Collaboraction, Chicago’s theater for social change, announces We Still Dream: The 5th Annual Peacebook and Utopian Ball, a merger of the company’s annual fall live performance festival and gala into a into a unique one-month virtual campaign, October 17 to November 14, 2020.
Peacebook 2020, featuring ten world premiere videos split into two distinct programs, will premiere for free on Zoom with live stream simulcasts on Collaboraction’s Facebook and YouTube pages on Saturday, October 17 at 7 p.m. Go to collaboraction.org to register for the Zoom.
Pictured (top, from left): Peacebook 2020 artists Phenom, Matthew LaChappelle (bottom, from left) Ada Cheng and Darling Squire.
Program one, Essential Perspectives, will showcase five videos self-taped and edited by Chicago artists Jasmin Cardenas, Mia Park, Teh’Ray Hale Jr. aka PHENOM, Sami Ismat and Willie Round. The common theme is how each of their communities is showing resilience during the pandemic. A grant from Illinois Humanities partially funds this program.
Program two, Visions of Peace, selected from over 75 submissions, will premiere five new works by Ada Cheng, Darling Squire, Matthew LaChappelle, Luzzo and Vernon B. Gooden. Each “chapter” will be shot and produced in a socially distanced manner by Collaboraction's creative team.
Over the next month, Collaboraction will broadcast additional screenings and Crucial Conversations with artists and members of their communities on Collaboraction’s new Together Virtual Network.
All the while raising funds, spirits and awareness leading up to The Utopian Ball on November 14, a ticketed virtual celebration.
Chaired by renowned Chicago casting director Claire Simon, Collaboraction’s annual gala will start at 7 p.m. with an Opening Ritual, followed by the Ourhaus Patron-of-the-Year Award, 2020 Artist Award, silent and live auction and special surprise guests.
The Utopian Ball concludes the month’s We Still Dream theme with a “Big Ask” for donations and a live, DJ dance party.
Tickets are $25, $50, $125 and $250 at collaboraction.org with each price level coming with different access and gift levels. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for sponsorship opportunities or to join the host committee.
The Peacebook 2020 Lineup
Program One -Visions of Peace
This program was selected from numerous theatrical submissions to the 5th Annual Peacebook Festival and adapted to video.
A Letter to My Younger Self by Ada Cheng
Cheng, a Chicago storyteller, educator and producer, shares a story about a series of emails with a young Asian American student who experienced a racist incident related to Covid-19. How does one overcome cultural conditioning and respond to bias and prejudice stemming from anti-Asian racism in the midst of the pandemic? How does one build solidarity with others in times of crisis and injustice?
Back to Me by Darling Squire
Squire, a Black trans woman, dancer and choreographer, fuses dance and poetry to pay homage to the music of her youth that has served as the foundation of her choreographic language. The days when dance was new to her and she would spend hours dancing in the studio, flying above the clouds and frolicking with the birds and bees like the winds whirling through the trees.
The Dance…Never Give Up by Matthew LaChapelle
Directed by Sandra Delgado
LaChapelle, an independent adult actor with Down syndrome, performs an original monologue about being ridiculed at his eighth grade dance and how he didn’t let that stop his quest for greatness nor his zest for the dance floor.
I Used To Write With My Left Hand by Luzzo
In Collaboration with Lauren Fabrota
Luzzo, a queer actor, dancer and choreographer, debuts his new dance theater work about generational trauma caused by homophobia within Chicago’s South side Irish Catholic community, particularly how it affected Luzzo and his older queer relatives.
Brother! Blackbird by Vernon D. Gooden in collaboration with Ashley Wilkerson
What would it be like to meet your past and future versions of yourself? Would present self advise your past self differently? In Brother! Blackbird, Gooden, an activist, choreographer and former Paul Taylor dancer, uses dance and storytelling to explore liberation from cages and themes of identity, including sexuality, gender, race, culture and faith.
Program 2 - Essential Perspectives
This program, supported by an Illinois Humanities Community Resiliency Grant, commissioned these five Chicago artists to record and edit their own short video about their communities’ responses to Covid-19:
Essential?...Tengo que trabajar/I have to work by Jasmin Cardenas
Covid-19 hit, and working people were in the direct line of fire. How are workers surviving this loss of work? When the professional class sheltered in place for conference calls and Zoom meetings, what happened to the most vulnerable that work in the cash economy, temp workers, low wage workers? Cardenas draws on her experience devising theater to fight for workers’ rights with the Chicago Workers Collaborative’s Workers Resistance Theater to interviews Latinx undocumented workers struggling with the impact of Covid-19. From Back of the Yards, Marquette Park, and North Lawndale, Chicago workers tell us where they find hope.
Pressure by Mia Park
Struggle, acceptance, and understanding are crucial to developing resilience. These Daoist principles can describe how Chicago Asian Americans struggle with racism over the Covid-19 pandemic, accept that this pressure is a part of the American experience, and understand that we're all doing the best we can. Park, a multidimensional, Chicago based artist, actor, and creator of Our Perspective: Asian American Plays, talks with Asian Americans in Chicago who have experienced blaming and shaming about Covid-19.
Rose From the Concrete by Teh’Ray Hale Jr. aka Phenom
Hip-hop artist and activist Phenom, Collaboraction’s Director of Creative Community Cultivation, talks with South side residents who have recovered from Covid-19 to illustrate the beauty that arises from a community surrounded in "hardships" and now stands as a Rose of Hope to others seeking to grow while living in similarly challenging conditions. Phenom has worked with First Lady Michelle Obama to teach youth about violence prevention, was founder and CEO of POETREE Chicago, and runs EmceeSkool which trains young artists to be Peace Ambassadors.
Transfixed by Sami Ismat
Ismat, a Syrian refugee in Chicago, explores being isolated and stuck between two places as he seeks political asylum in the U.S. while mourning his father’s recent passing, Syria’s former Director of Culture, due to Covid-19. Transfixed uses the green screen and the virtual chatting as core elements relevant to the current moment aesthetics.
This is North Lawndale by Willie “Prince Roc” Round
Round is a songwriter, playwright, videographer and hip-hop artist who mentors youth through his own program, MUD LIFE (Motivating the Urban to be Determined). In This is North Lawndale, he interviews residents about life on Chicago’s West side during Covid-19 with heartfelt interviews with community-based organizations, small business owners, and parents.
Complete We Still Dream virtual campaign event calendar
Crucial Connections - We Still Dream Preview
Thursday, October 15, 8 p.m.
This episode will feature Peacebook 2020 artists and set up the month of programming and fundraising of We Still Dream.
Peacebook 2020 Opening Night
Saturday, October 17, 7 p.m.
All ten pieces premiere in a mixed program with free tickets available to join the artists in the Zoom and simultaneous live stream to Facebook and YouTube Live followed by a Crucial Conversation.
Thursday Night Watch Parties
Thursday October 22 and 29, November 5 and 12, 7 p.m.
Collaboraction will re-screen Peacebook Opening Night for free on Zoom with Artistic Director Anthony Moseley and special guests TBA with live streamed, artist hosted Facebook Watch Parties.
Becoming: Unlearning White Supremacy
Tuesday, October 27 and Tuesday, November 10, 6 p.m.
Collaboraction's recurring workshop to dismantle White supremacy will feature select Peacebook videos as a jumping off point for exploration and dialogue about how systemic racism shows up in us all. Peacebook artists will participate as special guests.
Visions of Peace
Saturday November 7, 7 p.m.
The Visions of Peace program will be screened via free Zoom and simultaneous Facebook and YouTube Live live streams with the program’s artists followed by a Crucial Conversation.
Sunday, November 8, 3 p.m.
The Essential Perspectives program will be screened via free Zoom and simultaneous Facebook and YouTube Live live stream with the artists followed by a Crucial Conversation.
The Utopian Ball
Saturday, November 14, 7 p.m.
The We Still Dream campaign concludes with The Utopian Ball, a virtual gala with annual rituals and fundraising spectacles. Casting Director Claire Simon of Simon Casting is gala chair.
Collaboraction, Chicago’s theater for social change, collaborates with a diverse community of Chicagoans, artists and community activists to create original theatrical experiences that cultivate dialogue and action around the city’s most critical social issues. Since the company’s founding in 1996, Collaboraction has pushed artistic boundaries working with more than 3,000 artists to bring more than 60 productions and events to more than 150,000 audience members.
Collaboraction is producing its 24th season titled “Transcendence” virtually in lieu of live shows at Kennedy-King College in Englewood. In response to Covid-19, Collaboraction launched the digital platform the Together Network and created recurring programming Crucial Connections, The Prodigy’s Workshop and Becoming: Unlearning White Supremacy and Creating a Path to Active Anti-Racism. The company has introduced a new $5 monthly subscription that allows unlimited access to all of its digital programming. Learn more at
Collaboraction hopes to present the postponed world premiere of Red Island by Anthony Moseley and Carla Stillwell about racism in the United States of America in spring 2021.
Collaboraction has been acknowledged for innovation and inclusivity by using theater as a tool for social change with numerous awards including, most recently, a 2020 Foster Innovation Award from Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the 2020 Multi-Racial Unity Award from the First Unitarian Church - Chicago, a 2018 Stand For the Arts Award from Comcast, and an Otto Award from New York’s Castillo Theatre.
Collaboraction is supported by The Chicago Community Trust, The Joyce Foundation, The Field Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, DCASE and the Wicker Park & Bucktown SSA #33 Chamber of Commerce, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
Collaboraction is led by Artistic Director Anthony Moseley, Executive Director Dr. Marcus Robinson, a company of 20 talented Chicago theater artists, and a dedicated staff and board of directors.