The Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department‘s 2021-2022 Mainstage Season opened October 15, 2021, with American Origami/#HereToo-CCC, a program of two devised plays in dialogue about America’s gun violence epidemic. This original production is the result of an exciting collaboration between the Theatre Department, Columbia College’s Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College’s student-run radio station WCRX, the national theatre/activism initiative #HereToo, and members of the internationally acclaimed Tectonic Theatre Project, creators of The Laramie Project. The production runs through October 23 in Studio 404 of the Getz Theatre Center of Columbia College, located at 72 E. 11th St. in Chicago’s South Loop. For a full cast list, show times, and tickets ($10-$15), click here.
American Origami/#HereToo-CCC is a program of devised theatre created by the full companies of the two plays in collaboration with guest artists Barbara Pitts McAdams and Jimmy Maize, members of the Tectonic Theatre Project, the internationally acclaimed company that created such internationally acclaimed works as The Laramie Project, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway hit I Am My Own Wife, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, and the Tony Award-winning 33 Variations. McAdams and Maize are coauthors (with Moisés Kaufman, Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris, Kelli Simpkins, and Scott Barrow) of the book Moment Work: Tectonic Theater Project’s Process of Devising Theater.
Also involved in the collaboration is photographer Andres Gonzalez, whose 2019 book American Origami — an examination of mass shootings in American schools that interweaves first-person interviews, forensic documents, press materials, and original photographs — is the inspiration for the first play on the double bill. American Origami/#HereToo-CCC complements a photo exhibit titled American Epidemic: Guns in the United States, on display through February 20, 2022, at Columbia College’s Museum of Contemporary Photography, located in the college’s Alexandroff Campus Center at 600 S. Michigan, Chicago. In this exhibit ten artists — including Andres Gonzalez — examine the role guns play in structural violence, poverty, systemic racism, and an increasingly militarized police force. Using the photographic medium, the artists provide a nuanced exploration of the way in which guns are yielded in this country, including the politicization of trauma, public mourning (and the rote political refrain of “thoughts and prayers” in response to gun violence), and a host of other issues laid bare by this uniquely American plight.
As previously reported in this blog, American Origami/#HereToo-CCC is part of a national theatre initiative called #HereToo, which amplifies young activists’ voices through performance. Inspired by the 2018 national March For Our Lives, the #HereToo team (including McAdams and Maize) gather stories about gun violence and archive and share these stories with theatre makers who, in turn, make devised performances about these issues as they impact their own communities, using the Tectonic Theater Project’s “Moment Work” system of theatre-making. #HereToo-CCC is the project’s first Midwest version, joining #HereToo-Penn State on the East Coast and #HereToo-WWU (Bellingham, Washington) in the West.