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Collaboraction launches first season at Kennedy-King College August 15-17 with 21 short works of theater, dance and spoken word

Collaboraction Theatre Company will launch its 2019-20 mainstage season at its new south side performance home, Kennedy-King College in Englewood, with its fourth annual Peacebook Festival, Thursday through Saturday, August 15-17.

Peacebook is Collaboraction’s annual collection of 21 world premiere short performances about peace and peacemaking in Chicago. This year’s Peacebook “chapters” are newly created by a diverse list of emerging and established Chicago artists/activists, including Bril Barrett, J. Nicole Brooks, Nambi E. Kelley and Sir Taylor.

Their varied pieces of short theater, dance, music and spoken word, each seven minutes or less, are divided into three programs of seven works each. The programs will premiere at Kennedy-King College’s state-of-the-art, 292-seat mainstage theater in Englewood on three consecutive nights: Thursday, August 15 at 7 p.m. (LaFollette Park program); Friday, August 16 at 7 p.m. (Douglas Park program); and Saturday, August 17 at 7 p.m. (Hamilton Park program).

Each performance is followed by a “Crucial Conversation” moderated by Collaboraction Managing Director, Dr. Marcus Robinson, to give audiences a chance to share insight and wisdom spurred by the performance, to cultivate knowledge and empathy, and inspire a personal desire to take action and make a difference in Chicago’s Peace Movement.

In addition, on Saturday, August 17, from Noon to 6 p.m., Collaboraction invites the community to Kennedy-King College to participate in free interactive theater workshops, panel discussions about increasing the peace in Chicago and a free community meal.

Kennedy-King College Theater is located at 740 W. 63rd St., one-half block east of Halsted St. in Chicago’s Englewood community. Tickets are free but reservations are recommended for Collaboraction’s 21-show, Peacebook Festival world premiere launch weekend. To reserve, visit or call the Collaboraction box office, (312) 226-9633.

Following opening weekend, Collaboraction will tour the three programs to three different Chicago parks as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks. All park performances are free. Fall tour locations, dates and times are:

LaFollette Park, 1333 N. Laramie Ave., Austin
Friday, September 13 at 6 p.m., special opening performance by Loretta “Firekeeper” Hawkins
Saturday, September 14, pre-show workshop and free community meal at 11:30 a.m., performance at 1 p.m., opening performance TBA

Douglas Park 1401 S. Sacramento Ave., North Lawndale
Friday, September 20 at 6 p.m., special opening performance by Prince Roc
Saturday, September 21, pre-show workshop and free community meal at 11:30 a.m., performance at 1 p.m., opening performance TBA

Hamilton Park, 513 W. 72nd St., Englewood
Friday, September 28 at 6 p.m., special opening performance by Jason Robinson
Saturday, September 29, pre-show workshop and free community meal at 11:30 a.m., performance at 1 p.m., special opening performance by Loretta “Firekeeper” Hawkins

Following is the 2019 Peacebook Festival program line-up (at press time):

Peacebook - La Follette Park

Let it Go by Ozivell Ecford
An original story electrified with new music, Let It Go grapples with the consequences of seeking revenge through gang violence and challenges us to consider how cycles of violence can be broken.

Ozivell Ecford has produced, written and composed for independent films, plays, local artists, bands, organizations and projects like The Lullaby Project in partnership with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Carnegie Hall. He is currently a staff artist and activist for the award winning Storycatchers Theatre. Ecford (O.Z Bangaz) also manages a hip-hop leadership program that he created called “iLEAD” (I Lead, Encourage, Act, and Dance). He was nominated for the 3ARTs award in Teaching Artistry in 2014, 2015 and 2016. 3Arts ranked him in the top 5 Teaching Artist in Chicago. Follow him on Instagram: @ozbangaz, Facebook: @oz.bangaz

Mulatto written and directed by Ahmed Al-Hassan
This monologue examines how different people and generations react to oppression and trauma in contrasting ways by following a woman working to ensure the safety of her family.

Ahmed Al-Hassan is an emerging playwright, choreographer and director. He received his B.A. in Communications, Media Arts and Theatre from Chicago State University. During undergrad and post graduation he wrote, choreographed, directed and acted at Chicago State Theatre in the annual 10 Minute Play Festival. Mulatto is his debut production in Chicago’s theater scene.

Mushrooms Essences and Flower Essences
An unlikely pair discover they are soul mates while radically healing their sexual trauma.

Roger That written and performed by Shaquille McDaniel
This invigorating, hip-hop performance inspired by the theme song of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood speaks to the struggles people face everyday on the south side of Chicago.

Shaquille McDaniel, born on Chicago’s south side, has been influenced by music artists like James Brown, Michael Jackson and Jackie Wilson. McDaniel performs by the name of melanin7even. His first project, 24/7 chi, was released in 2019.

Seeking Relief by James Hesla, directed by Juan Castaneda
Taken from actual cases before the immigration court in Chicago, this monologue seeks to highlight the experiences of asylum seekers who arrive at American borders from Latin America.

James Hesla is a writer, actor, and educator. His plays have been produced in Arizona, Hawaii, New York, Wisconsin, Washington and Washington DC. He teaches theater at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Juan Cantaneda is part of Peacebook for the third time. He has worked as a director, assistant director, dramaturg and actor with companies like UrbanTheater Company, Teatro Vista, Steep Theatre, Halcyon Theatre, Broken Nose Theatre, Colectivo El Pozo, Arc Theatre, Waltzing Mechanics, Promethean Theatre, Right Brain Project and Intrinsic Theatre.

Stress, My Best Friend written and performed by Lawrence Mead, directed by Carla Stillwell
Mead’s rap promotes mental health awareness in urban communities.

HUEY Gang's own, The Law of HUEY, aka Lawrence Mead, is a hip-hop artist with a big heart for the people and a mind to change the way people look at artists from Chicago.

Carla Stillwell is a native of Chicago, working for 3 decades as an actor and director, and as the Artistic Director at MPAACT Theatre in Chicago. She is also an award winning playwright and director. She’s a teaching artist for MPAACT, Storycatchers, Victory Gardens and a creative writing workshop host at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and Columbia College Chicago. She is a contributor to HowlRound writing two popular articles, “What do we tell our young Playwrights who are Black” and “Diversity: It’s a Noun” and hosts her own podcast, High Tea with Carla Stillwell.

ALOFT devised by Jordan Tragash and May Treuhaft-Ali
A devised piece inspired by the transformation of the Stewart School in Uptown from one of the 50 schools closed by CPS in 2013 to an luxury apartment complex, as a symbol of widespread inequality and gentrification.

Jordan Tragash is a Chicago actor and director and veteran of Collaboraction’s Encounter Series. Past credits include A Red Orchid Theater, Eclipse Theater, Facility Theatre, Otherworld Theater Company and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, among others. Learn more at

May Treuhaft-Ali is a director and playwright. She is the author of RESISTANCE, which had its world premiere with the Semicolon Theatre Company in New York. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Treuhaft-Ali also studied theater and performance at Trinity College in Dublin.

Peacebook - Douglas Park

Broke Down Drone by Willie Round and G. Riley Mills, directed by J. Nicole Brooks
In a rundown recording studio on the west side of Chicago, two young men attempt to fix a broken drone which they see as their ticket to success and a better life.

Willie “Prince Roc” Round is a songwriter, playwright, videographer, mentor and hip-hop artist from Chicago’s West Side who has performed across the country. He opened for Grammy Award-winning artist Lil Wayne as well as Gucci Mane. He does extensive outreach in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, and he has mentored inner city youth as part of the College Mentoring Experience as well as his own youth movement called MUD LIFE (Motivating the Urban to be Determined). He holds a BA in Communications Radio and Television Broadcasting from Central State University.

Riley Mills began writing for the professional theater at age 17 and has twice won the Jeff Award for Best New Work. His play, The Hundred Dresses, debuted at Chicago Children’s Theatre and was produced off-Broadway at The Atlantic Theatre Company in New York City. His plays have been seen on stages such as Mixed Blood Theatre, Prop Thtr, Timeline Theatre, The Apollo Theatre, Mary-Arrchie Theatre, Midnight Circus, Royal George Theatre and Orlando Repertory Theatre, among others. His play Toast was produced in Collaboraction’s first Sketchbook. In 2010, he co-founded a not-for-profit company called The Bookwallah Organization that collects and distributes storybooks to orphanages across the world (

Nicole Brooks is an actor, author and director. Selected acting credits include Lottery Day (Goodman Theatre, New Stages Festival) and Beyond Caring, Death Tax and RACE (Lookingglass Theatre Company). Directing credits include Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting, Thaddeus & Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure and Black Diamond the Years the Locusts Have Eaten. Brooks is author of HeLa, Fedra Queen of Haiti, Black Diamond and 3 Weeks With Her Honor Jane Byrne. Television credits include recurring roles on Showtime’s The Chi and Comedy Central’s South Side. She is a mutli-award winning artist honored by 3Arts, TCG Fox Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Black Ensemble Theatre Playwright of the Year, LA Ovation and Black Theatre Alliance. She is an ensemble member of Lookingglass Theatre Company.

City Echoes written and performed by Aaron Evans, directed by Rose Shapiro
A businesswoman and a trumpet player develop a brief, but powerful connection through art and music in this intimate devised piece.

Aaron Evans was raised on the south side of Chicago. He holds a music degree from Olivet Nazarene University. He fell in love with acting after being part of West Side Story his senior year of college. He wrote, directed and acted in his short film I'm Good, and directs music videos, promo videos and commercials. Follow him on Instagram: @supermadcrazyhype, Facebook: Aaron Evans, and Youtube: Aclipofaaron.

Rose Shapiro is directing her second work for Collaboraction’s Peacebook Festival. She first worked with Collaboraction as an artistic intern, assisting with the Encounter Series and A Blue Island in the Red Sea. Shapiro is an Ensemble Member at Imagination Theater and a teaching artist throughout Chicago. 

Dance Tribute to The Chi-Lites by Kasey Foster
A dance tribute to The Chi-Lites, an internationally celebrated Chicago R&B band that began in Hyde Park in 1959, highlighting moments of love and empathy.

Kasey Foster is a performer, choreographer, producer and director in Chicago. She recently performed in The Steadfast Tin Soldier at Lookingglass Theatre, and on camera in IFC's Documentary Now!. Foster sings with bands Grood, Babe-alon 5, Old Timey, This Must be the Band and Nasty Buoy. She has created over 40 original works, and produces two annual series called Dance Tribute and The ACTual Show. Foster is an Artistic Associate at Lookingglass Theatre, and a member of Actors Equity Association. Website:

Everybody Loves Pizza, don’t they? by Antonio Brunetti, directed by Dan Taube
Pepperoni pizza is the new melting pot. The process of making a delicious pepperoni pizza becomes a metaphor of the ingredients that make our city diverse and special.

Antonio Brunetti returned to Chicago in 2008 after a few years working in Europe. Credits there include Oleanna and The Glass Menagerie with Altesschauspielhaus in Stuttgart, Germany; Fool For Love at the 100 Grad Theatre Festival in Berlin, Germany; Macbeth in Stuttgart and Friedriechshafen, Germany; The Graduate at the Stuttgart Theatre Center and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Piedescalso Café in Dublin, Ireland. He trained in Germany under the tutelage of Julian Knab, a pupil of Jerzy Grotowski. Brunetti was born, raised and educated in Chicago. He proudly became a Trap Door company member with Chaste in the spring of 2010.

Daniel Taube is a graduate of New York University and received his BFA in Acting from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. While at NYU, Taube studied at Playwrights Horizons Theatre School, Circle-in-the-Square and apprenticed to Broadway Director Michael Parva and The Director’s Company. Also a graduate of DePaul University, Taube received his MFA in Directing from DePaul University’s The Theatre School. He has also been the Artistic Director of two Chicago Theaters, Thunder Road Ensemble and Madison Street Theatre. He has also acted, directed and produced with Trap Door, Prop Theatre, Circle Theatre, Chicago Dramatists and Curious Theatre Branch among others. More at

Rentals by Greg Hardigan
Three fathers contemplate making sense of their chaotic, unpredictable, and sometimes violent world.

Greg Hardigan is an actor, writer, director, husband and father. He was a member of The Hypocrites Theater Company, and appeared in many of their productions. He has also performed with A Red Orchid, Shattered Globe, Eclipse, Redmoon, Collaboraction and many more. As a playwright, Hardiganb’s work has been produced in Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, London, Brighton, Edinburgh and Singapore. He has lived on the near-Southwest Side of Chicago for the last 17 years, in the North Lawndale neighborhood with his wife and two children.

A Star is Born: Making Greatness by Bril Barrett
What does it take to make greatness? Knowledge of your history, exposure to the legends, commitment to the dance, and a willingness to create! M.A.D.D. Rhythms takes a deep dive into the consciousness of tap. 

Bril Barrett is a creative tap dancer whose mission is to preserve and promote tap dance as a percussive art form, foster respect and admiration for the history and creators of tap, and continuously create opportunities for the art form and its practitioners. Barrett is the founder of M.A.D.D. (Making A Difference Dancing) Rhythms, director of The Chicago Tap Summit and founder of The M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Academy. He has taught and/or performed in Canada, Germany, Finland, Turkey, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Albania, Amsterdam and across the U.S. He has started many outreach programs in Chicago’s public schools, park districts, a performing arts high school in Gary, Indiana, and several After School Matters programs on Chicago’s west and south sides.

Peacebook - Hamilton Park

Basslines written and performed by Antwon Funches
A poem that showcases the beauty of being Black through heritage, history and music.

Antwon Funches is a 21-year-old Chicago based theater, music and image artist who documents the world from a Black male, south side, Buddhist lens. A resident of Marquette Park, he is a year away from graduating with a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Follow him on Instagram @Funches_Antwon.

Chicago Food Justice devised by Sophia Pietrkowski and Madi Delk
A devised investigation of our relationship to food, and how food accessibility in Chicago is directly linked to systematic inequality and oppression.

Madi Delk is a director and deviser, focusing on creating theater with measurable change within communities. Directing/devising credits include Once a Felon, Always a Felon and Fourth Wave Bunny (The Theatre School at DePaul University). Recent credits include Assistant Director for Long Way Home with the Q Brothers Collective and dramaturg for Remy Bumppo’s Born Yesterday (Jeff winner for Best Production). Delk has also worked with Victory Gardens, Directors Lab Chicago, Free Street Theatre, Erasing the Distance, Nothing Without a Company, and Otherworld Theatre. Madi is currently the Associate Producer at Collaboraction. More at

Sophia Pietrkowski, a Chicago native, is a devised theater artist, actor and community activist. She graduated in May of 2018 with her BFA degree in Acting from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Recently relocated back to Chicago, she is a company member of Collaboraction Theater Company, the youngest member to date. A graduate from the Chicago Academy for the Arts, her roots are well grounded to her home. Pietrkowski found her passion for creating original theatrical works at Northwestern's Cherubs program. Since her move back to Chicago, she has completed nine short films, a recurring web series role and four live theatrical performances. Most recently, she closed a one woman show in tribute of her grandfather as part of Collaboraction's Encounter Series.

Free Range written and performed by Tarnynon Onumonu, directed by Hannah Baker
A testimony of how systematic racism is reflected in Chicago’s city planning and accessibility to public transportation, through the eyes of a native southsider, immigrant daughter and a working class citizen. 

Tarnynon (Ty-yuh-nuh) Onumonu is an emerging writer, performing and visual artist born and raised in the Jeffery Manor neighborhood on Chicago’s southeast side. She is proud of and humbled by her south side citizenship and West African lineage. Aside from her art practice, she is committed to social justice work and youth empowerment. As a teaching artist with Free Write Arts and Literacy and other youth centered organizations, she marries her creative work and her desire for social service engagement. Instagram: @tyyuhnuh

Moon Cry written and performed by Foreign Prophesy
This spoken word, music infused piece is a call for acceptance of cultural differences, and encourages speaking up about how cultural differences are okay and not inferior.

Ode to Mama Obama by Nambi E. Kelley, directed by Patrese D. McClain
A short play in which a struggling, young woman sees herself in Michelle Obama’s Chicago roots, but wonders how their lives ended up in such different places.

Nambi E. Kelley, an award winning actress/playwright, has performed across the country, including many shows at the Goodman Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre, has been seen on several television shows, including Elementary, Person of Interest, Madam Secretary, Chicago PD, Chicago Justice, and has toured internationally. Also an accomplished playwright, Kelley is currently serving in residence at New Victory Theater and is a fellow at the Dramatist Guild Foundation in New York City. Kelly served as playwright in residence at the National Black Theatre in New York, is a recipient of the Prince Price and the 2018-19 Writers Alliance Grants from the Dramatists Guild Foundation. Her adaptation of Native Son was the highest grossing production in Court Theatre’s 60-year history, has enjoyed productions across the country, most notably, at Yale Repertory Theatre, and will premiere in NYC in 2019. Kelley is working on several commissions, including from Marin Theatre Company, Court Theatre, North Carolina Rep, American Blues Theater (proud ensemble member), and is also in development with several television and film projects. More at

Patrese D. McClain is a professional regional theater and network television actress originally from Chicago. After graduating with her BFA from Howard University, she received her master's degree from Pennsylvania State University as the fourth black woman to graduate from their prestigious program. She has worked with Goodman, Lookingglass Theater, Chicago Shakespeare and Court theaters just to name a few, and at regional theaters all over the country. Recently she guest starred on USA's Sirens and NBC's Chicago Fire. She is a member of Actor's Equity, SAG-AFTRA, a Collaboraction company member, and a resident artist at the Bronzeville Artists Lofts. 

The Movement Starts Here written and performed by Sir Taylor, directed by Anthony Moseley
Collaboraction’s 2017 Artist Award winner, founder of The Example Setters, presents a new work of spoken word, hard truths and literal leaps of faith.

Sir Taylor founded what is now known as The Example Setters in 1988 to breathe life into youth who have been under supported by the city of Chicago - youth who have experienced trauma, live in low-income households, in areas of high violence, who attend under performing CPS schools, and many of whom live within the foster system. Sir Taylor grew up in Cabrini-Green during an epidemic of violence, and with the help of key mentors and his involvement as a founding member of the Jesse White Tumblers, he has gone on to become a Golden Gloves boxer, a member of the U.S. Gymnastic Team, a performer in The Lion King on Broadway, and toured the world performing. Sir Taylor is a Collaboraction Company Member, winner of Collaboraction’s 2017 Artist Award, and has been recognized for his transformative work with The Example Setters by CPS.

choreographed by GiGi
Addressing the impact of violence on mental health and exploring dance as a form of therapy and a means for healing.

GiGi Tonyé is a Nigerian-American Chicago native with over 10 years of professional dance and choreography experience. She has performed with Black Ensemble Theater, TD Jakes Potters House Church MegaFest, in the Common and Kanye West music video “The Corner, Flash Mob America,” The Steve Harvey Show, WGN and ABC7 News, CANTV, Shuree Rivera's “Freedom” music video, Jossie Thacker, Collaboration’s 2018 Peacebook Festival, 100 Black Women, Making The Squad: The Musical, the Chicago Bulls and more. She received the Dance To Learn Scholarship 2018 as well as Ladies of Virtue Spirit of Excellence Award for Choreography and Dance Instruction. Follow her on, Instagram: @gigi_Tonye, or Facebook: Garley Briggs and/or Gigi Tonye Dance.

Keywords: #theater #dance #spokenword #music #Englewood #peace #Collaboraction #Kennedy-King #2019isYOCT #ChiTheatre

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