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Black and Blue

Written by Shepsu Aakhu

Directed by Andrea J. Dymond

Davoe Sexton and Jayson Rabedeau patrol the notorious neighborhood on Chicago’s long-neglected south-east side. The area is known to locals as “Terror Town.” As veteran cops who “happen to be Black,” these men must navigate the streets, the policies of policing and the deeply conflicted roles that they play in the lives of those that they are supposed to “serve and protect.” Set in 2016, these officers find themselves at ground zero when long-suppressed evidence surfaces, illuminating an officer-involved shooting on the very streets that they patrol. Over the course of a single day, these officers must confront the most corrosive questions that face African-American officers. Are they Black? Are they Blue? Or are they a volatile mix of Black and Blue?

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Written by Tina Fakhrid-Deen

Directed by Erica Faye Watson

King Davis is a recovering addict whose only legacy is the six-flat building in Bronzeville that his mother owns and it is in immediate threat of being taken from his family due to mounting back taxes. King swoops in to save the day only to find out his mama has entrusted the building’s future to a new neighbor. How can King finally show who he is when the people around him only see him for who he was? This searing drama is about survival, loss, and redemption. Dandelions is about who gets to stay and who’s weeded out.

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Written by Nambi E. Kelley

Directed by Chuck Smith

MiLK traces the story of three adolescent girls living in the shadow of a Chicago housing project. We follow “Baby” and her spirit force “Womaclown” as they tackle the difficult issues of coming of age in such a difficult environment.  Nambi E. Kelley skillfully utilizes rhythmic dialogue to elevate the character’s street language into poetry, thus bringing out the mystical elements hidden in the everyday world.  MiLK takes an audience through a painful yet beautiful life journey that is as rich and nourishing in it’s poetry as it’s unifying image of milk.  

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Notes from the Bottletree

Written by Addae Moon

Directed by Shepsu Aakhu

Jules is an artist on the verge. But her traumatic past and her family’s “strange ways” steadily encroach upon her carefully constructed world, like Kudzu. Her work and relationships are threatened by the sudden arrival of her brother Red, a wild-eyed ex-con and a magnet for trouble. Theirs is a relationship sealed in blood and by blood. Can Jules ever repay her blood debt?

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Starting Over

Written by Shepsu Aakhu

Directed by Lauren "LL" Lundy

We all grow and change over time, and reconnecting with an old lover is complicated. The pair of former small-town lovers in Starting Over, however, have a dramatic change to confront when they reunite in a major city. With one of them now expressing their true identity, they must decide if they can re-spark the flames despite the changes- both physical and emotional- they’ve undergone. 

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Written by Idris Goodwin

Directed by Keli Garrett

There’s something strange about the trendy new restaurant in town. When Ann and Rachelle meet there for dinner, there’s already tension in the friendship they’ve built on their common experience navigating academia as black women: While Ann just got tenure at her tony liberal arts college, Rachelle’s struggling to find her place at the less prestigious state university. So at first it’s easy to overlook odd things like the single water glass they’re offered, or the mysterious server who keeps assigning points to their conversational gambits. But as the hunger sets in, the two professors find themselves the unknowing stars of an absurdist dinner theater performance of black plight. Somebody’s got to get the first bite, after all. A sharp, surreal satire about who gets a place at the table.

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Written & Directed by Shepsu Aakhu

Young black activist Francis Xavier — known to his friends as FX — has been waging a politically-motivated graffiti campaign, spraying the word “FERAL” on the sides of buildings all over the city. In the heat of a late July night, FX is caught in a moment of violence with the local police. The resulting controversy engulfs the city and the country, with FX’s friends, family and members of his movement pulled into the fray. But will all this commotion overshadow the complex ideas FX hoped to communicate

Mother of the Dark Water

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Devised and Directed by Lauren Wells-Mann

Vocal Arrangements by Lynsey Moxie

Original Music by Danjuma Gaskin

Inspired by original images of the Black Madonna, five Black women decide to reclaim their truth and voices in the normative feminist movement. Based on personal stories, original poetry and movement, Mother of the Dark Water celebrates the power of speaking out, resistance and self-love.

Speaking in Tongues: The Chronicles of Babel

Written by Shepsu Aakhu

Directed by Andrea J. Dymond

Aakhu’s docudrama, drawn from interviews with his extended family who were residents of Washington Park from the 1960’s to the ’80s. Speaking in Tongues offers an incredibly vivid feel of what life was like in the buildings, from the promise of move-in day in the 1960s to the degrading, caged-in atmosphere prevailing after the city installed steel cages along the balconies. A collage of memories resonate with truths both humorous and poignant, violent and disturbing, Speaking in Tongues is a rare theatrical experience – first hand insights from an often obscured and dismissed sector of Black American reality. 

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Tad in 5th City

Written and Directedby Carla Stillwell

Adapted from the works of Oron Kenyatta Marshall

After the assassination of Dr. King, on April 4, 1968, Violence erupted on Chicago’s west side, consuming a 28-block stretch of West Madison Street.  This traumatic moment changed the landscape of the city and an entire generation.  The generation that walks through the world of Tad in 5th City.  A generation of young men and women who “watched the genesis of the ghetto sphere” evolve.  The ghetto of many of today’s rappers imaginations grew out of this reality.  And for the parts of Chicago’s West Side that have survived gentrification, still exist today.  Told through the eyes of 10-year-old Tad Brown, Tad in 5th City showcases his daily life in the aftermath of those riots, chronicling Tad’s journey as he navigates a post-rioting city amidst the effects of gang violence, poverty and addiction.

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By Association

Written by Shepsu Aakhu

Directed by Lauren Wells-Mann

Chicago has been rocked by a terror attack. In a downtown subway an immigrant teenage boy (Omar) with a backpack has been recorded entering the train just moments before the attack. As the government scrambles to respond… everyone connected to that youth comes under suspicion. By Association follows Abdi, a first generation African American teen, who because of his relationship with Omar is now the subject of a federal manhunt. His parents, one from America and the other from Ethiopia, must decide what to do to protect their child. The unanswered question… Is he a terrorist, or simply guilty By ASSOCIATION?

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Intersectional Lovin'

Written and Performed by Nevada Montgomery

Directed by Lauren Wells-Mann

At the intersection of her Black, queer, and female identities, Nevada Montgomery is looking for love. Lyrical confessions cross boundaries and blend the genres of storytelling and spoken word. Nevada lives at the intersection of hilarious and heartbreaking, vulnerability and brutal honesty. Through her we are reminded of just how fluid our identities are and how absurd the human condition is.

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Never the Milk & Honey

Written by Shepsu Aakhu

Directed by Carla Stillwell

There are covenants that bind certain people together – man and woman, Pastor and flock, humanity and divinity.  Never the Milk and Honey explores the fall-out when those covenants are broken.  Can those covenants ever be rebuilt?

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Spoken Word

Written by Shepsu Aakhu

Directed by Lauren "LL" Lundy

Resonant with Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Spoken Word takes place in a small community dominated by hearsay, fear, outrage, and over-reaching authority figures. On the isolated campus of a Midwest university, sex, race, and gender collide in an epic culture war. At the center of this genre-bending drama are two undergrads – one Persian, the other Black – trying to navigate their conflicted feelings, while social loyalties, family obligations, and administrative pressures encroach on their privacy with an oppressive need to know everything about their sexual encounter gone wrong. In Spoken Word everyone will have their say, and it all turns on a single word – never spoken.

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The Fag-tionary

Written and performed by Osiris Khepera

Directed by Carla Stillwell

Beyonce has her Beehive. 

Rihanna has her Navy.

Minaj has her Barbz. 

D’Lisha has… Well, D’LISHA.

After the final show of her farewell tour,  the Internationally Renowned Drag Legend, Thee Countess, D’Lisha von Janksynsmurt, sits for tea time with an unexpected stranger recounting tales of yesteryear, yesterday, yes him too… While on the journey Back Down Memory Lane, D’Lisha faces some truths she might have forgotten (accidentally on purpose) along the way. Through the stranger, we discover a Queen, harkening back to a land before time,  living the realities of modernity, realizing who she is before it’s too late. Maybe.

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