Collaboraction Theatre Company Announces Major Staff Expansion

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Collaboraction, Chicago's theater for social change, announces a major staff expansion in tandem with their first season at Kennedy-King College in Englewood.

On the artistic staff, Chicago writer, director and actor J. Nicole Brooks has joined the company as Associate Artistic Director. Emmy Weldon is Collaboraction's new Director of Production. Teh'Ray Hale aka PHENOM has been named Director of Creative Community Cultivation.

On the administrative side, Dr. Marcus Robinsion has been promoted to Executive Director. Tweed Thornton has joined the company as Managing Director. Elsa Hiltner was promoted to Director of Development.

Co-founding Artistic Director Anthony Moseley retains his artistic leadership position while welcoming this incredible team to the task of cultivating theater and audiences as a resident theater on Chicago's south side.

This expansion was made possible by the successful implementation of Collaboraction's One City business plan which is already increasing funding for and artistic output by artists from the south and west sides, as well as becoming a resident theater at Kennedy-King College's performing arts center.

Moseley said, "J. Nicole Brooks and PHENOM bring our company two skilled, and experienced artists with the ability to cultivate and mentor the next generations of great south side theater artists. Emmy Weldon, our new Director of Production, is a professional set designer and technician who will add enormous value to our productions. I am also delighted to relinquish the Executive Director position to Dr. Marcus Robinson and his wealth of vision and skills. This is a seminal moment in the 23 year history of Collaboraction."

"Being promoted to Executive Director of one of Chicago's leading theater companies that combines artistic excellence with important social change work is a dream come true," said Robinson. "Working closely with Anthony Moseley and our team of theater makers allows me to bring my years of experience in social change, inclusion and equity into a new level of focus on community transformation. I am confident Elsa Hiltner, our new Director of Development, will help us reach new levels of sustainable growth. Having a proven nonprofit leader-manager like Tweed Thornton allows for greater fiscal stability as we grow our newly emerging residency at Kennedy-King College."

About Collaboractiona??

Collaboraction, Chicago's social contemporary theater, collaborates with a diverse community of Chicagoans, artists and community activists to create original theatrical experiences that push artistic boundaries and explore critical social issues. Since the company's founding in 1996, Collaboraction has worked with more than 3,000 artists to bring more than 60 productions and events to more than 150,000 audience members.

Collaboraction is producing its 23rd season mainstage shows at Kennedy-King College in Englewood. In January 2020, they present the 3rd annual Encounter Series and in April 2020 the world premiere of Red Island by Anthony Moseley and Carla Stillwell about racism in the United States of America.

For the past five years, Collaboraction has partnered with the Chicago Park District through their Night Out in the Parks program, returning each year to cultivate relationships and theater in Englewood, Austin and Hermosa through the Crime Scene, PEACEBOOK and Encounter tours. Production highlights also include its series of Crime Scene productions responding to Chicago's crime epidemic; 15 years of the SKETCHBOOK Festival; and the YO SOLO Festival of Latino Solo Shows, co-produced with Teatro Vista.

Collaboraction is led by Artistic Director Anthony Moseley, Executive Director Dr. Marcus Robinson, a company of 20 talented Chicago theater artists, and a dedicated staff and board of directors. The company's vision is to utilize theater to cultivate dialogue and action around our most critical social issues throughout Chicago.

Collaboraction is supported by The Chicago Community Trust, The Joyce Foundation, The Field Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, DCASE and the Wicker Park & Bucktown SSA #33 Chamber of Commerce, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

For more, visit, follow the company on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube or Instagram, or call the Collaboraction box office, (312) 226-9633.

Collaboraction Key Staff Bios

Anthony Moseley (Artistic Director, he/him) has been the Artistic Director of Collaboraction since 1999, using theater as a tool of knowledge, empathy, dialogue and action. Through this work, Moseley has commissioned and collaborated with thousands of artists to build a more equitable future for Chicago through projects including Sketchbook Festival, Peacebook, Encounter and The Light youth theater festival. As a writer/director he created Crime Scene: a Chicago Anthology and its four sequels, This is Not a Cure For Cancer, Connected and A Blue Island in the Red Sea. In 2018, Collaboraction was honored with a Comcast/Ovation Stand for the Arts Award and an Otto Award for "ground-breaking political theater." He is currently devising Red Island, a piece about racism in America, premiering at Kennedy-King College in Spring 2020.

Dr. Marcus Robinson (Executive Director, he/him) is a thought leader on the issues of equity, diversity and inclusion. He has led community transformation and organization change initiatives throughout North America. At the core, he is an artist, mystic and educator. In his role as Executive Director of Collaboraction, he leverages a lifetime of creativity with a stellar career in nonprofit leadership to create devised theater to educate, inspire and promote positive change in our communities.

Luis Crespo (Director of Youth Programming, he/him) is a Collaboraction Company member, has worked with After School Matters for 17 years and has been a Teaching Artist in Chicago for over 12 years. He uses theater, creative writing and the arts to inspire and motivate hundreds of young men and women to find, amplify and share their voice while creating original works for the stage. He has worked with Association House of Chicago, CCAP (Center for Community Arts Partnership), AIM (Artists In Mentorship), American Theater Company's American Mosaic, Memory Ensemble, Changing Worlds, Northside Learning Center, ChiArts and Bridge after school programs.

Sarah Moeller (Producing Director, she/her) is a Collaboraction company member and Chicago-based director, dramaturg and producer. She stage managed Sketchbook 6, 7 and 8, and produced Sketchbook 9 - 12. She project manages Collaboraction's For Hire and production managed and produced mainstage shows since 2007. She is a dramaturg and director for Eclipse Theatre and has worked at Teatro Vista, Around the Coyote and Victory Gardens. She is also a social studies teacher for Chicago Catholic schools in underserved communities.

J. Nicole Brooks (Associate Artistic Director, she/they), also known as Docta Slick, is an actor, playwright, author, director, educator and social justice warrior. Born on the west side and raised on the south side, Brooks has a vested interest in creating stories inspired by Chicago history. They are an award winning artist with honors from TCG Fox Fellowship Foundation, American Theatre Wing, League of Chicago Theatres, LA Ovation, Black Theatre Alliance, Black Ensemble Theatre (BPI), and the National Endowment for the Arts. Plays include HeLa (Kilroy List 2019), Black Diamond, and the first play in a series on Chicago mayors Her Honor Jane Byrne. Television credits include roles on The Chi, South Side with several projects in development. Brooks is an ensemble member with Lookingglass Theatre Company.

Elsa Hiltner (Director of Development, she/her) is a company member of Collaboraction, costume designer, writer/organizer on theatrical labor equity and artist. She has worked with Collaboraction since 2007, and joined staff in 2017. She also co-created Collaboraction's The Mars Assignment, a production on mental illness and stigma.

Tweed Thornton (Managing Director, he/him) has over 15 years of experience starting conversations, building communities, and creating solutions for nonprofit organizations and other community groups in Chicago. He founded Four Star Initiatives in 2017 after serving as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago for almost a decade. Other organizations he has worked with include WTTW, Health Care Council of Chicago, The Back Office Cooperative, Publicity Club of Chicago, and Alliance Francaise de Chicago. Thornton holds a BFA in Theatre Management from The Theatre School at DePaul University.

PHENOM, born Teh'Ray Hale, (Director of Creative Community Cultivation, he/him) learned to rhyme in the back streets of Chicago and has dedicated his life to empowering communities through his music. In 1995, First Lady Michelle Obama chose him for the Public Allies program where he had the opportunity to work with and teach youth about violence prevention strategies. As the Founder and CEO of the award-winning POETREE Chicago (People's Organized Entertainment Teaching Righteous Education Everywhere), he assisted in the development of programs such as YouMedia, The GoodLife Organization, HipHop Detoxx and L.Y.R.I.C. Mentoring (Let Your Rhymes Inspire Creativity) with co-founder and national poet K-Love in 2009. Phenom recently started the innovative arts mentoring program "EmceeSkool " which trains Chicago-based young adult artists as Peace Ambassadors who use their art as instruments of peace. The program offers them opportunities to write and perform as a non-violent means to stopping the violence in their neighborhoods.

Emmy Weldon (Director of Production, they/them) is a scenic designer and artist based in Chicago. They have always been passionate about using theater as a catalyst for social change. It is their dream come true to be a part of this amazing community uplifting unheard voices and dismantling oppression through empathy and action. They earned their M.F.A. in production design and technology from Ohio University. Their most recent design credits include scenery for Collaboraction's 2019 Peacebook tour, The Light, and Encounter series. Other recent design credits include various TV commercials as well as associate art direction for The Steve Harvey Show season five St.Patrick's Day and Halloween episodes.

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