Free Street Theater: "Still/Here: Manifestos for Joy and Survival"


Ensemble photo by Alejandro Reyes

Still/Here: Manifestos for Joy and Survival is Free Street Theater's latest production to bring performance to you and have you bring community into the production. One performance is at Humboldt Park Field House, 1400 N. Humboldt Dr., Sat., July 27, 3 p.m. and another at Walsh Park, 1722 N. Ashland Ave., on Sat., Aug. 3, at 3 p.m. 

Seventeen ensemble artists created this piece and perform in it. Among them are two Logan Square residents, Marilyn Carteño and Agnotti Cowie, and Juan Romero from Avondale. 


"Last Chair" photo by Lena Jackson

Still/Here focuses on a Chicago that is being rebuilt again and again. It asks such questions as  "who is the city designed to serve", "how does our city’s past predict our future" and "what would our city look like if it were truly designed for all of its people?" 

The ensemble based its work on material collected in workshops with community members across the city, as well as interviews and conversations with hundreds of people who were asked to answer the questions: “What’s still here? What isn’t? And what does your joy require?” 


"Umbrella" photographed by Lena Jackson

As part manifesto, part history lesson and part fever-dream of the future, Still/Here  invites audiences to imagine a vision of a city that works for all. 

It is directed and developed by Coya Paz; the Co-Director and dramaturg is Tanuja Jagernauth; the movement director is Boogie McClarin; Will Pettway is the assistant director and additional dramaturgy is provided by Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel. 

The creators and performers include Agnotti Cowie, Alex Dahm, Alfonzo Khalil, Boogie McClarin, Casey VanWormer, Char Lee, JJ Romero, Liz Haas, Marilyn Carteño, Marya Spont-Lemus, Tanima, Taria Michelle Abram, Tristan Zemtseff and Will Pettway. 

Additional writing and workshopping from Aaryanna Gariss, Annette Britton, Le’Var Artybridge, Nicolas del Valle, Sandra Swift, Sebastian Olayo, Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel and Ysaye McKeever. Sound design is by Tristan Zemtseff and set design is by Nina Castillo-D’Angier and Melissa Schlesinger. 

Still here may also be used when talking about the 50 year old theatrical company putting on these great performances. 

“Free Street was founded on the premise that theater should to be exactly what its name suggests: free performances focusing on topical issues, presented in public nontraditional spaces,” says the company’s Artistic Director Coya Paz, who also directs this project. 

"Rehearsal" by Alejandro Reyes

“For decades, we’ve been committed to creating joyful performances that are economically and geographically accessible to people all across Chicago. This year we wanted to explore why equity, joy, justice and sustainability matter in a city like our own, a city marked by vibrant neighborhood cultures that has been fighting systemic displacement and divestment for years.” 

Free Street Theater is an Arts Partner in Residence at The Chicago Park District and is being honored as part of The Year of Chicago Theater by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.




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