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"Peacebook" Review- Collaboraction partners with Chicago's Night Out in the Parks

By Debra Davy

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On August 26th, 2017 the Goodman Theatre hosted Collaboraction’s 2nd Peacebook Festival, in 3 wonderfully entertaining segments consisting of 7-9 performances, each 7 minutes long. They were absorbing presentations on a multitude of themes, primarily focusing on the need to eradicate institutional endemic racism, as promulgated and perpetuated in the history of segregation in Chicago. The social issue-driven performances in this festival of theater, music, dance, spoken word and visual art were introduced by opening acts including “Step-Alive”; “The Brickheadz”; guest DJ”s Jevon Jackson, Shon Roka and Julio Bishop; Kevin Coval, founder of “Louder than a Bomb”; and Bril Barrett from the Chicago Human Rhythm Project.


  The youth pieces on each program are interspersed with fine performances by adult artists whose lives have been profoundly impacted by social and racial oppression. Collaboraction works together with artists, citizens throughout Chicago, and community activists “to create original theatrical experiences that push artistic boundaries and explore critical social issues with a diverse community of Chicagoans”. These works were new, alive, the students open and fearless. It was an afternoon and evening of exuberant impact and expression, with the participants on the stage and in the Albert Theater visibly moved.

 A synopsis of each work appears below: this reviewer only saw the second two sets, and has paraphrased the description of the first set from materials provided.

The plays will be performed free in groups at 3 Chicago neighborhood parks as part of the Chicago Park District’s Nights Out in The Parks series, as follows:


 PEACEBOOK Englewood at HAMILTON PARK, 513 W. 72nd Street, OCTOBER 5-7:

Thursday and Friday, October 5 and 6 at 7PM;

Saturday, October 7 Dome of Dance competition at 3PM, community meal and peace panel t 4PM, show at 5PM

 -HOODS by Kaye Winks, directed by Schoen Smith, assistant director Hannah Baker

The Chicago family composed of people from different neighborhoods in the city gets together in a group art therapy session to resolve their long-established communication problems.

Starring: Torey Adkins, Antonia Arcely, Brent Grihalva, Vered Hankin, Darren Jones, Andrew Muwange, Cassi Schiano, Schoen Smith, Andy Todaro, Kaye Winks

The Making of an Example Setter


-#HASHTAG WHO'S NEXT THE MUSICAL written and directed by Frederick Alphonso

A song invites us to join/live the justice revolution through facing our constructed narratives around crime.

Starring: Jeremy Noah, Asanté Deshaun, Alysa Perry, Sheila-Marie Robinson, Deshawn Holmes, Marc Prince, Andrea Ivy, Alexis Willis, Robert Luckett, Egypt Marie, James Shinkle

-CODE SWITCHING by Brian Keys, directed by Kristina Valada-Viars

This solo show examines the confrontation between a black man and society that takes us to the core of our prejudices.

Starring: Brian Keys

 -EXAMPLE SETTERS by The Example Setters, Artistic Director Sir Taylor, Group Leader Stacey Taylor,

A spoken word piece by teenagers that want to set The Example in the city of Chicago.

Starring: The Ensemble, comprised of Daquon Bakersville, LaShayla Bakersville, Kalya Johnson, Ledell Johnson, Meghan Sneed, Zachary Stewart, Sebastian Stewart, Montiara Taylor, Lee Wagner

 -DANDELIONS by Marsha Estell, directed by Mignon McPherson Stewart

 This is a heartfelt story about personal loss and about how violence and peace may be related.

Starring: Kenneth Johnson and Monette McLin

Thoughts on Race

-  TRIUMPHS, BURDENS, and LAUGHS choreographed by Elysia C. Banks

South Side native Elysia C.  Banks choreographed this dance highlighting the resilience of South Side communities and paying homage to their grit and fortitude.

Starring: Sarah Baker

 -THREAD devised by David Dastmalchian and Aisha June

LA actor David Dastmalchian (The Dark Knight, Ant Man, Twin Peaks) joins Chicago  Collaboraction Teen Peacemaker ensemble member Aisha June to write and perform a clever and personalized piece about peace in Chicago. 

Starring: David Dastmalchian and Aisha June**

**Note: This was presented here at the Goodman Theatre, but will be presented as part of the Hamilton Park tour

 -Make Peace by Yuri Basho Lane, directed by Elizabeth Lovelady, Human Bandbox Conductor Yuri Basho Lane

A musical exploration of peace in Chicago.

Starring: J-Spin, Marcus Dunleavy, Ang13, Jabowen Dixon

PEACEBOOK HERMOSA at KELVYN PARK, 4343 W. Wrightwood, October 19-21:

Thursday and Friday, October 19 and 20 at 7PM;

Saturday, October 21 Dome of Dance competition at 3PM,

Community meal and peace panel at 4PM, show at 5PM



This non-traditional theatre piece asks the audience to join together to create gentle and joyful connections between strangers.

Starring: Ann Kreitman

 -FINDING A LOVING MOTHERLAND, director/lead deviser Sami Hussain Ismat

An exploration of what it means to be a Syrian refugee who escapes war to find a new set of problems in a new land.

Starring: Margo Chervony, Sophia Pietrkowski, Izadorius Tortuga

-RECIPE FOR PEACE, lead deviser Dionne Hawkins, Artistic Director, Austin Town Hall Theater Company

The host of a cooking show directs the feuding participants to add ingredients to create peace.

Starrring: Zyrienae Chambliss, Cleveland Gidney, Dionne Hawkins, MiCayla Jones, Jamie McDonald, Dannielle Patterson, Adam Lane Radford, Takeisha Shanklin, Bettina Van Pelt, LaTilya White, C.J. Williams


A wryly humorous and deeply affecting piece examining the process of citizenship, and the quest for a home(land) for immigrants.

Starring: Dr. Ada Cheng

 -CONFLICT devised by the Collaboraction Teen Peacemaker Ensemble, (Crystal Alagna, Isabel Bravo, Marshall Nakamura, Gio Ortega, Gyna Thomas, Aidee Truitt, Amanda Ace Vargas), directed by Luis Crespo, costumes by Christina Alagna

The Collaboraction Teen Peacemaker Ensemble grapples with the real cost of hate in Chicago. 

Starring: Sophia Básteounes, Crystal Alagna, Courtney Beckford, Youssouf Doumbia, Jacob Flores, Gyna Thomas, Briana“Dory” Smith

Code Switching


-BARBARISM by Jason Grote, directed by Iris Sowalt

A woman with PTSD and apocalyptic survivor’s guilt takes us on an exploration of the gilded cages in her mind as she reveals the fragility of the human spirit.

Starring: Niki Gee

 -VUELTAS adapted by Sandra Delgado from the writings of Sammy Rangel, author of “Fourbears: Myths of Forgiveness” and TED Talk standout; directed by Miranda Gonzalez

 An inspirational story of hope and redemption.

Starring: Sammy Rangel, Karla Galva

 -ECKHART PARK ECHOES by Nancy García Loza, directed by Juan Castaneda, assistant director Gilbert Saenz

This one-person moving story lets the audience see and feel Loza’s aunt’s influence on her family as her life unfolds for forty years in West Town. 

Starring: Nancy García Loza


 PEACEBOOK AUSTIN at LAFOLLETTE PARK, 1333 N. Laramie, November 2-4;

Thursday and Friday, November 2 and 3 at 7PM;

Saturday, November 4 Dome of Dance competition at 3PM,

Community meal and peace panel at 4PM, show at 5PM

 -EmpoWOMENt choreographed by Bril Barrett and Star Dixon

Chicago tap dance legend Bril Barrett choreographs this team of female dancers exploring tap-dance as an effective form of protest and a powerful catalyst for change.

Starring: Tyler Booker, Tanzania Covington, Charlene Dixon, Alexandra Fryson, Keyama Latimer, Kelly McKinzie, Aviance Soain, Audrey Wright

 -HIGH AND DRY by Greg Hardigan, directed by Genevieve Fowler

A sheltered family man has a chance encounter with a homeless woman on the street; he abandons her and must confront his guilt and responsibility.

Starring: Greg Hardigan and Renee Lockett

 -DEAR MASCULINITY by Eneale Pickett, directed by Rain Wilson 

Men read letters to the concept of masculinity, challenging its stereotypes and revealing its negativity.

Starring: Ozivell Ecford, Matthew Lewis, Quann Logan, Garrett Pauli, Eneale Pickett

 -Some Thoughts On Race and Racism In Chicago From Some People Who Aren't Sure What To Do And Who Sat Down And Talked About It written and directed by Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman, assistant directors Esteban Arevalo amd Dianne Nora

 Perceptions of race seen through white eyes, using words from a collection of interviews that shed light on how we see ourselves and each other as a community.

Starring: Brandon Boler, Jessie Cordell, Bianca Corral, Michael Dritto, Kimberley Florian, Dyamone Hopkins

How Long Do I Have to Continue to Prove Myself


-THE MAKING OF AN EXAMPLE SETTER lead deviser Sir Taylor of The Example Setters, directed by Collaboraction Artistic Director Anthony Moseley, assistant director Abbey Burgess

 A new and vibrant story of healing in Chicago.

Starring: Taylor Barfield, Renee

 -QUIET TIME by Erica Mann Ramis, directed by Nathaniel Swift, assistant director Abbey Burgess

A woman's thoughts are played out on stage as she meditates in an effort to navigate the maze of her grief after the loss of her husband. 

Starring: Rebecca Joy Fletcher, Zach Bloomfield, Alyson Wong, McKenna Leisman, Tayshaun Lang, Huy Nguyen

 -THE HIGH PRIESTESS devised by Laura Biagi

Inspired by the Tarot, this performance art piece revolves around the power to give social meaning to sounds and the concept of failing and undoing by meditating on four alphabets: Sanskrit, Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin.

Starring: Laura Biagi and Tolga Yenilmez

  -17 TO (NEW LIFE) written by GQ and Tyrone Taylor, Music by GQ, Directed by GQ

A ritual of healing based on a life including murder, incarceration, eventual freedom, and the search for transformation.

Starring: Tyrone Taylor, GQ, Jillian Burfete



These 24 works of collaborative art unite more than 200 artists, who run the gamut of experience from household names to local activists for peace. The performance pieces themselves range the spectrum from solo pieces to large-scale collaborations. They all achieve the goal of creating firm, real, true connections with the people in every neighborhood and community across Chicago-land.


For tickets and information, go to the collaboraction/peacebook website


Email inquiries can be directed to [email protected]

Telephone: (312) 226-9633


All photos by Joel Maisonet




Published on Sep 06, 2017

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