Free Street Theater will present “Still/Here,” addressing a theme of a vision for a just and joyous Chicago. Created and performed by an ensemble of 17 artists from across the city, “Still/Here” incorporates ideas and opinions gathered from community members about what a just and joyous city looks like.
“Free Street was founded on the premise that theater should to be exactly what its name suggests: free performances focusing on topical issues, presented in public untraditional spaces,” says the company’s Artistic Director Coya Paz, who also directs this project. “For decades, we’ve been committed to creating joyful performances that are economically and geographically accessible to people all across Chicago. This year we wanted to explore why equity, joy, justice and sustainability matter in a city like our own, a city marked by vibrant neighborhood cultures that has been fighting systemic displacement and divestment for years.”
“Still/Here” focuses on a Chicago that is being rebuilt again and again. Who is the city designed to serve, how does our city’s past predict our future and what would our city look like if it were truly designed for all of its people? Part manifesto, part history lesson, part fever-dream of the future, “Still/Here” invites audiences to imagine a vision of a city that works for all.
Continuing its mission of building relationships and engaging with the community, “Still/Here” is based on material collected in workshops with community members across the city, as well as interviews and conversations with hundreds of people who were asked to answer the questions: “What’s still here? What isn’t? And what does your joy require?”
“Still/Here” is directed and developed by Coya Paz; the Co-Director and dramaturg is Tanuja Jagernauth; the movement director is Boogie McClarin; Will Pettway is the assistant director and additional dramaturgy is provided by Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel. The creators and performers include Agnotti Cowie, Alex Dahm, Alfonzo Khalil, Boogie McClarin, Casey VanWormer, Char Lee, JJ Romero, Liz Haas, Marilyn Carteño, Marya Spont-Lemus, Tanima, Taria Michelle Abram, Tristan Zemtseff, and Will Pettway. Additional writing and workshopping from Aaryanna Gariss, Annette Britton, Le’Var Artybridge, Nicolas del Valle, Sandra Swift, Sebastian Olayo, Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel and Ysaye McKeever. Sound design is by Tristan Zemtseff and set design is by Nina Castillo-D’Angier and Melissa Schlesinger.
50 Years of Free Street Theater
Creating original work since 1969, Free Street Theater is one of the longest-established theater companies in Chicago. Founded by Patrick Henry, the company featured a team of performers who were diverse in race and age, reflecting Henry’s vision to break down artificial barriers that divide us. Recognizing that community members who could not afford to pay for tickets were kept out of more traditional theaters, the company’s free performances gave underserved communities unprecedented opportunity to experience the arts. The interactive shows frequently incorporated the audiences, while still focusing on social issues of the time.
Now, the company produces new performances each year, still recognizing the goal of celebrating the voices and experiences of the underrepresented people of Chicago. Artistic Director Coya Paz has incorporated more community partnerships and strives to determine how theater can supplement or amplify issue-based organizing.
“Still/Here” tours late July to early August as part of The Chicago Park District’s Night Out in Parks summer series, and is appropriate for all ages. All performances are outdoors and free with ASL interpretation available.
Performance times and locations are:
Thursday, July 25th, 2019, South Shore Cultural Center (7059 S. South Shore Dr.), 6 p.m.
Saturday, July 27th, 2019, Humboldt Park (1400 N. Humboldt Dr.), 3 p.m.
Thursday, August 1st, 2019, Cornell Square (1809 W. 50th St.), 6 p.m.
Saturday, August 3rd, 2019, Walsh Park (1722 N. Ashland Ave.), 3 p.m.
Free Street Theater is proud to be an Arts Partner in Residence at The Chicago Park District and is being honored as part of The Year of Chicago Theater by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
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