October 23, 2019

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.​

Teatro Vista presents HOPE: Part II of a Mexican Trilogy 

Written By Evelina Fernandez
Directed by Ricardo Gutiérrez & Cheryl Lynn Bruce

through October 27

at The Den Theatre 1330 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Hope follows the voyage of the Morales family through the turbulent, transformational ‘60s, a time marked by a young new president, the dawn of the sexual revolution and the rock ‘n’ roll explosion. Filled with nostalgic ballads, fantasy sequences and strong doses of humor, Hope pops with keen visuals and poignant storytelling as it offers a glimpse into the life of a Mexican American family in ‘60s America.

The cast features Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel (Elena), Eddie Martinez (Charlie), Ayssette Muñoz (Gina) and Tommy Rivera-Vega (Rudy), with Janyce Caraballo (Betty), Andrea Cañizares-Fernandez (Mari), Nick Mayes (Johnny) Victor Maraña (Enrique) and Joaquin Rodarte (Bobby). Designers are Jose Manuel Diaz (set), Sanja Manakowski (costumes) and Joe Burke (lighting and video design). Stage manager is Alden Vasquez. Sylvia Lopez is Managing Director. 

Tickets are $25-$35 and can be found here

Some free tickets are available: https://www.freetix.org/get

The Gift Theatre presents Kentucky

Written by Leah Nanako WInkler

Directed by Chika Ike

Through November 16

at Theatre Wit 1229 W Belmont

When her sister, a born-again Christian, decides to marry at 22, NYC-transplant Hiro, takes it upon herself to return home to Kentucky to stop the wedding and salvage her sister’s future. Identity, religion, and love collide in this unique coming of age story.

The cast and production team includes Paul D'Addario, Martel Manning and Hannah Toriumi with Maryam Abdi, Ian Voltaire Deane, Emjoy Gavino, Helen Joo Lee, Michael E. Martin, Emilie Modaff, Ana Silva, Jess Vann, Graham Carlson, Kim Fukawa, Tamarus Harvell, Gabrielle Maalihan, WIl Ann Whedbee, Harmony Zhang, Ryan Emmons (scenic design), Rachel Sypniewski (costume design), Rachel Levy (lighting design) and Alex Oparka (stage manager)

Tickets are $24-42 are can be purchased here

Some free tickets are available: https://www.freetix.org/get

There will be a captioned performance on Sunday, November 3.

Aguijón Theater presents Exquisita Agonía

Written by Nilo Cruz

Directed by Marcela Muñoz

through November 24

at Aguijón Theater, 2707 N. Laramie Avenue, Chicago

World famous soprano Millie Marcel is unable to return to her elegant jet setting life after the death of her equally sophisticated and famous composer husband. An obsession with knowing exactly who received her husband's heart leads Millie on a relentless pursuit to meet its recipient and, inadvertently, uncovering devastating truths within her own family.

The cast and production team features Rosario Vargas, Israel Balzandor Menedez, Elio Leturia, Victor Salinas, Andrea Leguizamon, Marcopolo Soto and Oswaldo Calderon.

All tickets are $10-30 and can be purchased here

First Floor Theatre presents Sugar in Our Wounds 

Written by Donja R. Love

Directed by  Mikael Burke

Through November 23

at The Den Theatre 1330 N. Milwaukee Ave.

On a plantation during the Civil War, a mystical tree stretches toward heaven. It protects James, a young slave, while he reads newspapers about the imminent possibility of freedom, as war rages on. When a brooding stranger arrives, James and his makeshift family take him in. Soon, an unexpected bond leads to a striking romance, and everyone is in uncharted territory. The award-winning SUGAR IN OUR WOUNDS is part of playwright Donja R. Love’s trilogy of black love at pivotal moments in history, helmed by Mikael Burke, director of last season’s acclaimed production of HOODED, OR BEING BLACK FOR DUMMIES.

Cast and production team include Ashley Crowe, Renee Lockett, Grainne Ortlieb, Londen Shannon, Michael Turrentine, Joy Ahn (scenic design), Madeleine Rose Byrne (costume design), Eric Watkins (lighting design), Sam Clapp (sound design), Sana Selemon (dialect coach), Ian Maryfield (violence and intimacy design), Caitlin McCarthy and Cole von Glahn (co-production management), Emma Franklin (stage manager) and Julia Toney (assistant stage manager)

Tickets are $35 can be purchased here.

Some free tickets are available: https://www.freetix.org/get

Urban Theater Company presents Back in the Day

Written by Miranda Gonzalez

Directed by Raquel Torre

Choreographed by Breon Arzell

Through November 2

at Urban Theater, 2620 W Division

Back in the Day follows three Northside Chicago dance crews, The All Stars, led by Jose "Gringo" Echevarría and their frenemies, The Culitos and Imported Taste when African-American, Latino and LGBTQ dominated the 1980's after hours scene in such legendary local juice bars as Jenal's and Medusas. Back in the Day is much more than the memories of one man about an era in Chicago's history of urban dance and music. It is a fun, poignant portrait of that period, enriched by the voices of dozens of members of those dance crews who shared their experiences and stories with the play's cast and crew during its initial run. It is now part of the collective history of a forgotten aspec of Chicago House music.

The cast includes Christian D. Wilson, Sofia Tew, Isaly Viana, Omar Fernández, Adriel Irizarry, Matty Robinson, Gabriela Castillo, Mateo Hernández, Jermaine Robinson, Jr., Brittany Harlin, Nathaniel Andrew and Angelíca Grace.

Tickets are $25-30 and can be purchased here

October 22, 2019

A month ago, a group of Chicagoans met in the glorious Hyde Park Arts Center, noshing on delicious food from The Nile, to read the words of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. As part of our salon reading series, we sought to unpack and explore the well known text by casting a few of our favorite actors to breathe the roles anew: Terri Lynne Hudson as Laura, Abbas Salem as Tom, Lars Ebsworth as Jim, and Haley Bolithon reading stage directions. Tamara Rozofsky was originally cast as Amanda, but unfortunately had to step down last minute so our managing director Elana Elyce heroically cold-read the role.

We arrived at this play when we began discussions in rebooting our salon reading series.  I reached out to a few of our favorite actors with the simple question: What are you dream roles? What's on your actor's buck list?  Terri Lynne Hudson put Laura on the top of her list and all of us as a group collectively gasped -- WHY HADN'T THIS HAPPENED YET?!  We sat down with Terri to talk about her journey with this story, what was important to her about the retelling and cast the reading from there.  What transpired in September was several dreams in the making.  

 Once there was time to catch their breaths, we asked the artists and our staff a few questions about their experience...

How, if at all, did this experience change your understanding of the play and the characters within?

"There is SO much of a difference between "here is what I think it would be like if the world perceived me as ___" and "he is what my life is like because the world perceives me as ___" and although there is a lot that can be achieved by actors via craft and exercise, getting a Laura whose characterization and subtext just live in her body because that's her body, and getting a Tom whose sexuality isn't just implied by the lack of women in his life makes the play more visceral and more real to me. Also, having the family not be white speaks to the lived stories of southern black wealth and class structure culture, which is real and documented but not discussed or portrayed very often at all."

                                                                                                                         - Terri Lynn Hudson, actor - Laura

Since I had never seen or fully read it, it was pretty much just a new play for me.  The only thing I ever had full knowledge of is Laura, her disability and that she had a caller who wasn't that into her. And the menagerie of course.  Everything else, brand new.

                                              - Elana Elyce, Chicago Inclusion Project staff member and actor - Amanda

To be honest! That was the first time I actually payed attention to the script. I had always surpass the script or half-assed was engaged in it to the point I would forget what the actual show was about. This experience kept me engaged and I walked away thinking “I’d see THIS production of the show.”

                                                                           - Jess Vann, Chicago Inclusion Project staff member

"Jim is so totally into Tom, cause why wouldn't he be - Tom is a damn dreamboat (this was my first time realizing that). I bet those shoebox poems are GOOD. Jim is also a self-centered egomaniac who wants everyone's attention all the time. "Look at my shadow across the wall" has never had any meaning for me and this time I was just like, UGH. JIM. OF COURSE. YOUR SHADOW IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. Jim is also super sad and sympathetic in his disappointed high school hopes, but mostly I was like COME ON JIM, THIS ISN'T ABOUT YOUUUUU. Somehow I always just thought the guys at the factory didn't like poets, since Tom has always been a sexless automaton, and this time I finally understood he's up against homophobia. I love Amanda and want her to stop absolutely everything she's doing and do other things, but I also kind of get what she's saying. She looks for every flipping avenue to find a path through for her family, and I was legitimately worried for Amanda and Laura when Tom left- how were they going to keep the lights on? Keep the apartment? What options do they have?"

                                                                                                - Meg Harkins, Salon Reading producer

Stay tuned for details about our upcoming readings and events...!

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