Raven Theatre's 'Take Flight' Program to Present BROKEN TEXT This Week

Based on stories collected through interviews at St. Leonard's Ministries with men in transition from incarceration in the Illinois prison system, Broken Text examines the past, present, and future of these individuals and the communities in which they live.

Through theatrical interpretations written and devised by Mechelle Moe of Raven Theatre's Take Flight education program, original spoken-word responses by Senn Arts High School students, musical selections by living composers Marc Mellits, Edgar Meyer, and John Adams performed by Fifth House Ensemble, and soundscapes by DJ/Producer Searchl1te, these previously untold stories find a voice.

A report released this past April 20th by The New York Times stated that 1.5 million black men are is essence "missing" from American society, due to their high rates of incarceration and deaths from violence at young ages. The report estimates 45,000 of such "missing" men are from Chicago alone. Broken Text will explore the lives and diverse experiences of some of these men. The piece explores the culture of violence that has become known as "Chiraq" and leads so many young men into the criminal justice system and prison, as well as the diverse experiences of the men's lives in prison and challenges in transition back to the outside world following their release.


Broken Text
Written by Mechelle Moe
Directed by Mechelle Moe & Joel Ewing
Performed by Senn Arts High School
Tuesday, May 19 & Wednesday May 20, 2015 at 7pm
Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark Street
Free Admission - Reservations not required
Call 773-338-2177 for more information

History of Broken Text:

In partnership with St. Leonard's Ministries, Raven Theatre and Fifth House worked with residents at St. Leonard's to conduct story circles reflecting on emotions and memories related to their path to incarceration. This dialogue led to interviews and writing exercises conducted by Mechelle Moe, Director of Education at Raven Theatre, over the course of one month in September of 2014. These interviews-in conjunction with letters, original poems and songs-became the basis for a new theatrical work written by Moe entitled Broken Text.

The script sheds light on a range of themes as discussed with men at St. Leonard's and explore poverty, social class, family, friends, religion, gangs, drugs, and violence, paired with recent headlines in the Chicago press engaging these issues.

I am the thing that your mother warned you about. Every day she tells you to be careful because of me. No matter how hard you try at some point you will cross me. I've been marched in, stepped through and spit on, and still nothing happens until you cross me. - The Streets (Written by a participant at St. Leonard's Ministries.

Broken Text was then offered to students at Orr Academy who worked with Mechelle Moe and Fifth House Ensemble musicians in a residency that combined the curriculum of their English class with the newly developed script. The script and residency activities created a unique opportunity for the Orr Academy students to learn about the lives of others, but also facilitated a newfound confidence in their reading, public speaking, and performance abilities in order to tell their own stories. The three month long residency culminated in a staged reading of Broken Text at Orr High School.

Raven's workshopping and exploration of Broken Text then continued in residencies at Sullivan High School with two Freshman English classes and Senn Arts, where students engaged in full rehearsal process leading to performances May 19 & 20, 2015.

About Raven Theatre's Take Flight Program:

Take Flight encompasses in-school residencies, classes, camps and field trips. For the past decade, we have served the Edgewater/ Rogers Park/Andersonville communities, providing students with an opportunity to learn the basic principles and disciplines of theatre, and to use theatre tools as a means of improving life skills. Take Flight provides Chicago Public School students with the excitement of what is often their first exposure to the theatre and the first step toward a life-long interest in theatre arts.

CLASSES Saturday Series classes are weekend workshops offered every fall and spring for young actors looking to enhance their theatre skills. Classes include improv, stage combat, musical theatre & more.

CAMPS Create life-long memories at our Take Flight Summer Camps. Over the course of two weeks, students create their own theatrical performances inspired by classic & popular children's stories.

About Senn Arts:

Senn Arts is a Fine and Performing Arts Magnet Program where creative Chicago students pursue artistic and academic excellence. Senn Arts provides students with an environment that fosters academic, social, and personal growth to cultivate artistic members of the global community.

Raven Theatre's Take Flight program has been in residency at Senn High School since 2007 and has been working with the arts magnet program since its inception. Mechelle Moe has directed over 6 productions at Senn Arts in the past four years, including two shows (Our America and Metamorphoses) that were invited to the Illinois High School Theater Festival.

About Fifth House Ensemble:

The Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble (5HE) is a versatile and dynamic group praised by The New York Times for its "conviction, authority, and finesse." Having pioneered the art of narrative chamber music with its signature series Black Violet, The Weaver's Tales, and In Transit, Fifth House's innovative programs engage audiences through their connective programming and unexpected performance venues. Bringing its signature connective programming from the stage to the classroom, 5HE develops young audiences through curriculum-integrated interactive concerts and residencies for students grades K-12. A member of the Illinois Arts Council's Arts-in-Education Roster, 5HE has presented performances and residencies at Chicago public schools and the Chicago Cultural Center in partnership with the International Music Foundation, the Chicago Teachers' Center, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, and Ravinia's Reach*Teach*Play program. Programs are customized to the curriculum of each school, with the goals of promoting active listening skills and connecting music to a wide variety of subjects

Artist Bios:

Mechelle Moe (Director) has been working with Raven Theatre as a lead teaching artist since 2009 and took over as Raven's Director of Education in 2012. In addition to Raven's programming, she teaches for various organizations including Lookingglass Theatre, Court Theatre, Lifeline Theatre and TimeLine Theatre. Mechelle has appeared on stage at TimeLine in The Apple Family Plays (That Hopey Changey Thing and Sorry), My Kind of Town, The Front Page, The Children's Hour, Not Enough Air, and Paradise Lost. She has also performed with The Hypocrites, a company she co-founded in 1997, and served as Managing Director until 2007), Court Theatre, Griffin Theatre, Lifeline, A Red Orchid, Steppenwolf, and Writers' Theatre, among others. Moe received a Non-Equity Jeff Award for Actress in a Principal Role and an After Dark Award for her performance as the Young Woman in The Hypocrites' production of Sophie Treadwell's Machinal and Jeff Award nomination for Actress in a Principal Role for her performance in Stage Door.

Joel Ewing (Co-Director) is the Lead Theatre Teacher at Senn Arts Magnet High School in Chicago, IL. Joel is a proud recipient of the Teacher Incentive Grant from the Oppenheimer Family Foundation that underwrites the outstanding efforts of CPS teachers who enhance and enrich the educational lives of their students through project-based learning. In addition to his education work, Joel is also a member of LiveWire Chicago Theatre where he appeared in The Mistakes Madeline Made and Oohrah! at the Steppenwolf Garage, as well as a member of The Hypocrites where he recently appeared as Andrei in Three Sisters and The Baker in Into the Woods.

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