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Collaboraction taking “Crime Scene” to the neighborhoods

Collaboraction is about to head out to four city neighborhoods on four consecutive August weekends with its hit production, ‘Crime Scene Chicago,” the “docu-drama live theater experience.”

Updated and renamed “Crime Scene Chicago: Let Hope Rise 2104,” this summer tour of Collaboraction’s theatrical reaction to violent crime in Chicago is being presented as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks program. Local organizations dedicated to promoting a sense of community and combating violence are partnering with the theater to help with research, to connect the company with community residents and their families, and to co-moderate post-show town hall meetings meant to spur action on ways to inspire change and combat violent crime in all four locations.

Friday nights kick off at 5 p.m. with a free community BBQ sponsored in part by Goodman Theatre and Collaboraction’s signature Dome of Dance competition for neighborhood residents. Pre-show “peace rallies” start at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday nights, featuring pro-peace performances by community groups. Show time is 7 p.m. with a town hall discussion to follow. All performances include opportunities for audience participation. Tickets are free and can be reserved by emailing info@collaboraction.org or calling (312) 226-9633. “Crime Scene” runs 55 minutes and is recommended for ages 14 and up due to violence and mature content.

The touring stops are as follows:

± Hamilton Park in Englewood, 513 W. 72nd St. (Thursday and Friday, August 7 and 8).
± Austin Town Hall in Austin, 5610 W. Lake St. (Thursday and Friday, August 14 and 15).
± Loyola Park in East Rogers Park, 1230 W. Greenleaf (Thursday and Friday, August 21 and 22).
± Taylor Park in Bronzeville, 39 W. 47th St. (Thursday and Friday August 28 and 29).

Press night for Crime Scene Chicago: Let Hope Rise 2014 is Friday, August 8 at Hamilton Park in Englewood.

The world premiere of “Crime Scene” was widely praised when it debuted in 2013, and played to sold-out houses at Collaboraction’s Wicker Park home, followed by its first summer tour last year with the Chicago Park District.

As I wrote in my review: “Neither politicians, nor the police, nor community activists, nor parents seem capable of stopping the insanity. And it’s a good bet no theater company will be able to turn the tide either. Yet there is something about ‘Crime Scene’ that is so direct, visceral, youthful and winningly honest (meaning not at all predictably politically correct), that you might at least find yourself listening again – willing to get beyond the overload of disgust, impotence and sense of futility.”

For its 2014 summer parks tour, show creator and Collaboraction artistic director Anthony Moseley has remixed “Crime Scene” to include up-to-the-minute stories of Chicago violence, coupled with nonfiction source material such as interviews, articles, social media threads and online comments, all designed to raise critical questions surrounding segregation, poverty, the news media and popular culture.

Moseley added: “When we first presented ‘Crime Scene’ our goal was to use theater to wake Chicago up — to shake people up and get the conversation started about Chicago’s crime epidemic. This summer, the show has been remixed to show Chicago residents that we understand what’s going on in their communities, to share positive narratives about hope and change, to underscore how it’s everyone’s responsibility to end violence in Chicago, and to encourage audience members to look for even just one community program that connects with their values to support long-term.”

As before, Collaboraction is collaborating with dozens of anti-violence activists and community organizations to create hyperlocal content for each residency, and to participate in neighborhood Peace Rallies before each Friday performance. Adding to its youth outreach effort, Collaboraction has partnered with the City of Chicago’s After School Matters program to create the Crime Scene Youth Ensemble. Collaboraction’s first-ever youth ensemble, made up of 20 Chicago teens ages 14 and 15 from all over the city, met at Collaboraction for five weeks, through July 31, devising anti-crime performance art, including the show’s new theme song, “Spread the Love.”

Members of the Crime Scene Youth Ensemble, as well as Young Chicago Authors, will perform at all four peace rallies. Though subject to change, Manchild is slated to perform at all Friday night rallies, and the Brickheadz Crew will appear Friday, August 8 (Hamilton Park) and August 29 (Taylor Park).

Goodman Theatre’s General Theatre Studies education program for teens ages 14 to 18 also is collaborating with the tour and youth ensembles. A select group of youth artists will perform from “Two Years Later,” a piece that was included earlier this year in Goodman Theatre’s Facing Our Truth festival of plays in response to the Trayvon Martin verdict.

Collaboraction invites Chicagoans to support its “Crime Scene” partners, which also include CeaseFire Englewood, Change 4 Children, Embarc, Formers Anonymous, Goodman Theatre, Ignite One, The KLEO Center, Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, RAGE, Strengthening Chicago’s Youth, and Young Chicago Authors.

“Crime Scene Chicago 2014: Let Hope Rise” features Collaboraction company members Anthony Moseley (writer and director), Adam Seidel (co-writer) and Rinska Carrasco Prestinary, with Scott Baity Jr., Luis Crespo, Brian Keys, Brittney Love Smith, Annie Prichard, Charlette Speigner and Nathaniel Swift. Designers include John Wilson (set), Heather Sparling (lights), Stephen Ptacek (sound), Elsa Hiltner (costumes) and Angie Campos (props). The show is produced by Sarah Moeller.

Email: hweiss@suntimes.com
Twitter: @HedyWeissCritic