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Theater Wed Feb 27 2013

Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology is a Poignant Call to Arms

crimescene.jpg

Shavac Prakash (top) & Scott Baity, Jr. (bottom); Photo by Cesario Moza

Collaboractions' new and original production, Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology creates a bridge between entertainment, social justice and public service -- there is sophisticated lighting and choreography, touching musical interludes, comic relief and captivating, hyper-dramatic moments that we expect from theater, but to call this play entertainment is almost blasphemy. Luckily for us, it is still entertaining. Crime Scene has a clear agenda, though -- to call attention to Chicago's serious and escalating crime problem by re-enacting three key homicides that took place in the city over the past few years.

"The inspiration from Crime Scene came from a need to create work connected to important issues in our community", explained director Anthony Moseley. "I believe theater can serve a critical role in addressing the issue of violence by offering Chicagoans a transcendent artistic experience that forces us to confront and question the core elements of senseless violence."

Collaboraction has a knack at creating effects live in the theater that we usually associate with film -- things I hadn't imagined being possible on stage, like slow motion bits that hold up against The Matrix -- and Crime Scene creates these effects magnificently. With very few props and stage decorum, just some clever lighting tricks and some serious school-of-fish-like synchronicity, the actors are able to convincingly transport us from a front porch to a street riot to a prison lunchroom in record time.

In addition to being magical, the acting in Crime Scene is touching and poignant -- it feels like the issues being addressed in the play are very real to the actors, and they should be -- they live here, too, and a semi-formal mingling session before the show between actors and audience sheds light on their personal connections to the city's history of segregation and violence. Although the acting is all-around good, it is the women who really shine in Crime Scene -- a particularly inspiring monologue performed by Patrese D. McClain comes to mind. It's always nice to see women playing diverse roles with serious conviction and the chops to back it up.

Crime Scene feels very much like a production for Chicago by Chicago -- it's no Wicked, there aren't likely to be busses posted out front of the Flat Iron building shuffling tourists in anytime soon. That doesn't seem to be the aim. And even if each and every audience member doesn't go on to make sweeping changes in their communities as a direct result of seeing the play, positive seeds are planted, and it is clear that the more people who see the show, the better. The partners and co-devisers are actively looking for ways to get the show into diverse venues across the city to broaden the audience and get a discussion going, by the way, as the program points out. Between Crime Scene and This American Life's recent series profiling Harper High school (also recommended), it's refreshing and encouraging to see the conversation broadening from the usual circles like Ceasefire and PTA meetings and filtering into local art and entertainment, where new perspectives and ideas come into play. It's about time.

Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology runs through April 7, 2013 at Collaboraction on the 3rd floor of the Flat Iron Arts Building (1579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in Wicker Park. The show is recommended for ages 15 and up due to violence and mature content, and is followed each night by a facilitated discussion. Tickets are $25; $15 for students, educators and industry. View the show schedule and purchase tickets online at collaboraction.org or call 312-226-9633.

 

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Feature Thu Apr 16 2015

From Chicago to Senegal by Way of the Drum: Interview with Local Filmmaker Mallory Sohmer

By Ana Sekler

Mallory Sohmer is a freelance documentary filmmaker from Chicago and a Columbia College alumna. She co-directed the new film, Drum Beat Journey, the story of four inner-city youth who travel to Petit Mbao, Senegal, to participate in a drumming workshop. The program used music as a vehicle to capture and connect with the young men in an engaging and original way. But this is not just a film about drumming; it's about stepping into another culture to learn about oneself.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri May 22 2015

Tomorrowland, Slow West, Animals, Good Kill, I'll See You in My Dreams & In the Name of My Daughter

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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Events

Tue May 26 2015
The 2nd Annual 26th Annual Comedy Festival

Tue May 26 2015
The Moth StorySLAM @ Martyrs'

Tue May 26 2015
Kori Newkirk Artist Talk @ Logan Center for the Arts

Tue May 26 2015
Trade Plants for Poems @ The University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts

Wed May 27 2015
UHF with Weird Al @ Music Box

Thu May 28 2015
High Fidelity Film Series @ Music Box

Thu May 28 2015
Eat to the Beat: Chicago Academy for the Arts

Fri May 29 2015
Ecos del Pacifico Dance Party @ Szold Music and Dance Hall

Fri May 29 2015
Danny Floyd & Jeff Prokash "2 Tambours" Opening Reception @ Cornerstone

Fri May 29 2015
Jaime Foster Solo Exhibition "Biophilia" @ Elephant Room Gallery

Sat May 30 2015
The Burden @ Music Box

Sat May 30 2015
National Tap Day celebration @ Old Town School of Folk Music

Sat May 30 2015
Ballet Chicago's Illuminate @ Harris Theater

Sat May 30 2015
Obscura Day 2015

Sun May 31 2015
The Lives of Robert Ryan @ Music Box


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