From Center for Performing Arts Executive Director Lana Rogachevskaya

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
― Cesar A. Cruz

Dear Friends:

Your Center for Performing Arts is responding to the current state of the world with virtual programming that invites connection, conversation, creativity, education, and reflection from the safety of your home.

We launched the season with a 25th Anniversary Virtual Season Party on October 10. We welcomed artists who have graced our stage in the past and heard birthday wishes from partners from Chicagoland and beyond.

A joyful song and dance routine or a glorious theatrical extravaganza could not adequately honor this moment of change and disruption. The Covid-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, and the racial justice crisis are wake-up calls that demand a different type of attention. With our venue closed and touring productions on pause, we invite artists to a “virtual campfire” to share the stories that reflect our diverse and vibrant worlds. We bring together artists and audiences to activate compassion for action and healing.

In November and December, we bring the PODCAST PLAY series by MPAACT (Ma'at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre) to create a shared community in a safe virtual format without sacrificing the quality of the art experience. Two podcast plays, Black and Blue and Feral, will invite our audiences to embrace their discomfort with raw, real, and mature language, with candid conversations, neither polite nor politically correct. Black and Blue addresses the conflicted allegiance of two African-American Chicago police officers in the immediate aftermath of the release of the video depicting the killing of Laquan McDonald. Feral tells the story of the death of FX (Francis Xavier), a politically motivated, idealistic graffiti artist, and his family’s struggle with the media response to black victimhood and trauma.

While the podcast plays will offer a theatrical canvas, masterfully composed by MPAACT Playwright Shepsu Aakhu, the BEYOND CONVERSATION series will invite patrons on a deeper dive with artists, scholars, activists, and change-makers in different disciplines who will share their stories, knowledge, perspectives, and solutions. Each segment will spotlight a separate topic attending to media literacy, accountability, trauma, the intersection of opera and race, and “Blue, Black Lives Matter, and Beyond”.

Airing from November through January, the Center brings a multi-media immersive educational experience Through the Eyes of a Friend by Living Voices to share the story of Anne Frank with area schoolchildren. Educators are offered resources on how to teach about the holocaust and incorporate it into curriculum, disrupting comfort with compassion. Students are offered a virtual experience to share with their families inviting inter-generational conversations.

The TAKE FIVE Fest and Opera Cabaret celebrate, inspire, nourish, and comfort our community with familiar artists as well as original numbers by new voices. Our TAKE FIVE Fest invites the campus and community to create, share and enjoy short, digital works, including “made in the Southland”, to activate and inspire. Opera Cabaret showcases four new and exciting Opera Up Close artists spotlighting an eclectic repertoire of opera, Kurt Weill, art songs by African-American composers, and musical theater pieces.

We continue to virtually bring together diverse artists and audiences to create experiences and memories that activate compassion and heal our world. Before we can achieve unity, we need to disturb, disrupt, dismantle biases and stereotypes, so we can educate, connect, and empower. The Center seeks to create what the late John Lewis called “good trouble,” a welcomed tension to effect change.

Your Center will not be silenced. Like Yin and Yang, we’ll merge the familiar with the disruptive, the old with the new. We will embrace resilience through emotional labor, discomfort, and growth, to help deliver humanity out of this darkness.

With appreciation for your patience, resilience, and connection,

Lana Rogachevskaya
Executive Director