Collaboraction 13th Annual Sketchbook Review – Doing That “Crazy” Chicago Storefront Theater Thing

Just as the premiere marathon performance of the 14 World Premier Theatrical Works that comprise Collaboraction’s 13th Annual Sketchbook performance was closing,  coincidentally Tracy Letts was at the Tony Awards giving an acceptance speech where he acknowledged all the actors in Chicago storefront theaters doing their “crazy” thing—and noting their obligation to do so.


When creative fires get started there is always a first spark, and it seems that Collaboraction has taken on the job of being one of the leaders to give creative urges a voice--- and perhaps a camera or other multimedia tool too.


This June 5 – June 13 Sketchbook Festival in Chicago’s Flat Iron Arts Building (1579 North Milwaukee Avenue, 3rd Floor) can be seen in bite-sized chunks named for various CTA lines, in keeping with the festival’s theme of “destination”. 


The Black Line includes two one-act plays with an intermission—“Snapshot” by Brett C. Leonard and directed by Anthony Moseley and “Deadpan” by Bob Gludini and directed by Scott Illingworth.


The Green Line is described as a “full length devised piece” –“Price Point” , combining movement, theater, song and image to examine the (poor) state of the American Dream, devised by Honeypot Performance.


The Blue Line includes two one-act plays with an intermission—

a very funny and well-acted “Hospital” by Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman, Diana Rose and hyper-flexible and expressive actor Robin Toller and

“WeatherVane” by Carolyn Hoerdemann and Tony Werner.


The marathon of shorts is called the Brown Line—nine 7-minute plays including: 

“Native American Princess” by Stanley Toledo and directed by Elana Boulos;


“Everything is Permitted” by Chelsea M Marcantel and directed by Mignon Stewart;


“Darkness” by Adam Joshua Seidel and directed by Sarah Gitenstein;

“Minus You” by Jennifer Barclay, directed by Dustin Whitehead;

Survey No.5 by Alex Lubischer;

“Shuffle Off” by Gregory Hardigan and directed by Danny Bernardo;


“Theater McGuiver” co-Devised by Jenny Lynn Christofferson, Dan Krall and Jaci Entwistle;



“The Most Delicious Little House for Beginners (Clip Her Small to Fit the Boards) devised and performed by Kelly Rafferty and Heather Warren-Crow; and 

"The Sorrows of Young Werther” a very fact-paced quasi-rap comedy redux of Goethe’s biography by the Q Brothers and directed by Kimberly Senior.


If one remains mindful that you are looking at kindling at best, mainly fleeting creative sparks and not full-blown bonfires you’ll for sure find something in this large mix that will make you smile or ponder.  It’s a hip place, with beer flowing and light peeking through the ceiling of the centennial Flat Iron building that is the trendy Wicker Park heart and center.


Collaboraction was founded by Director Kimberly Senior and since 1999 Anthony Moseley has been at the helm as Artistic Director.  According to Moseley, “In the beginning, we were really pushing the form of theatre to become more event-like, more multi-disciplinary.  Along the way we started throwing extravagant art parties and that work became sort of cross training for the theatre.  Recently, we have moved towards socially aware, original devised work, like our hit show Crime Scene about violence in Chicago which is touring the parks this summer.”


Moseley and Letts seem to share a love of Chicago as the true home for creating live theater.  Moseley says, “Only in Chicago do we have the real convergence of a wealth of theatre artists, and the audience and community to support them .  We are in the midst of a true cultural cluster.  Chicago is a Napa Valley of theater making.  Theatre heals, it innovates and it deepens our connection to one another. ..the abundance of theatre in Chicago gives our city a cultural advantage.  On a national level, we are just beginning to see the impact of Chicago theatre.”


You can see some first stirrings between June 5- June 30. 



3rd Floor Flat Iron Arts Building

1579 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park

$25, $15 for students, educators and industry or an All Access Festival Pass for $60/$40 for students and industry.


Purchase tickets and All-Access passes at  or call 312 226 9633


Photos:  Anna Sodziak

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