The trip up the staircase towards Collaboraction Theatre reveals countless works of art ranging widely in style-from sculptures to impressionist works. The winding halls of the Flat Iron Arts building are a home for all sorts of artists. This feeling, of a space for any artist to put themselves out there and create, is much the same with Collaboraction’s Encounter Series Short Works Collection. From spoken word to the absurd and everything in between this collection showcases variety in seven devised works.
Written and performed by Alanisse Pineda this spoken word piece juxtaposes an optimistic young life with the realities and hardships soon to come. Pineda’s emotional honesty draws us in as she poetically weaves her story.
Directed by: Jess London-Shields
Of Quiet Birds
In this period piece we see a snap shot of parents (James Suttle and Jennifer White) at odds with their daughter Cora Lee (Jamie McDonald) when she wants to partake in segregation era lunch counter sit-ins. Writer Loretta Firekeeper Hawkins manages to create dense family dynamics in such a short piece, highlighting a situation that still echoes our current time.
Also Featuring: Tikeyan Wooten
Directed by:Dionne Hawkins
A young girl, Journey (Anah Ambuchi), hands everyone in the audience a flyer with the pictures and descriptions of 9 Black women and girls currently missing in Chicago. Her pain is palpable as she implores us for help. In a gut wrenching piece devised by B.B. Browne we feel the desperation of a community searching for their missing Black women and girls. The reality of this epidemic is made personal when we get to know Journey’s grandmother Jean (Shelia-Marie Robinson) right before she goes missing and see another member of the community Triniece (Jordan Rome) process this latest occurrence of an all too common problem. Although these characters are fictional, the ones on our flyers are not and they are only 9 of thousands missing that this work won’t let us forget.
Directed by: Brandi Jiminez Lee
This provocative, absurd work devised by Sami Ismat is a unique portrayal of international relations in the Middle East. This cartoonish satire conveys complicated political issues and convoluted dealings between a variety of countries without using a single line of dialogue or directly identifying specific characters. The physical work of the ensemble created dynamic caricatures and truly brought them to life.
Featuring and Co-Devisors: Marla Chinbat, Lisa Roti, Emi Barnes, Zoe Vulgamott, Sophia Pietrkowski, Mary Ruppert and Taylor Tolleson
I Am My Own Story, We Are The Play
Storycatchers Theatre presents a spoken word and musical piece about young people living on the South Side. Performers Jacob Clinkscales, Katerina Halbleib, Noah Raheem Robinson and Melvin Williams seamlessly move through the music of the piece from rhythmically speaking together to singing solos both with instrumental music and a capella in this excerpt from the Word Warriors’ Lost in Neverland.
Directed by: Meade Palidofsky
Composed and Arranged by: Ozivell Ecford and Myron Silberstein
Writer Kay Thompson’s work is an examination of grief and the variety of ways it affects people. Dyamone Hopkins and Jalyn Greene play a couple dealing with grief in drastically different ways that eventually clash. This work is an honest look at different coping mechanisms and how we can begin to work through pain with another person.
Directed by: Dominique Chestand
Tato-First Roots in Chicago
Sophia Pietrkowski begins this piece surround by family artifacts displayed as if we are in a museum. Pietrkowski initially portrays her grandfather as he briefly recounts his life, from surviving the Holocaust to settling in Chicago. Pietrkowski, who also wrote the piece, takes us on a journey rooted in community and examines the importance of family as she morphs from her ancestor to herself.
The Encounter series is perfect for lovers of new, devised works, especially those looking for voices that aren’t often heard.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Cydney Cleveland, Anthony Moseley, Sarah Moeller, Madi Delk, Emmy Weldon, Elsa Hiltner, Levi J. Wilkins, Liviu Pasare, Parker Langvardt, Joe Palermo, Rachel Watson, Jenna Meyers, Sunniva Holmlund, Jennifer Roseman, Samantha Joy, Taylor Tolleson, Manny Ortiz, Jordan Targash, Domenic Laury, Nathaniel Swift
Through January 27th
1579 N Milwaukee Ave (Flat Iron Art Building)
About the Author
Taryn Smith graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago's BFA Performance program in 2011. After graduating, she co-founded Realize Theatre Group and served as Executive Director for the company. She has filled numerous roles while with RTG both on and off stage including making her playwriting debut with her play America, Inc . She has worked as a stage manage, designer, director, and actor. Outside of the theatre world, Taryn is a licensed massage therapist.
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