If you think you are an inspired performer who can breathe life into the speeches and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., you have a chance to participate in the first annual “MLK Speech Slam.”
The event will be held January 20, 2020 at Kennedy-King College and two winners will receive $1,000 each.
The Slam is being facilitated by Collaboraction, which bills itself as Chicago’s Theater for Social Change, and application submissions are being accepted until December 15.
Submissions must be seven minutes or less from a speech of the great American/civil rights visionary and can be in one of two categories: “Traditional Oration,” which is a verbatim rendering, or “Creative Remix,” which is your own interpretation of the speech.
Applications must be submitted through the theatre company’s website (here) and applicants should be prepared to upload a 90-180 second video audition of the submission. There may also be additional in-person auditions before finalists are selected by a panel of industry judges.
The winner in each Slam category will receive $1,000 and there will be additional prizes for second and third place.
The free January 20th final event will be held at 7 p.m. in the 300-seat mainstage theater at Kennedy-King College, located at 740 West 63rd Street.
(For questions about the MLK Slam or submission process, email here.).
The “Encounter” Performances
The MLK Slam is a part of Collaboraction’s Third Annual “Encounter Series” taking place from January 14-25 at Kennedy-King College. Collaboraction is in residence at Kennedy-King this season.
Encounter is an annual performance series focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion through a series of mid-length works, 20 minutes or longer, of theater, visual art, music, video, dance and performance.
Each program runs approximately two hours, and culminates with a “Crucial Conversation” in which the audience is encouraged to share their thoughts and experiences with the performing artists and top Chicago social justice activists.
This year’s Encounter series, called “Being and Becoming”, consists of two programs. The “Being” part includes two world premieres by and about two amazing Chicago artists:
• Inspire: Breathe Life is Sir Taylor’s life story of growing up in the Cabrini-Green housing projects, being a founding member of the Jesse White Tumblers, going to Africa, dedicating his life to leaving a positive impact on his community, and setting an example for Chicago youth as a community activist, mentor and leader of The Example Setters.
• Lady Sol’s Dance Diary, Vol. 1 is written and performed by Leida “Lady Sol” Garcia. It welcomes audiences into the personal and professional life of Garcia, a bonafide Chicago street dance professional whose life takes a dark detour at the height of a successful tour in South Africa and after a music video appearance with ’90s’ hip hop legends, the Fugees.
The “Becoming” part includes four works:
• Englewood: A Love Story, directed by Reginald Edmund, is a devised love letter to the past, present and future of Englewood made from a compelling blend of history and true stories from actual residents in the community.
• Lift Every Voice by G. Riley Mills and Willie Round is a cautionary tale. When a racist Snapchat makes its way around a high school, its students are left to grapple with their own history, biases and privilege in order to maintain their relationships.
• F.O.P. by Miranda Gonzalez. After the birth of their child, two Chicago police officers and partners, Josh and Lala, are the victims of racial harassment at the hands of their fellow officers.
• SANKOFA by Antwon Funches is set in the 19th Century American South. This one-act play follows the climactic escape of an enslaved mother and daughter, exploring what happens when we accept love and empathy, and what happens when we reject it.
“Encounter invites Chicagoans to an artistic experience that will expand their perspective and comprehension of our connection to one another,” says Collaboraction Artistic Director Anthony Moseley. “We are inspired by these incredible new works that embody equity and inclusion through personal narratives and visions of personal triumphs in the Being program and by working through issues of oppression in the Becoming program.”
Adds the company’s Executive Director Dr. Marcus Robinson, “The heart of Collaboraction’s work is to foreground authentic voices who share first-person narratives and documented truths about the critical issues of oppression that form real barriers to true equity and inclusion in our city.
“Their stories are presented with high theatrical production values that allow artists and audiences to face these harsh realities together, educating while at the same time creating empathy and understanding.”
“The Crucial Conversation after each performance is not merely an artist-audience talk back session, but rather conversations between neighbors about issues that impact every one of us. It’s a time of shared learning, growth and committing to doing what we can to make our lives, our neighborhoods, and our city a truly equitable and inclusive place to live.”
More On The Company
Collaboraction, the social contemporary theater, collaborates with a diverse spectrum of Chicagoans, artists, and community activists to create original theatrical experiences that push artistic boundaries and explore critical social issues.
Since the company’s founding in 1996, Collaboraction has worked with more than 3,000 artists to bring more than 60 productions and events to more than 150,000 audience members throughout the city, including in community parks in Austin, Englewood, Hermosa and Lawndale.
Collaboraction every Wednesday offers an open mic night developed by its Director of Creative Community Cultivation Teh’Ray Hale, aka Phenom.
A space for spoken word artists, musicians, poets and performers to gather to develop their craft and build creative community undefined by zip code, it’s part open mic, part mentorship program that is free and open to all – performers and audience members – at the Collaboraction Studios located at 1579 North Milwaukee Avenue, 3rd Floor, at 8 p.m.
For its 23rd season, Collaboraction has launched its “One City Ticket Giveaway” in which the company is giving away two free tickets to the first person from each of the 58 Chicago zip codes. Visit collaboraction.org/one-city-tickets to try your luck for free tickets to Collaboraction’s Third Encounter Series at Kennedy-King.
Otherwise, tickets are $18 to $35. Encounter Series All-Access Passes are $30-$60. To purchase, visit collaboraction.org/encounter or call the Collaboraction box office at 312/226-9633.
Youth Holiday Show December 7-15
Collaboraction’s first full-length youth production, All I Want For Chicago Is…, which showcases the voices and wishes of Chicago high school students, plays at the company’s studios December 7-15.
The play follows a group of Chicago teens who want to avoid a drab, drama-filled holiday break at home. Instead, they gather on Christmas Eve at Collaboraction to share their hopes, fears and dreams.
Magical events occur throughout the show via theater, puppetry, music and poetry while these actual Chicago teens explore issues of equity, colorism, sexual orientation, discrimination, mental illness and gun violence.
Artistic Director Moseley calls the show special “because it allows audiences to experience the uncensored voice of Chicago teens today and the issues they are dealing with.”
Tickets for the All I Want For Chicago Is…holiday show are $15-$25 and can be purchased through the website or calling Collaboraction’s box office.