'Collaboraction' Theater Group Addresses Violence in Upcoming Show
Wicker Park's Collaboraction theater collective will premiere "Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology" at the Flat Iron Arts Building on Feb. 14.
A Wicker Park theater collective is hoping its latest production will spark some important conversations about Chicago's long history of violent crime and what can be done to stop it.
Collaboraction will debut its next show, "Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology" this Thursday, Feb. 14. It tells the story of three true crimes and raises questions about some of the factors that contribute to the city's ongoing problems with violence.
"Crime Scene" was conceived and directed by Anthony Moseley. He said he was inspired to create the show to combat a sense of apathy and numbness that he feels has developed around the city's ongoing violence.
"We are losing more people to murder in Chicago than they have been in Iraq and Afghanistan," Moseley said. "And yet we, as a people, I feel, have more empathy and concern for the soldiers that are fighting in our honor than our children that are right here in our streets. So I really wanted to create a piece of art that would hopefully shake up and break up these perceptions that we've kind of fallen into and kind of maybe take the blinders off."
Although the show has been crafted from interviews with hundreds of Chicagoans—ranging from victims and their families to police officers and prosecutors—about the way violent crime has affected their lives, "Crime Scene" will center its narrative around three specific incidents.
The first is the mistaken identity killing of Orlando Patterson, 12, near his South Side home in 2000. The second is the murder of 17-year-old Joseph Coleman, also known as the rapper Lil Jojo, in Englewood in the summer of 2012. The third is the beating of Stacy Jurich and Irish exchange student Natasha McShane with a baseball bat on the 1800 block of North Damen Avenue in Wicker Park in 2010.
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Moseley said he hopes the show gets more people thinking and talking not only about the violence in their communities, but issues such as segregation and poverty that could be contributing factors.
To that end, each performance will be followed by a facilitated discussion featuring guests from nonprofit organizations and community groups from all over the city who are working to end the violence in their neighborhoods.
"The show, at its best, is a primer for really great, important discussion that we need to have," Moseley said. "And it is happening in different parts of the city, but it needs to happen in every part of the city."
He also hopes to use the Wicker Park production itself as a "launching pad" for an ongoing series of performances and collaborations with different groups around the city.
According to Moseley, Collaboraction plans to grow and evolve the show with the help of organizations across the city, including Precious Blood Ministry in Back of the Yards and the Tribune-McCormick YMCA in Logan Square and Humboldt Park.
Members of the company will embed themselves with community groups, interview residents about their experiences with violence and incorporate their stories and voices into the production.
"We want to tour the show, or parts of it, to parks, schools, different neighborhoods around the city," Moseley said. "We know that there's a lot of places that we need to share the show with, and we can't expect them all to come to Wicker Park. So we're looking to currently schedule activities to take the show, in the summer and fall, throughout the city."
"Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology" will run on the third floor of the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., from Feb. 14 to March 10. See Collaboraction's website for tickets, show times and more information.