University Park, ILGovernors State University's Center for Performing Arts announces the world premiere of Red Summer written by Lookingglass Theatre's Andrew White and MPAACT's Shepsu Aakhu, composed by Shawn Wallace, directed by Lydia J. Dymond. Red Summer will play at the Center for the Performing Arts stage, in University Park, Illinois, on Sept. 16-25.
Red Summer takes place during the Chicago race riots of 1919. The protagonists are two WWI soldiersone Black, one whitereturning from the battlefields of Europe. Upon their return they find themselves caught in the violence of a Chicago that is struggling to accommodate the Great Migration, the return of WWI veterans, a downturn in the economy, and long-standing ethnic tensions. Having fought on the same side in The Great War, they are now pitted against each other as their friends, family, and neighbors wage block-by-block warfare, and the city's ethnic enclaves rage and burn.
The cast features: Allison Feist (Athena/Ensemble), Alexander Slade (Declan Weir), Anthony Augustine (Piano Player/Ensemble), Ashlea Woodley (Mam Weir), Ryan Huemmer (Connor), Autumn Price (Ensemble), Bob Sanders (Big Bill Thompson), Brian Healey (Casmero), Chloe Belongilot (Cora/Ensemble), Joshua Miller (Dixon), Katherine Delicath (Liza/Ensemble), Lauren Wells-Mann (Vanessa/Ensemble), Lewon Johns (Donald Lee Winters), Marc Rogers (Ensemble), Melenie Victoria (Ida B Wells/Ensemble), Michael Santos (Doyle/Ensemble), Michaelyn Oby (Josephine/Ensemble/ Eugene), CC Rios (Marlene Winters), Stewart Romeo (Ensemble), and Tim Hiemstra (Ensemble). The understudies are Danelle Taylor and Jacque Bischoff.
The creative team includes Shepsu Aakhu (Writer, Sound Design, Dramaturge), Andrew White (Writer), Shawn Wallace (Writer, Composer, Music Director), Andrea J. Dymond (Director), Razor Wintercastle (Production Stage Manager), Brittany Davis (COVID Compliance Officer), Reginald Lawrence (Production Manager), Lauren "LL" Lundy (Assistant Production Manager), Jessica Wardell (Scenographic Design), Shariba Rivers (Casting Director), Sean Neron (Technical Director), Brandon Wardell (Lighting Design), Evelyn Danner (Costume Design), Andrea Wukitsch (Choreographer), Nic Diamond (Master Carpenter), Abboye Lawrence (Media Artist), and Nick Sandys (Fight Choreographer).
Aakhu comments, "2019 was the centennial of the 'Red Summer,' which earned its name due to the blood that ran freely in the streets of Chicago (and many other American cities). These events are largely forgotten and unknown to the general populaceeven to those who live in the cities in which they took fierce hold. As the saying goes, those who forget history are doomed to repeat itand, arguably, one of the reasons racial conflicts continues to erupt in Chicago (and in every other urban metropolis in America) is because we choose to bury this history rather than look at it and understand it. This story must be told because it sheds light on a chapter of our shared history that is too often overlooked, in the hope that an honest look at our past will make it possible to have a clearer vision of our future."
Playwright Andrew White adds, "Today, more than 100 years later, the same issues still simmer in every metropolitan area in America."
Support for the development of Red Summer was provided, in part, by Chicago Performance Lab through Theater and Performance Studies in the Logan Center at the University of Chicago and Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre in Evanston, IL.
This project is supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Preview: Sept. 16 at 7:30pm followed by post-show discussion
Sunday, Sept. 18 at 2:00pm
Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7:30pm
Sunday, Sept. 25 at 2:00pm
Tickets: www.govst.edu/RedSummer; (708) 235-2222
$29-$39; Students: $5 (Sept. 16 only) and $10 (Sept. 17-25)