tony Santiago and Gaby Labotka at the helm. Don’t get me wrong I’ve been a fan of the Neos since I first moved here too, but I really wasn’t gonna pass up working with two artists of color whose body of work, politics and advocacy I’ve admired for while. I was interested in what I could learn from them and what we could create together.

Stephanie: I have always been a huge fan of the Neos and their work and was excited to work with their process and aesthetic. I had some scheduling conflicts between projects but ultimately said yes because Tony asked and I knew Gaby was creating the fights and I was most pumped about collaborating with them.

Jen:  Dadaism, The Neos, the chance to work with Trevor again to create a show, the chance to perform again (which I don't do very often), working with a diverse cast of people I didn't know. I also felt very strongly that the subject was hyper-relevant.  That's something I think theatre struggles with - so it was exciting to be a part of a project that felt very "now."

Rasell: I was excited to join this production due in part to Tony Santiago. He is someone I had the pleasure of sharing space with before and I was looking forward to another opportunity to collaborate with him. Along with that, he informed me of other artists I have crossed paths with and just hadn't worked with so I was eager to be in the room with them and explore the life of Jack Johnson; a man I have been familiar with for most of my life but didn't really know.

TJ:  The opportunity to work with Tony Santiago and the Neo-Futurists was something I couldn’t pass up. What made it even more special was that it was about fighting and that there would be physical stage combat in it. I was always a huge fan of professional wrestling growing up and I knew that if i had a chance, I would try to make sure I would be able to do everything I ever wanted to do when I was a kid. Catchphrases, acrobatic moves, getting beat up. Tony presented me with an opportunity to work in a way I never knew about and I can’t thank him and Trevor enough for bringing this idea to the table.

Tony: With the Neo's blessing, Trevor ran with a concept and hired directors and actors outside of the Neo's. That was the hook for me. Trevor and I go way back and I've always admired and watched his work but to do something very near and dear to him in his own house with a group of people he'd never met was scary and thrilling.

What, if anything, was unique for you about this process?

Rasell:  I think the major thing that stood out to me is how transformative the story is and can be. This production is very much unique to the people in the room, which makes it more of an event to me than just another play. If this production were to continue on somewhere else with another set of people, it would be vastly different beyond just another group of people saying scripted lines because everything presented is coming from a deeply personal place from each performer.

TJ:  All of it. From the casting to closing night, everything has been such a brand new discovery for me. I get to work with such incredibly talented artists in the community and I helped devise a piece that I am extremely proud of. The most unique part of the process was the writing meetings and the hard discussions we had to have in order to make the script where it is today. I always said during the process that if we’re going to do a show about fighting, then we’re going to invite that conflicting energy into our work. It was a very unique experience to have hard conversations with my fellow divisors about changes we wanted in the script. What made it even more unique was when the institution and allies listened to our concerns. I don’t think I’ve ever felt listened to in a process that is so unique.

Jen: Not being in the director's seat.  It's been a while since I wasn't "in charge." Relinquishing that control was great - challenging at times, but really valuable.

Tony: This was an amazing and exhaustive process because we kept asking "Why and why like this?" the story and script kept flopping from "this is great" to "let start from scratch" .  Which is exactly what Trevor and I wanted. Our cast is comprised of people who aren't just wickedly talented but known for keeping it real. Which seems silly but for a Neo show where the majority aren't from the Neo's we need truth and artistic autonomy. And we bonded through that- through all of it we always came in and tried to tell the story better, to kick each other's asses better.

At what point in the process did you feel the script needed to be destroyed and re-written?

Arti: Day one. At the table read. I remember reading the initial draft and hearing the thesis Trevor proposed, and honestly prepping myself to be in another production where people of color are expected to ignore their race as their character, in the interest of surface level inclusion, you know,

industry optics. It happens to actors of color in history plays or period pieces all the time, everyday. In this case we were told Dadaists were these revolutionary artists whose art was rooted in destruction and rebellion, but there was no talk of arrests, pressed charges, no one called it looting or rioting, no one was a thug or a terrorist, no one suffered any kind of consequence and in fact we’re considered history makers. I instantly thought of the stark differences between the way the Black Lives Matter movement and Women’s March rallies are portrayed and consequently how history will probably remember them too. When Trevor then asked us to bring violence to his work as a means of collaboration to help create the final product, the first thing i thought was “poor guy, he really don’t know what he is asking for.” Then I saw the opportunity to change the narrative for people of color in a way we only dream about in the rehearsal room. And I was excited by the invitation to finally be seen as myself on stage, even if it came through the necessary yet difficult work of annihilating someone else’s beloved idol. But honestly it’s 2018 so...fuck your rose colored glasses.

Stephanie: We had this one long, very intense rehearsal a few days before tech where everything changed. A lot of the process-oriented conflicts came to a head and we were given the directive to fight for those arguments in the real time of the run. I think the action of that task translated in a way that words or conversations hadn’t necessarily before and is most reflective in the “final product.” The stakes were high and deeply personal and the rewrites from that point on served the intensity in the room.

Jen: At several points - but that's natural. When devising a script, every iteration feels new, awkward and flawed.  You burn it all down, scavenge what's left, and rebuild. It's part of the process.

TJ: When my cast mates of color voiced their concerns to our white allies about the things we were saying in the script. When I would hear their concerns, it started to spark some serious thought into my position in it all. Rebuild it or burn it all down? I felt like we needed to do both in order to get to where we wanted. I witnessed my fellow cast mates of color begin to fight for changes that were actually implemented. It gave me hope that I could do the same if that moment ever arose. That moment eventually would happen and I fought hard to get what I wanted because I saw my friends fight for it.

Do you feel you ever got the answer to, "Why am I cast in this show?"

Arti: Sort of and not in the way I expected. I realized through devising the show, that the character “Arti” that I play on stage is a reflection of the way I aspire to move through this industry, as a disrupter of conventional thinking and supporter of excluded voices, but never perfect, mostly flawed as fuck, and always learning, and never tired of fighting.

TJ: Yes. Trevor says in the show that we were hired because we were the best people for the job. I honestly believe that. That this version of A Story Told in Seven Fights was able to get to where it is because of the artists that are involved in it. Of course my minority brain tells me that we needed a diverse and racially even cast in order to tell the story in its purest form. But what’s most important is that even though he says that, it doesn’t mean that we’re the only ones that can do the show. I have hopes that if a remount were to happen or if this work were to go to high schools and colleges that any combination of artists of color can take on the tracks we’ve created so that more underrepresented individuals in the audience can see themselves on stage.

Jen: Sure - from the outset it was clear why I was there: I'm the voice of Dada.  The challenge was discovering what form that would take.

At what point did you feel like you could trust the people in the room?

Stephanie:  After that breaking point rehearsal. It was so hard and we were all personally hurt and it felt like we were either going to cancel the show or pull through. Not only did we pull through, we banded together, made huge risky changes and heard each other in a new way.

TJ: The rehearsal after the radical restructure of the script. Trevor had called off a few rehearsals to sit down with Arti and Stephanie about the script. After their meeting we had a reading of the newly revised script. When I heard what it sounded like, I was pretty surprised how many changes were made. The changes were a clear form of action that our white cast members were listening to us. From there, more difficult talks were had and more changes were made. With each change came a newly found respect for one another as divisors

Jen: I'm sort of trusting to a fault.  So I trusted everyone in the room at the start. There were several times when that was shaken - but mostly because I was uncertain that everyone had the same information.  Communication is key. If that is not open (and modeled as such by the leaders) it can get a little hairy. We all think we are better communicators than we are.  

Did you ever feel unsafe working on this show?

Arti:  Of course. You don’t make a show this close to our ugly beautiful reality without blurring the lines a little. But this question also assumes I have ever felt truly safe working in predominantly white spaces. Safety, like comfort, is a privilege.

Stephanie: My feelings of being unsafe came from my own insecurities. I think I often have a hard time articulating my thoughts, especially in a difficult, pressurized situation and I didn’t know how to contribute for a while. As a non-writer, I was worried I wasn’t pulling my weight. Finding the trust, pushing through the discomfort and learning bravery from my ensemble changed the game and I’m pleased with what I offered to the script in the last week of rehearsals.

Jen: No. Occasionally, I sensed other people might feel unsafe.  But that might be my teacher/director spidey senses pricking up.

TJ: Yes. After getting injured a few times through the run I started to think of why things kept happening to me. I started to look around the space and spoke up and out about some of my concerns. It was frustrating for things to happen after you get injured but I didn’t let my frustrations get in the way of the work we were creating.

If so, what happened and did it change?

Arti: I wrote an interlude, it was my first writing pitch to the group, called “How Many More Times In My Career Will I Have to Play A Dead White Person?” where only the people of color in the cast spoke and in it I finally got to ask the question we were all thinking and honestly it went pretty fucking terribly. I felt the air leave the room, everyone was uncomfortable, everyone had questions but no one wanted to say anything - and we ended up cutting rehearsal short and going home to process. This sparked the first of many difficult and necessary conversations we had around these topics that ended up being shaped into the climax of the show. But if our white cast mates hadn’t been willing to let go of their preconceptions of what a good ally is and really make space for us, if they had opted to cut around the issue to save their egos instead of moving through it with us, we never would’ve come out the other side

TJ: I got thrown into a chair and got my knee injured. The Neos took the necessary measures to make sure that the space was fully prepared for us when we would come in. They also made sure to provide me with the necessary resources to cover for any medical expenses for my injuries.

Has doing this show had an effect on you?   If so, what was it?

Arti: This show will always stay with me as the first time I've ever felt seen on stage.

Stephanie: I feel empowered. It’s not everyday you get to do such meaningful work with a bunch of super heroes. I’ll carry the lessons of the process and the message of this show through everything else I work on.

Rasell: Collaborating and being able to build up my own individual voice in the show was such a cool experience along with being able to explore boxing onstage. I love physical storytelling and this was a great way to see that be brought to life.

Jen: I don't take for granted that everyone has the same information, or that they understand the big picture in the same way (particularly with non-straight, non-white, non-male collaborators).  In devising work, it can be easy to assume that everyone is on the same page. When this assumption is made, communication can go wrong in all sorts of ways. It was good to be reminded of this pitfall, and also see people really try, in earnest, to make the collaboration process better.

TJ: Yes. It showed me that I didn’t have to be silent any more as a performer of color. I felt empowered to fight for my intellectual rights as a creator and I discovered how much of an important resource people of color are to modern day storytelling.

Tony: This play's process was a sacrifice for all of us. To facilitate that process and help put the pieces together was an honor. It's a testament to the Neo's wanting to build community not only in its audiences but its artistic partners too. Art that builds community is something I fight for in my artistry and makes 7 Fights unforgettable.

You have 3 more chances to see A Story Told In 7 Fights.

April 5th, 6th, and 7th at 7:30pm

Thursday is Pay What You Can

Get tickets at http://neofuturists.org/events/story-told-seven-fights/

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