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Archive for March 28th, 2013

Tenants of Rogers Park’s Astor House are fighting to take back their building; say BJB has got to go!

Posted by Newsroom On March - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Using signs and banners, as well as face paint to look like the mice and bedbug­s that plague their residence, the tenants will picket today outside the Astor House at 1246 W. Pratt to send the message that they’re not giving up.

A press conference is set for 10:30 a.m. where tenants will discuss the mass eviction that is currently under way in the building, as well as serious problems with their units — including bedbugs, mice, roaches, contaminated water, broken elevators, and inadequate heat.

Jamie Purcell, the developer who is the principal of BJB Properties, owns the building through a subsidiary. His company has filed over 40 eviction cases since it bought the building last fall; at least two residents who have been forced out by the current management are already homeless. Purcell is also trying to evict residents from the Chateau Hotel building in Uptown.

Residents will tell Purcell and BJB “that we’re not planning on leaving – that we’re planning to fight back,” says tenant Arbie Bowman, who has lived in the building for two and a half years.

They will be joined by neighbors and Loyola University students who are helping them fight back, as well as supporters from Northside Action for Justice, Metropolitan Tenants Organization and Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction.

“We are trying to get our building back for people to stay here, who can’t afford any other housing than what we have got now,” Bowman says.

Tenants and their supporters have launched a boycott of BJB Properties, asking Loyola students and other community members not to rent from BJB until the company drops eviction cases against Astor House residents and agrees to negotiate with all tenant associations in its buildings about keeping its apartments affordable.

For more information, contact : Arbie Bowman, 773-302-5171 or Melvin Jennings, 312-256-6772

Audience Architects announces grant recipients for the 2013-2014 MetLife New Stages for Dance Initiative

Posted by Newsroom On March - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Awards Provide Support for 10 Projects by Chicago Area Dance Companies and Artists

CHICAGO, IL — Audience Architects (AA), a non-profit, dance service organization in Chicago, announced the 2013-2014 grant recipients for the MetLife New Stages for Dance initiative (NSD). A total of $37,500 will be re-granted to 10 projects by Chicago dance companies and artists and will provide affordable access to quality venues. This grant is a continuation of the program that occurred in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco in 2011-2012. Audience Architects is excited to once again be a national partner on this program with Dance/USA, with lead support by the MetLife Foundation.

“New Stages for Dance helps Chicago dance artists and companies secure new access to larger venues and enables many to expand their home seasons. By partnering with these venues, the grantees have the opportunity to reach new audiences, while enjoying the valuable byproduct of enhanced production values. Grantees also receive in-kind marketing services from the venues and Audience Architects, thereby reducing the risk of self-producing,” notes Audience Architects Executive Director Heather Hartley. “The benefits from this program are supported by survey data from NSD 2011-2012 grantees, and we are so grateful for the support from Dance/USA and pleased that the MetLife Foundation recognizes the immense benefits of NSD.”

For 2013-2014, Audience Architects received a record number of applications, which were considered by a five-member panel of dance community leaders from Chicago and Milwaukee, Wisc. The panel awarded 10 projects with grant support in the range of $1,700 to $6,000. Awards were based on a variety of criteria including artistic merit, the quality of the applicant’s audience development and marketing plan and proportionate percentages of the venue rental costs.

Eligible projects for 2013-2014 grantees fell into one of three categories:

  1. Expansion of Engagement or Season at a Current Venue, defined as having at least one more performance than in the previous season;
  2. Performance(s) in a New Venue, if the company has never performed there or has not performed there for at least three years prior to the application date;
  3. Shared Bill Presentation: including two or more dance companies or artists.

Funded projects for 2013-2014 will take place at the following venues in the Chicago area between June 2013 and October 2014:

  • The Athenaeum Theatre; 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
  • Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University; Katten Landau Studio, 425 S. Wabash Ave., 4th Floor, Chicago
  • The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago; 1306 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
  • Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago; 915 E. 60th Street, Chicago
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago/MCA Stage; 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago
  • North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie; 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie
  • The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 North Dearborn St., Chicago
  • Stage 773; 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago

The 2013-2014 NSD grantees are as follows:

  • Aerial Dance Chicago with Elements Contemporary Ballet ($6,000, July 2014)
  • Audible Odyssey ($1,820, Fall 2014)
  • Chicago Moving Company with Guest Artists ($1,960, April 2014)
  • Ginger Krebs ($4,000, February 2014)
  • Hedwig Dances ($5,400, June 2013)
  • Khecari with The Humans ($4,400, Spring 2014)
  • RE|Dance Group ($1,720, July 2014)
  • Red Clay Dance ($4,200, October 2013)
  • Same Planet Different World with Peter Carpenter Performance Project ($4,000, October 2013)
  • The Seldoms ($4,000, October 2014).

An audience survey was designed to measure the impact of NSD’s 2011-2012 grants programs on audiences at funded dance performances in all three cities that received MetLife funding. Dance/USA tabulated the results from nearly 4,000 surveys. Highlights from the surveys tabulated in Chicago in 2011-2012 include:

  • 59% of audience members said they were seeing the artists/companies for the first time.
  • 47% of audience members were attending a performance in a venue that was new to them.

New Stages for Dance II is administered by Dance/USA in partnership with Audience Architects. Leadership Support for the New Stages for Dance II Initiative is provided by MetLife Foundation.

About Audience Architects is a dance service organization whose mission is to build and engage dance audiences in Chicago and advocate for Chicago dance. AA exists to provide Chicago dance companies with increased visibility, expansive resources, and additional forums to showcase and share their talents.

Audience Architects grew out of The Chicago Community Trust’s five-year Dance Initiative, which, among other things, funded a multi-year market research study on how to build dance audiences. One of the resultant projects was SeeChicagoDance.com, an audience development website, which launched in 2005 and drives ticket sales for dance in Chicago. With its comprehensive calendar, discount ticket sales program, email newsletter and database of proven dance patrons, the site quickly proved to be a success. It was clear that it needed to continue beyond the duration of the Dance Initiative, and Audience Architects was formed to ensure its longevity. Beyond the tremendous growth of the sites, AA has substantially built its programs to become a more robust service organization, becoming the go-to organization for the Chicago dance community to assist with and advocate for the broader needs of the field. Additional services include quarterly convenings for the Chicago dance community, attendance and exposure at regional and national conferences, newly launched public engagement programs such as “Moving Dialogs,” and regranting programs such as MetLife New Stages for Dance. For more information please visit audiencearchitects.com.

For additional information about Audience Architects contact Executive Director Heather Hartley at 312-846-6357 or heather@audiencearchitects.com.

Madigan: State contractor pleads guilty to fraud in obtaining millions in taxpayer-funded contracts

Posted by Newsroom On March - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Construction Contracts for U of I, SIU Edwardsville Unlawfully Obtained

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced the former president of a Peoria area construction firm pled guilty to fraud in a scheme to obtain millions in taxpayer-funded state contracts.

Thomas J. Williams, 81, the former president of the Peoria Heights-based Williams Brothers Construction Inc., pled guilty Wednesday afternoon before Judge John Schmidt in Sangamon County Circuit Court to two counts of mail fraud. Williams admitted using a minority-owned business, BJB Enterprises in Peoria, as a front to obtain two state contracts in 2010 to restore the historic Lincoln Hall at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and to construct a new science complex at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

The felony conviction is the result of an investigation by the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau, which Madigan created to uncover fraud, abuse and waste of government resources.

Madigan said Williams represented to the Illinois Capital Development Board that it would employ BJB Enterprises on the two projects to meet the state contracts’ requirements that a portion of the work be completed by minority-owned businesses. Madigan’s Public Integrity Bureau investigation revealed that BJB Enterprises did not do any work associated with the two contracts or provide any materials for the projects.

“Williams Brothers used this subcontractor as a front to win significant state construction contracts. The company’s illegal acts denied legitimate minority-owned businesses from securing public contracts and defrauded taxpayers,” Madigan said.

Williams, of Peoria, was ordered to pay $1.5 million in restitution to the State of Illinois and sentenced to 30 months of probation. Williams resigned as president of the construction firm in February.

Conviction Latest Example of Work to Restore Public Integrity
Madigan formed the Public Integrity Bureau and tasked it with using the tools afforded the office within statutory limits to uncover public corruption and enforce state law. Public Integrity investigations have led to the convictions of elected officials, public employees and government vendors – from an elected state representative and county state’s attorney to local officials, police officers and rank-and file government workers – who used their positions for personal or political gain.

The Attorney General’s work to fight corruption has extended beyond the scope of her Public Integrity Bureau. During her tenure, Madigan’s office has investigated and prosecuted fraud against government programs, including child care, in-home care, unemployment insurance and student loan programs, Medicaid and state grant funding, and minority business fraud. The Attorney General took legal action to revoke the Emerald Casino license over deep concerns of corruption, and acted to deny taxpayer-funded pension benefits to federally convicted former Governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich.

Madigan also created the new position of Public Access Counselor in her office to serve as a watchdog to public bodies that refuse access to public records. The Public Access Counselor reviews and resolves thousands of public record disputes each year, working to reverse Illinois’ long legacy of a lack of government transparency. Her office has continued this work in the state legislature by helping to draft the State Employees and Officials Ethics Act, tightening revolving door prohibitions on state employees and requiring greater public disclosure of Inspector General investigative reports.

“Public corruption comes in many forms, whether it’s public officials misusing their position for personal gain, government agencies abusing taxpayer funds or government vendors unfairly obtaining public contracts,” Madigan said. “With the legal tools afforded to my office, I’ve fought to uncover corruption, increase accountability and restore the public’s faith in its government at all levels.”

Deputy Bureau Chief Mary Bucaro, Assistant Attorney General David Navarro and Associate Director James S. Dorger handled this case for Madigan’s Public Integrity Bureau.

Embracing Difference: The Future of the DREAM Movement

Posted by Newsroom On March - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Embracing Difference: The Future of the DREAM Movement

New America Media

By Sofia Campos, Catherine Eusebio & Jorge Gutierrez

EDITOR’S NOTE: With the U.S. Supreme Court locked in arguments this week over the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, young activists at the forefront of the DREAMer movement reflect on the historic intersection of the gay and immigrant rights movements, an alliance that has helped bring about concrete political victories.

The undocumented immigrant youth movement has gone through a powerful evolution since its genesis. In the beginning, the ever-present risk of deportation forced only the bravest of us to meet in secret as we sought to support each other in our pursuit of higher education. Others among us felt that the risk was too great to even whisper our immigration status outside of our homes.

Nearly 10 years later, we are no longer isolated or hiding. On the contrary, we now are highly visible. Dozens of undocumented youth have been featured on the cover of TIME magazine. Dulce Matuz of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition was named one of TIME’s most influential people. Benita Veliz became the first undocumented person to address a national political convention. Today, the phrase “undocumented and unafraid” has become a rallying cry for many of us.

Together, we achieved the most significant change in immigration policy in over 20 years—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—winning a reprieve from deportation for more than one million undocumented immigrant youth. Together, we are proving that when affected individuals lead the way and proudly share our stories, we have the power to create positive change and make an impact on a national scale.

And we are not done. As our movement continues to blossom, we are also learning to give space to the diverse experiences within it. While many might attempt to depict our movement as uniform, in reality many of us who share the identity of “DREAMers” exist at the intersection of several movements. From LGBT youth, to women, to Asian Americans, we have resisted the status quo by highlighting our varied stories, weaving these different experiences into one colorful tapestry. Rather than overlooking the leadership of the historically underrepresented communities that exist within our movement, we have embraced them as a source of strength to empower our movement as a whole and advance our collective story.

Perhaps no one moment illustrates this approach better than the one that took place in Memphis, Tennessee, in the spring of 2011. We were gathered at the second United We Dream National Congress. At the time, we were still grappling with the pain and disillusionment of the failure of the federal DREAM Act. Although the momentum and power gained by immigrant youth could not, in the end, be broken by the failure of any legislation, the movement was shaken.

Then, a turning point occurred. Queer, undocumented immigrant youth, or UndocuQueers, stood in front of more than 200 immigrant youth—and “came out.” UndocuQueers undergo a double “coming out” experience, privately and publicly professing identities as queer and undocumented. Many could no longer bear the pain of negotiating, of having to take off their “queer” hat and putting on an “undocumented” one before walking into the immigrant youth movement. The stories of oppression, pain, and struggle of LGBTQ undocumented immigrant youth opened and ignited the hearts of everyone at the Congress, challenging the movement to expand its immigrant youth rights platform and reflect the identities and needs of UndocuQueers. We made a historic commitment to intentionally include and fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community within and outside the immigrant youth movement.

Now, the movement has embraced this “coming out” frame. Community and grassroots organizations such as California’s Orange County Dream Team have been leading intersectional organizing work between the immigrant youth movement and the LGBTQ rights movement in California. UndocuQueers have gained national visibility and have begun to organize and mobilize through initiatives such as the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project. Groups such as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and United We Dream have included LGBTQ family inclusion in their immigration platforms. Moving forward, our LGBTQ-immigrant intersectional voices, experiences, and organizing work will continue to dismantle the homophobia and racism within both mainstream movements.

Ensuring identity-based safe spaces is critical to addressing the nuances of the undocumented experience. Of the 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S., 1.2 million are from Asia. Culture adds significant challenges for undocumented Asian Americans. In Asian American communities, unlawful immigration status is widely stigmatized. Given this need to “save face” in the community and the added fear of deportation, parents place pressure on their children to keep their status a secret. Thus, many undocumented Asians are invisible, isolated, and often unable to access resources.

Undocumented Asian youth who are advocating for immigration reform need the space to connect with one another, and to challenge the cultural attitude that encourages shaming and silences those who deviate from expectations. One pan-Asian DREAM youth organization, Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education, headquartered in San Francisco, gives undocumented Asian youth the space to do just that. The power of our movement lies in our ability to break down silos and allow for intentional, collaborative, multiracial leadership development and organizing.

Similarly, our women members, who understand first hand the multiple layers that can constitute one identity, have led the immigrant youth movement on all levels, from ground-level organizing to national leadership. As organizers, many young undocumented immigrant women have experienced the subtle sexism in spaces of politics, business, and even activism. Consciously recognizing these realities and acknowledging the contributions of women, Asian Americans, and LGBT leaders within our growing movement has led to a cultivation of intersectional work and a commitment to transformative organizing. In turn, this has strengthened our base, grown our partnerships, and helped us expand our vision and understanding of true social justice.

Even more exciting is the fact that this sense of shared strength is preparing us for the next step in our fight. Empowerment is contagious, and our collective empowerment is also having an impact on our families. More and more, our families are stepping out of the shadows and “coming out” as undocumented. Just recently, in Arizona, DREAMer Erika Andiola’s mother, Maria, was released from ICE detention after we mobilized to stop her deportation. Now, Maria appears in a video with Erika, asking other families to share their stories of separation.

This movement began because we used our stories to create safe spaces for ourselves. As we connected across state borders and our urgency for change grew, we learned how to use our voices and our bodies, through actions of nonviolent civil disobedience, to motivate this country to listen and to change. Along the journey, we also learned to find the power in our differences, and to create democratic and transformational models of leadership development and organizing. Moving forward as strategic storytellers and skilled organizers, we will use these lessons learned to highlight the larger narrative about immigration in the U.S. and fight the unjust policies tearing our families apart every day.

Sofia Campos is the board chair of the United We Dream Network. Catherine Eusebio is a social justice fellow at Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. Jorge Gutierrez is a Queer Dream Summer coordinator, a co-founder of DeColores Queer Orange County, and project coordinator of the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project.

DriveLessLiveMore launches Ridesharing Challenge for Earth Day

Posted by Newsroom On March - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Track trips online, win prizes

CHICAGO, IL – The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and the Active Transportation Alliance will launch the Earth Day Rideshare Challenge next month to increase awareness and appreciation by encouraging commuters to consider an alternative form of transit.

The new challenge encourages companies and their staff to participate in a free, team-based carpooling and vanpooling competition for Chicago-area employers by logging on to www.drivelesslivemore.com and tracking their trips. The website features a unique, interactive trip-tracking calendar, which can rank competitors and display statistics, such as greenhouse gases prevented, fuel and money saved, and calories burned. The Earth Day Rideshare Challenge begins April 8 and runs through Earth Day, April 22.

“Ridesharing is a great option for commuters who don’t have easy access to transit or safe cycling routes to their job,” said Richard Kwasneski, Chairman of the Pace Board of Directors. “Getting involved in ridesharing saves commuters money and is easy to do using our free, online matching service at www.PaceRideShare.com.”

The Earth Day RideShare challenge will offer employers the tools to organize their workforce and participate in a fun competition that can encourage environmental and social change.

“Drive Less Live More has proven to be a groundbreaking program for the Chicago region,” said Joe Costello, RTA Executive Director. “We’re very excited how this contest has engaged our transit riders, companies and their employees to leave their cars at home and choose an alternative form of transportation,”

Challenge participants must register at drivelesslivemore.com, and then either create a team or join an existing team for their employer. Each team competes for the highest percentage of carpoolers and vanpoolers among similar-sized organizations.

Teams will find everything they need at the website to prepare their teams including: easy sign-up process, automated trip logging and team ranking, posters, and online resources. Team members can also choose to sign up as an individual participant, track their trips and be eligible to win prizes.

The companies with the highest percentage of employees who log rideshare trips at the website during the challenge win—and all teams will be publicly recognized!

A company wins if it has the highest percentage of employees logging an eligible commute to work in its category during the challenge time-frame. The winning team receives public recognition, a virtual winner’s certificate, and the satisfaction of being the healthiest and greenest workplace in northeastern Illinois.

The RTA’s transit system makes a significant impact on the region’s environment by saving approximately 150 million gallons of gas annually. And as saving money continues to be on everyone’s mind in this economic climate, the drive less live more challenge is another means to encourage travelers to see the value in public transportation and other alternative methods of greener travel.

Learn more by visiting www.drivelesslivemore.com. For all your travel plans, visit www.RTAchicago.com.

The RTA provides financial oversight, funding and regional planning for the three public transit operations in Northeastern Illinois: The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus and train, Metra commuter rail and Pace suburban bus and paratransit. For more information, visit www.RTAchicago.com.

The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit, member-based advocacy organization that works to make bicycling, walking and public transit safe, convenient and enjoyable. We advocate for transportation that encourages and promotes safety, physical activity, health, recreation, social interaction, equity, and resource conservation. The Active Transportation Alliance is supported by more than 7,000 members, 1,000 volunteers and 35 full-time staff. For more information on the Active Transportation Alliance, visit www.activetrans.org or call 312.427.3325.

Illinois State Board of Education announces winners of School Breakfast Challenge

Posted by Newsroom On March - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Partnership gives students a healthy start, fewer sick days, better test scores

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education announced the winners of the Illinois School Breakfast Challenge, showcasing the link between a nutritious breakfast and classroom performance. Twelve school districts from across the State earned $36,000 in cash prizes for dramatically boosting their daily breakfast participation rates and closing the `breakfast gap.’

“This isn’t just about healthy eating,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “It’s about healthy minds, healthy outlooks and healthy futures. Students who eat breakfast are ready to learn and contribute to an overall better school environment.”

Recent studies show students who eat a healthy breakfast have 1.5 fewer sick days per year, see their math scores increase by 17 percent, and are 20 percent more likely to graduate from high school. School breakfast participation also helps decrease discipline and behavioral problems, visits to the school nurse and tardiness, according to studies.

The Illinois School Breakfast Challenge is a partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education, Midwest Dairy Council and Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign. The State of Illinois offers a federally-funded School Breakfast Program, but less than half of eligible students participate by accepting a free breakfast. The Illinois School Breakfast Challenge encourages schools to take advantage of the program, with cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 for schools that most dramatically increase their participation rates.

The twelve winners showed the largest percentage increase across the state in average daily participation of the School Breakfast Program from January-May of 2012 to August-December of 2012.The winners of the Challenge were recognized last week at a ceremony in the Governor’s Mansion and each school won $5,000, $3,000 or $1,000.

Illinois School Breakfast Challenge Winners

Award

School

District

City

$5,000

Jane Addams Elementary Maywood-Melrose Park-Broadview District 89 Melrose Park
Lester Crawl Primary Center Lansing School District 158 Lansing
Lexington Junior High Lexington Jr. High School CUSD 7 Lexington
Lincoln Elementary Maywood-Melrose Park-Broadview District 89 Maywood

$3,000

Harriet Gifford Elementary Elgin Unit School District 46 Machesney Park
Melrose Park Elementary

Maywood-Melrose Park-Broadview District 89

Melrose Park
Olson Park Elementary Harlem Unit District 122 Elgin
West Richland Junior High West Richland CUSD 2 Noble

$1,000

Laurel Hill Elementary Elgin Unit School District 46 Elgin
Sheridan Elementary Elgin Unit School District 46 Elgin
Tonica Grade School

Tonica CCSD 79

Tonica
West Richland High West Richland CUSD 2 Noble

Many schools have instituted universal free breakfasts, which means all students have access to a healthy breakfast. Experts say this reduces any stigma of participating based on income eligibility and ensures that everyone gets a healthy start to the day. Additionally, schools with large increases in participation have instituted non-traditional serving locations, most often serving breakfast in the classrooms.

The School Breakfast Challenge is part of the Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign launched in 2012 with support from the Illinois Commission to End Hunger and Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit which supports No Kid Hungry efforts in 17 states. Award monies can be used toward expanding participation in the winning schools’ breakfast programs.

At the School Breakfast Challenge Awards Ceremony, keynote speaker Billy Shore – who founded Share Our Strength in 1984 in response to famine in Ethiopia – told the audience, “Educators, physicians and business leaders are raising their voices about the impact childhood hunger is having on education, health and the economic future for our country. We can’t have a strong America with weak children.”

A 2011 report by Feeding America found that 745,000 Illinois children are at risk of hunger, about one in five children. Today, thanks in part to the Illinois School Breakfast Challenge, about 350,000 of those children are now eating a healthy breakfast at school, up 5 percent from the previous year.

Goodman Theatre premieres “The Happiest Song Plays Last” by Pulitzer Prize-Winner Quiara Alegria Hudes April 13 – May 12, a commissioned work with Jibaro Music from Legendary Cuatro Player Nelson Gonzalez

Posted by Newsroom On March - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaims April 27 “Quiara Alegria Hudes Day” when 75 lucky Chicagoans will experience all three plays in Hudes’ “Elliot Trilogy” in one day, free at the Goodman

CHICAGO, IL – “Man makes ghost, man keeps ghost. You cannot give your ghost for someone else’s shoulders.” Pulitzer Prizewinning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes unveils The Happiest Song Plays Last—the latest and last play of her acclaimed “Elliot Trilogy”—at Goodman Theatre, produced in association with Teatro Vista. “A writer of enormous empathic gifts” (Time Out New York), Hudes, who also authored the Tony Award-nominated musical In the Heights, “combines a lyrical ear with a sophisticated sense of structure to trace the legacy of war through three generations of a Puerto Rican family” (New York Times). Drawing on the cultural heritage of joyful Jíbaro music developed and performed by Grammy Award nominee Nelson González, The Happiest Song Plays Last was commissioned by the Goodman and supported with a prestigious 2009 Joyce Award for Theater. Edward Torres directs the world-premiere production with an ensemble cast including: Armando Riesco (Water by the Spoonful off Broadway) as Elliot; Sandra Marquez (The Motherfu**er with the Hat at Steppenwolf) as Yaz; Fawzia Mirza (Teddy Ferrara) as Shar; Jaime Tirelli (the independent films 36 Saints and El Cielo Es Azul) as Joaquin; Demetrios Troy (A Christmas Carol) as Ali; and James Harms (The Iceman Cometh) as Lefty. The creative team includes John Boesche (projections), Collete Pollard (set), Christine Pascual (costumes), Jesse Klug (lighting), Ray Nardelli (sound) and Josh Horvath. The Happiest Song Plays Last appears April 13 – May 12 in the Owen Theatre. Opening Night is Monday, April 22. Tickets ($14 – $45; subject to change) can be purchased at GoodmanTheatre.org, 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 N. Dearborn).

Mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaims April 27 “Quiara Alegría Hudes Day”—when the Goodman gives 75 lucky Chicagoans the FREE chance to experience all three plays in Hudes’ “Elliot Trilogy” in one day, under one roof. The day includes Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue (a 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist) in a staged reading by Rivendell Theatre Ensemble; Water By the Spoonful (2012 Pulitzer Prize winner) in a staged reading by Teatro Vista; and a performance of The Happiest Song Plays Last. Visit GoodmanTheatre.org or call 312.443.3800 for performance times and to reserve tickets (limit 2 per person).

“The Goodman is a theater I’ve long admired for premiering new work by some of my favorite writers in one of the richest theater communities in the country,” said playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes. “It’s thrilling to join the Goodman family this spring.” Continued director Edward Torres, “What I love about Quiara’s writing is her honesty and how she tells her story in a fluid, almost musical, way. The Happiest Song Plays Last is particularly poetic and poignant.”

Infused with jíbaro music—songs from the rural inhabitants (the Jíbaros) of Puerto Rico that are sung at the holidays and communal gatherings —The Happiest Song Plays Last follows two kindred souls as they weather life’s trials in a search for love and meaning in a quickly changing world. Amid the Arab Spring uprisings raging across the Middle East, Elliot (Armando Riesco), a tormented Iraq War veteran living in Jordan, embarks on an exciting new adventure—as the star of an action film. Meanwhile, half-way across the world, his fiery community-organizer cousin, Yaz (Sandra Marquez) in Philadelphia takes on a heroic role of her own: as the heart and soul of her crumbling community, providing hot meals and a place to sleep for the needy. The Happiest Song Plays Last features live cuarto music—a type of guitar and the national instrument of Puerto Rico.

The Joyce Foundation, a prominent Chicago institution working to improve the quality of life in the Great Lakes region and across the country, celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Joyce Awards, a prestigious honor that commissions new works from artists of color. Baxter International Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois are Contributing Sponsors for The Happiest Song Plays Last. The National Endowment for the Arts is the Major Production Supporter. The Boeing Company is the Festival Partner for the 2013 Latino Theatre Festival and AztecAmerica Bank, SPC Educational Solutions and State Farm are Consortium Partners. Hoy is the Print Media Sponsor and Chicago Latino Network is the Digital Media Sponsor.

SPECIAL EVENTS AROUND The Happiest Song Plays Last:

AFFINITY NIGHT

An evening of fun, food and pre-show networking with Chicago’s Latino professional leaders from the arts, business and government.

April 18, 5:30pm | At the Goodman |$30 for reception and performance. For tickets, go to GoodmanTheatre.org and use promo code AFFINITY

ARTIST ENCOUNTER + BOOK SIGNING

A conversation with playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes and director Edward Torres. Following the conversation, Hudes will sign her newly published anthology of plays.

April 21, 5 – 6pm discussion and signing| At the Goodman | $5 for Subscribers, Donors and students; $10 for general public. For tickets, call the box office at 312.443.3800.

SCENE NIGHT

Join the Goodman’s Scenemakers, the young professional auxiliary group, for a pre-show reception

April 24, 5:30pm reception, 7:30pm show | At Sopprafina Marketcaffé and the Goodman |Free with Scene Subscription, $50 for general public, but reservation required. For tickets, call the box office at 312.443.3800.

“QUIARA ALEGRÍA HUDES DAY” IN CHICAGO + THE ELLIOT TRILOGY READINGS

Free readings of the first two plays of Hudes’ trilogy, Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue and Water by the Spoonful, followed by a performance of The Happiest Song Plays Last. Attendance is limited to 75 people.

April 27 |At the Goodman| Free, but reservations required. For tickets and times, call the box office at 312.443.3800.

“Slang N’ Friends” Mobile APP launched by African American Tech Start-up

Posted by Newsroom On March - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

New word game app available now for download on Apple and Android platforms

Los Angeles, CA (BlackNews.com) — “Slang n’ Friendz” is the newest and coolest app that provides a fun interactive tool for engaging your social circles. Slang n’ Friendz takes the popular word game app phenomenon to a new level by including colloquial terms dating from the 60’s to present day.

The format and rules are similar to traditional multi-player word games with an added twist. In this app you score bonus points for playing words used in everyday vernacular that aren’t in the formal dictionary. You also have the option to find out the definition of each “Slang” word as they’re play. It’s the only word game on the market with these unique features. The game also provides users a premium option which is Advertisement-free and has unlimited definitions

“Slang n’ Friendz” developer and tech entrepreneur Edwin Benton says his vision for creating this app was to “provide a fun, interactive and educational gaming experience that will engage players of all ages in a new way.”

This is the first app release by Benton’s tech start-up company, The C.A.T. (Cool Application Technology), with many more apps currently in development and set to launch throughout 2013. Benton’s company also provides consulting services to help other aspiring developers navigate the meticulous process and introduce their apps to market.

“Slang n’ Friendz” is now available for free download in both the Apple and Android app markets and is compatible with all iOS and Android devices.

All inquiries related to media, partnership and advertising opportunities and further info should be directed to Shelby Larkin, shelby@slangnfriendz.com, 323-370-9862.

About Slang n’ Friendz:
“Slang n’ Friendz” is the flagship word game app developed by The C.A.T. and was released on March 21st, 2013. For more info, visit www.slangnfriendz.com

About The C.A.T. (Cool Application Technology) Apps:
The C.A.T. was founded in 2012 to help people of color enter the growing but competitive tech industry. The C.A.T. specializes in developing unique technology products to satisfying unique voids in the market and tools for artist branding and promotions. For more info, visit www.thecatapps.com

Casting announced for Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Third Annual Next Up

Posted by Newsroom On March - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Partnership with Northwestern University features three plays in rotating repertory in the Steppenwolf Garage, May 28 – June 16, 2013

CHICAGO, IL – Steppenwolf Theatre Company is proud to announce casting for the upcoming third annual Next Up, continuing Steppenwolf’s commitment to Chicago’s next generation of theater artists. Next Up features three productions presented in rotating repertory, May 28 – June 16, 2013 in the Garage Theatre (1624 N Halsted St), in collaboration with Northwestern University’s MFA programs in Direction and Design. Next Up 2013 showcases the work of graduates of those programs with casts of professional Chicago actors—including nine alumni of the School at Steppenwolf: Fat Pig by Neil LaBute, directed by David Prete; The Drunken City by Adam Bock, directed by Johnny Michael DiResta; and The Internationalist by Anne Washburn, directed by Erin Murray. The directors and designers make their Steppenwolf debut under the mentorship of Steppenwolf staff and artists, including ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro, director Jessica Thebus and scenic designer Todd Rosenthal—all of whom are members of the Northwestern faculty—as well as Steppenwolf Associate Artistic Director Erica Daniels.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Third Annual Next Up

Fat Pig

By Neil LaBute

Directed by David Prete

May 28 – June 16, 2013 in the Garage Theatre (1624 N Halsted St)


Fat Pig features Josh Bywater, Baize Buzan, Anne Joy and JJ Phillips.The creative team includes Chelsey Batson (scenic and costume design), Rebecca Barrett (lighting design), Kevin O’Donnell (sound design), Kathleen Petroziello (stage manager) and Brianna Parry (assistant stage manager).

How many insults can you hear before you have to stand up and defend the woman you love? Tom faces just that question when he falls for Helen, a bright, funny, sexy young woman who happens to be plus-sized—and then some. As Tom explains his new relationship to his shallow (although shockingly funny) co-workers, Fat Pig questions whether anyone can really see past the surface.

The Drunken City

By Adam Bock

Directed by Johnny Michael DiResta

May 29 – June 15, 2013 in the Garage Theatre (1624 N Halsted St)

The Drunken City features Audrey Francis, Emjoy Gavino, Andrew Goetten, Brian King, Darci Nalepa and Sean Parris. The creative team includes Yu Shibagaki (scenic designer), Stephanie Cluggish (costume design), Rebecca Barrett (lighting design), Kevin O’Donnell (sound design), Jonathan Nook (stage manager) and Mary Hungerford (assistant stage manager).

The sparkle of glittery pink cocktails lures three brides-to-be into the city for an epic bar crawl. After a stirring encounter with a handsome stranger, the evening takes a surreal turn that threatens the very future they came to celebrate. In the ups and downs of modern love, sometimes what looks like a drunken party foul might actually be a new beginning.

The Internationalist

By Anne Washburn

Directed by Erin Murray

May 30 – June 16, 2013 in the Garage Theatre (1624 N Halsted St)

The Internationalist features Tony Buzzuto, Amy J. Carle, Andrew Carter, John Gray, Nicholas Harazin and Kelly O’Sullivan. The creative team includes Stephanie Cluggish (scenic designer), Chelsey Batson (costume design), Rebecca Barrett (lighting design), Kevin O’Donnell (sound design), Michelle Medvin (stage manager) and Jennifer McClendon (assistant stage manager).

Lowell, an American on a business trip abroad, is met at the airport by a beautiful colleague. They spend the night together and he thinks he’s in one of those great American movies with travel, romance, adventure and life-changing experience. The next day at the office he discovers that he’s actually in one of those foreign films where nothing is as it seems, there is no moral, and most importantly: no subtitles.

Performance Schedule

Next Up plays Tuesdays through Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 1pm, 5pm and 9pm; and Sundays at 4pm and 8pm. The complete schedule is as follows:

Fat Pig The Drunken City The Internationalist

Tuesday, 5/28 at 8pm* Wednesday, 5/29 at 8pm* Thursday, 5/30 at 8pm*

Friday, 5/31 at 8pm** Saturday, 6/1 at 5pm** Saturday, 6/1 at 8pm**

Saturday, 6/1 at 1pm Sunday, 6/2 at 8pm Sunday, 6/2 at 4pm

Wednesday, 6/5 at 8pm Thursday, 6/6 at 8pm Tuesday, 6/4 at 8pm

Saturday, 6/8 at 5pm Saturday, 6/8 at 9pm Friday, 6/7 at 8pm

Sunday, 6/9 at 8pm Sunday, 6/9 at 4pm Saturday, 6/8 at 1pm

Thursday, 6/13 at 8pm Tuesday, 6/11 at 8pm Wednesday, 6/12 at 8pm

Saturday, 6/15 at 9pm Friday, 6/14 at 8pm Saturday 6/15 at 5pm

Sunday, 6/16 at 4pm Saturday, 6/15 at 1pm Sunday, 6/16 at 8pm

* Preview performance

** Press performance

Tickets to Next Up ($20) go on sale Friday, March 29, 2013. Passes to all three plays are available for $45. Tickets will be available at steppenwolf.org, 1650 N Halsted St or at 312-335-1650. Steppenwolf is located near all forms of public transportation and is wheelchair accessible. Street and lot parking are available.

Support for Next Up comes through the “Leading for the Future Initiative,” a program of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Additional funding for Next Up has been provided by the Northwestern University School of Communication, the Theatre and Interpretation Center at Northwestern University and the Northwestern University Department of Theatre. OptionsHouse is the Garage Series Sponsor.

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