ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar
16th Street Theater Presents Natalie Y. Moore’s
A World Premiere Play About Reproductive Justice Set in
Chicago’s Englewood Neighborhood,
Runs June 23-July 17
- Also Free Virtual Reading of Interrobang-Roberto+Julia
on June 3, 7 p.m. -16th St.
Single tickets and $50 season subscriptions are available at 16thStreetTheater.org and 708-795-6704. Season subscribers receive two live, in-person plays with priority seating during 2022, plus 10% off local restaurants and links to The Write Collectives online staged readings. Vaccination proof and masks are required for all live events. Copies of The Billboard are available from Haymarket Books.
Congo Square ensemble member and African American Museum of Performing Arts Executive Director TaRon Patton directs and co-produces The Billboard, an in-depth look at reproductive rights set at a fictional women’s clinic in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, where politicians weaponize women’s bodily autonomy to forward their careers.
When City Council candidate Demetrius Drew unveils a billboard saying “Abortion is genocide – the most dangerous place for a Black child is his mother’s womb,” Tanya Gray’s Black Women’s Health Initiative responds with its own sign to underscore that abortion is more than merely pro-life or pro-choice. Her billboard says “Black women have the right to make decisions for their families and their bodies. Abortion is self-care. #TrustBlackWomen.”
The Billboard runs June 23-July 17, 2022, in Abbott Hall at Northwestern University, 710 N. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago (run time is 90 minutes without intermission). The Billboard press opening is Thursday, June 23 at 8 p.m., with the second press opening on Friday, June 24 at 8 p.m., public opening on Saturday, June 25, 8 p.m., and the first regular performance on Sunday, June 26 at 2 p.m. The show runs on two Thursdays (June 30 and July 14), Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with matinees on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through July 17. Post-show events include Moore and Simons on June 26; Tonika Johnson, Englewood Arts Collective, and Michelle Rashad on July 8; and Scheherazade Tillet, A Long Walk Home, on July 15.
“If ever there was a play that speaks to present day events, this is it,” said interim Artistic Director Jean Gottlieb. “We were determined to get The Billboard to the stage. Despite the loss of our 14-year artistic home in Berwyn, as well as the proposed new space in the Berwyn VFW building, our artistic team knew that the time for this play was NOW. Natalie’s play holds up a crucial mirror to American society, helping us to face all sides of this topical issue.”
Natalie Y. Moore
Natalie Y. Moore (she/her) is WBEZ’s South Side bureau reporter, where she’s known as the South Side Lois Lane. She is a 2021 USA Fellow and a 2020 Longworth Media Fellow for international reporting at the Pulitzer Center. Her last book, The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation won the 2016 Chicago Review of Books nonfiction award. The Chicago-based journalist has been published in Essence, Black Enterprise, Chicago Reporter, Bitch, In These Times, Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.
TaRon Patton is the Executive Director of The African American Museum of the Performing Arts. For four years, she served as Congo Square Theatre's Executive Director, and has performed at many professional venues including Goodman Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre. She is also the CEO of GLP Productions, Inc. Producer credits include N (Greenhouse), and Misty Tanner (Q&A Productions). Directing credits include N (Greenhouse) Saturday Night, Sunday Morning (Steppenwolf Garage Rep), Bulrusher (Congo Square), and Nativity Tribute (Congo Square).
The crew includes Rose Johnson (set design), Richard Norwood (light design), Shawn Wallace (sound design), Nicole Clocket (costume design), Rachelle “Rocky” Kolecke (prop design), Abboye Lawrence (media specialist), Razor Wintercastle (production manager), Hayley Procacci, AEA (stage manager), Kamesha Khan (dramaturg), Ashley Coney (production assistant), Edward Richardson (assistant sound design and sound engineer), and Zach Kelchen (COVID officer). The post-show facilitator is Sasha-Ann Simons, the host of WBEZ’s Reset.
The next Write Collective free staged reading runs online Friday, June 3 at 7 p.m. Playwright Arlene Malinowski presents Interrobang-Roberto+Julia, a twist on Shakespeare’s familiar tragedy: “Two households, both alike in dignity / In fair Ivy at the Glen retirement home, / where we lay our scene, a pair of star-crossed lovers / hurl their fates to destiny when their feuding families forbid their union.” In this tale of love, power and the secrets about aging, Roberto and Julia explore: When you have no past or no future, who are you?
The Write Collective’s resident playwrights present free virtual staged readings of their latest works, including talkbacks, throughout 2022, on Fridays at 7 p.m. CT:
August 12, TBA by Reginald Edmund
October 7, The Queen of Ithaca by Aline Lathrop
December 2, The Lost Girl by Kathryn Feeney
Date and title TBA, new play by Marsha Estell
The second production of 16th Street Theater’s 15th season will be San Diego-based Siena Marilyn Ledger’s National New Play Network rolling world premiere Man and Moon, which runs October 21-November 13, 2022, at Madison Street Theater, 1010 Madison Street in Oak Park (run time 90 minutes). In the waiting room of a hospital oncology unit, transitioning man Aaron meets 12-year-old middle-schooler Luna, who loves outer space. Together, they learn how to wait and navigate their own changing bodies.
16th Street Theater’s mission is to produce theater that encourages debate, discussion and compassion through intimate, timely, and thought-provoking works with the playwright as our central focus.
16th Street Theater promotes playwrights whose voices have long been underrepresented on stage, and strives to be a theater of inclusivity, to give voice to those stories that might otherwise not be told and to create a space for all voices to be heard.
16th Street Theater is supported in part by American Theatre Wing, The Arts Work Fund, The Berwyn Development Corp, Chicago Community Trust, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, The National New Play Network, The Oak Park Area Arts Council, The Oak Park River Forest Future Philanthropists Program, as well as by season subscribers and the annual support of individuals and businesses.