Chicago, IL Arts + Public Life ( APL ), an initiative of UChicago Arts, and Definition Theatre Company ( DTC ) announce Definition as the resident theatre company for Fall 2020/Winter 2021 at the Green Line Performing Arts Center, 329 E Garfield Blvd in Chicago. The season will begin late Fall 2020 ( date TBD ) with Amplify, short works in development by South Side Chicagoans presented virtually. The Chicago premiere ofAmerica v. 2.1: The Sad Demise & Eventual Extinction of The American Negro by award-winning playwright Stacey Rose, directed by DTC Artistic Director Tyrone Phillips will be filmed on the pre-pandemic constructed set at the Green Line when it is safe for the creative team to collaborate in-person.
In addition to presenting Amplify and America v. 2.1 during its residency, Definition Theatre will continue to collaborate virtually with APL's Backstage Production youth education program on set design, lighting and sound, as well as host public workshops and classes online.
"Definition Theatre Company's eventual permanent home will be on the South Side and we are thrilled with this partnership with APL, giving us the opportunity to connect and further build community during our residency at the Green Line Performing Arts Center. In the midst of navigating a global pandemic and social uprising, we look forward to sharing our work and collaborating with APL on successful premieres that will transfer the energy of our traditional stage performances to a virtual platform in a dynamic and harmonious way," said DTC Executive Director Neel McNeill.
"APL is thrilled to be able to support Definition Theatre's ongoing development of 'bold new voices into the American Theater cannon' on the South Side of Chicago, in Washington Park, at the Green Line Performing Arts Center. Given the shift to more expanded and accessible platforms, we feel we have both an opportunity and responsibility to introduce our audiences to Definition's significant work and mission despite our theater doors being closed to the public," said APL Theater and Programs Manager Tony Santiago.
Tickets will be available for virtual performances at later date at definitiontheatre.org . Definition Theatre Company's season, in residency at Arts + Public Life ( APL ), includes:
Amplify, a series of short plays in development, will be presented online late Fall 2020.
Amplify will provide space and resources to writers in the development of new works during the pandemic to create a collaborative community for them to hear, see, and experience their work, amplified and actualized. Developed to empower and uplift underrepresented theatre creatives, Amplify is part of a larger initiative to capture new cultural expressions across the South Side of Chicago.
After an open submission period, Definition will select up to eight short play excerpts to be filmed at the Green Line Performing Arts Center. The Definition ensemble will subsequently choose up to four finalist playwrights, whose work feels most suited for the company, to be commissioned for continued engagement leading to a full staged reading as a part of the opening of Definition's new space in Woodlawn.
Tyrone Phillips comments, "Definition is committed to valuing diversity of approach, style, and perspective and balancing impact with investment. We believe it is our duty to continuously develop voices for the American theatre that have been previously shut out."
America v. 2.1: The Sad Demise & Eventual Extinction of the American Negro
In America v. 2.1: The Sad Demise & Eventual Extinction of the American Negro, playwright Stacey Rose presents a timely look at a dystopian future that seems disturbingly present. A company of actors tasked with re-telling the history of the American Negro find themselves fighting for their survival. As their story unravels, they are forced to confront the very systems of power that have dictated their existence, and the oppressive cycles which they have fallen into themselves. This hauntingly funny Chicago premiere is a terrifying collision of past and present that questions who is in charge of preserving the truth of our shared American history.
"I am thrilled to be collaborating with Stacey Rose on this piece that speaks to the current reckoning of race happening in America and across the world today. Most importantly, it inspires the next generation of leaders who will fight for equity in our nation to come forward," commentsDTC Artistic Director Tyrone Phillips. "As our world paused due to the current pandemic, we found ourselves asking honest questions around the accessibility of culture through the arts and specifically theatre. We witnessed our entire industry search to find ways to respond to the work we do as we were not able to physically gather to share our stories. We, at Definition, have come to the conclusion that theatre has never been truly accessible, especially when it comes to representing the value of the lives and stories shared in our Black and Brown communities and have plans in store to create a new connection. I can't wait to share this production with audience members, young and old."
America v. 2.1 is an award-winning play that received its world premiere in July 2019 at Barrington Stage Company. Playwright Stacey Rosecomments, "I am so honored to have this Black-led company birth America v. 2.1 into the world a second time. I look forward to the conversations, innovations, and joy that will come with this task."
The America v. 2.1 production team includes Tyrone Phillips ( Director ), Christie Chiles Twillie ( Music Director & Composer ), David Samba ( Sound Designer ) Steph Paul ( Choreographer ), Yu Shibagaki ( Scenic Designer ), Kathy Perkins ( Lighting Designer ), Kristy Hall ( Costume Designer ), Lowell Thomas ( Director of Photography ) and Jared Bellot ( Dramaturg ).
About Definition Theatre Company
Definition Theatre is a culturally diverse theater dedicated to telling language-driven, relationship-oriented, socially relevant stories about and created with underrepresented communities in Chicago. Our ensemble is a collective of artists, art administrators, educators, and designers who prioritize working towards and representing a more equitable theatre industry.
Definition has built its reputation on work that refects its unique voice. It shared the words of Academy Award- Winner Tarell Alvin McCraney in The Brothers Size; it grooved with Amiri Baraka's whirlwind story of a chance meeting on a train in Dutchman. In partnership with, The New Colony staged the world premiere of Byhalia, Mississippi, which starred Academy Award nominee ensemble member Kiki Layne. In association with the Goodman Theatre, Definition staged the Chicago premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' An Octoroon, a subversive take on race in America that captivated audiences. Most recently, Definition sent us all to the moon with ensemble member James Ijames's Moon Man Walk and explored the challenges of America's public-school system through Nilaja Sun's No Child… and highlighted the first- generation experience in the world premiere of Sam Kebede'sETHIOPIANAMERICA.
Ensemble members include: Owais Ahmed, Jared Bellot, Carley Cornelius, Ari Craven, Danielle Davis, Martasia Jones, Slick Jorgensen, Kristy Hall, James Ijames, Kiki Layne, Kelson Michael McAuliffe, Neel McNeill, Sophiyaa Nayar, Alexandra Oparka, Julian Parker, Tyrone Phillips, Jacqueline Rosas, Christopher Sheard, and Dujon Smith.Artistic Advisory Board members include: director May Adrales, Steppenwolf ensemble member Alana Arenas, actress Shannon Cochran, Erica Daniels, actor Brandon Dirden, actor Jason Dirden, Writers Theatre Artistic Director Michael Halberstam, director Pam Mackinnon, Equity Quotient CEO Keryl McCord, professor JW Morrissette, director Ron OJ Parson, professor/lighting designer Kathy Perkins, Tony Award-winning actress and stage director Phylicia Rashad, and Goodman Theatre director in residence Chuck Smith. Tyrone Phillips is the Artistic Director and Neel McNeill is the Executive Director. For additional information, visit definitiontheatre.org and facebook.com/definitiontheatrecompany #stayinit .
About Arts + Public Life
Arts + Public Life ( APL ), an initiative of UChicago Arts, provides platforms for artists and access to arts programming through artist residencies, arts education, creative entrepreneurship, and artist-led programs and exhibitions. APL advances and promotes a robust, collaborative, and evolving relationship between the University of Chicago and the South Side's vibrant civic, cultural, and artistic communities.
Learn more about Definition Theatre at www.definitiontheatre.org .
Learn more about Arts + Public Life's Theater Residency Program at arts.uchicago.edu/arts-public-life-home/artist-residencies/theater-residency-program .