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Chicago Children's Theatre to Premiere DIAMOND'S DREAM

Diamond's Dream will debut on Martin Luther King’s Day – Monday, January 18 at 10 a.m. CT.

Chicago Children's Theatre to Premiere DIAMOND'S DREAM

A World Premiere Short Puppet Film About An African-american Child In Chicago Navigating The Covid-19 Pandemic Is The First New Work To Emerge From The Springboard Project, A New Initiative Launched In 2020 By Chicago Children's Theatre To Foster New Works For Young Audiences By Diverse Local Writers.

Titled Diamond's Dream, this new virtual puppet production by Chicago artists Jerrell L. Henderson and Caitlin McLeod will debut on Martin Luther King's Day - Monday, January 18 at 10 a.m. CT - on CCTv: Virtual Theatre and Learning from Chicago Children's Theatre, where it will be posted for free, on-demand viewing.

Diamond's Dream, the first Springboard project to be produced for online viewing, takes place on a CTA Red Line train traveling south through pandemic-era Chicago.

Diamond, a pre-teen African-American boy, has fallen asleep on the train while on his way to visit his dying grandmother. When he awakes, time and reality have shifted, and he meets the ghost of a young African-American girl, a shape-shifting elder spirit who died of Spanish Flu 100 years ago to the date. Both are confronted with paranormal puppets and images representing society's ills - ignorance, poverty and racism. While the spirit girl seeks only rest, Diamond comes to understand she must first be remembered in order to find it.

Since Chicago Children's Theatre's founding in 2005, the company has developed and produced 20 world premiere plays, alongside many pre-existing works. Almost all, however, have been adaptations of classic or contemporary children's books.

So, when Covid-19 closed down theaters around the world last spring, CCT Co-founder and Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell saw an opportunity to invite accomplished playwrights, predominately Chicago-based BIPOC artists, many who had not written for young audiences before, to develop original TYA projects.

In the current January issue of Chicago Magazine, in an exclusive Diamond's Dream preview, Russell admitted, "as a whole, children's theater has had a deservedly bad rap," citing past perceptions of plays for kids as "dumb, not sophisticated, and not speaking to children in the way they deserve to be spoken to."

i??After Covid hit, Russell decided, "we pretty much knew we were canceling an entire season, and we wanted to keep artists working, so we thought this is the time to take some risks."

i??"With the invitation from Jacqui and CCT to create a new work, I tried to think of a story I would have wanted to watch as a child," said Henderson. "Themes surrounding the humor that comes out of the often absurdity of life, themes of loss, and the resilience of our connection to history and love, how love can be sustained and survive across generations, have always been a part of what attracts me to a story. Even when I was a young child. So, I started there."

"To work with a children's theater that respects their audience, and understands that kids can grasp big concepts, is an honor," said McLeod, who collaborated with Henderson on Chicago Children's Theatre's hit 2019 production of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show. "The work we are able to create together with CCT is able to go deeper and hit harder, while still bringing the magic and wonder that is at the heart of many children's stories."

Diamond's Dream is created by Jerrell L. Henderson and Caitlin McLeod, directed by Jerrell L. Henderson and designed by Caitlin McLeod. Music and sound design are by Daniel Ison. Jeff Paschal is director of photography. Voice over actors are Davu Smith (Diamond and Amira Danan (Elder). Diamond's Dream is produced by CCT artistic director Jacqueline Russell and director of production Will Bishop.

In addition to Henderson and McLeod, Greg Allen, Micah Figueroa, Isaac Gómez, GQ, Terry Guest, Ike Holter, Nambi E. Kelley and Daniel Carlton, Sully Ratke, Lanise Shelley and Justin Ellington, and Elizabeth Wong make up the group of 14 Chicago artists who received commissions through CCT's Springboard Project to conceive new ideas for original TYA plays.

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