Violence is the #1 problem you’ve heard about in Chicago. Turn on the television and the news clearly displays the horrific state of our city. By the ferocity shown each day, one can easily see that the world in which we live is in severe crisis. From the present calamity of angry protesters against the hate groups that are coming out from their shameless crypts, one can easily see that a major intervention is needed. Unfortunately, this interventional assistance doesn’t seem to be coming from the person living in the White House.

Jeremy Noah (center) leads the cast in this moment from “# Who’s Next The Musical,” a work that invites audiences to join/live the justice revolution, written and directed by Frederick Alphonso. “# Who’s Next The Musical” is one of eight shorts works of theater, spoken word and dance in the PEACEBOOK Hamilton Park program, October 5-7, 2017. Credit: Joel Maisonet

However, a glimmer of hope has arisen. Look closer to home and see the war of wars changing in the city of “Big Shoulders.” The city that was dubbed “Chi-Raq” a few years back due to a surge of violent crimes is coming out of the shadows. A city with a body count that is growing at a steady pace is asking the question: “Where is the Peace?” in the midst of the horrendous storm.

A group of Chicagoans is working together to help our communities face its fear of losing another soul to the streets. This group that consists of neighborhoods all across our great city is making a bold statement that change has to come, and come it will! There is indeed a beacon of light shining upon our city and preaching love and peace instead of hate.

A diverse community of Chicagoans has created a theatrical experience that pushes the boundaries from sadness within our communities to working successfully as one Chicago. This core group is tackling these perilous social issues that we have been accustomed to independently discussing with no understanding of the effects it causes each community.

Social issue-driven theatre “Collaboraction” under the Festival Director Anthony Moseley kicked off Peacebook, a city-wide festival of theatre, dance, music, visual art, and spoken word focused on cultivating peace in Chicago. This production has already brought over 200 artists and neighborhood peace activists together to discuss real and positive connections within our communities.

The pre-show performance of Peacebook opened up with “Step-Alive,” directed by Stanford Bailey, who mentors teens, keeping the art of Chicago-style stepping alive.  The goal is to open community members’ eyes to the issues they face without prejudice; for you to see me as you see your self–as a person trying to make it even though our challenges and outcomes can be severely different.

The World Needs Peacebook

This magnificent venture was quite refreshing to witness: teens united and being depicted in a positive light. Each segment touched your soul and made you want to be a part of this great movement. In a world full of turmoil, the world needs Peacebook.

However, one performance stood out and that was “HOODS” written by Kaye Winks and directed by Schoen Smith. This segment gave us the opportunity to look at Chicago as a family made up of different neighborhoods within the city, such as the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Bronzeville, Chatham, Gage Park and Englewood.

This performance forced us to look at the reality of how we view a community through a group art therapy session that talked about our long established communication issues. Each person who represented a community gave us insight to what Chicagoans really thought about their neighborhood and provided viewpoints about other communities (usually negative) within the city.  They were very upfront about their pride and who they thought messed up the city’s family structure.

The collaboration and the 24 “chapters” consist of theater, music, and dance. These very challenging, engaging and enlightening performances invite you to join in on the justice revolution as they discuss topics around crime, the confrontations between Black men within our society, the loss of our children and how violence and peace are not always equally intertwined.

This is a must see event and we highly recommend that you and your family come and witness such a great collaboration about peace in Chicago.

Peacebook is a part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks series, which is now in its fourth year. It is also funded in part by The Goodman Theatre and the NEA. Below are the upcoming places Peacebook will be performing.

October 5-7 at Hamilton Park in Englewood

October 19-21 at Kelvyn Park in Hermosa

November 2-4 at La Follette Park in Austin

 

 

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