Evanston performing arts organizations have joined forces to provide virtual performances that create spaces for joy and healing amid challenging times.

The Teen Devised Theatre project, a partnership between Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Mudlark Theatre and Piven Theatre, will end 2020 with the world premiere of the original play, “Am I The Only One Here?” at 7 p.m. on Dec. 31. The play was written by an ensemble of youth actors and artists, with the support of Mudlark’s Artistic Director Andrew Biliter and alumna Olivia Nicholson.

“The everyday stories of our high schoolers perfectly sums up all the good we’ve gleaned from this year. It’s the few laughs we forgot and the clarity we found. In an online world, this production has been my relief. It was constant, true human connection and honesty. We laughed so hard and provided support for all of this year’s troubles. I’m beyond excited for the community to see what we’ve been working on,” said Ms. Nicholson, a graduate of the ETHS Class of 2019.

Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre Artistic Director Tim Rhoze said the collaboration between Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Mudlark Theatre and Piven Theatre gives young Evanston performing artists the resources to be creative.

“The ensemble’s young people have taken the opportunity to seize the moment with their collective voices and take ownership of the creative process. This episodic play is their gift to us. And their voices, their opinions, their fears and aspirations are raw and wonderfully poignant,” Mr. Rhoze told the RoundTable.

The play will be broadcast at onlyonehere.givesmart.com followed by a post-broadcast panel discussion featuring the ensemble, and moderated by Olivia Nicholson. Registration is free. Register separately for the post-broadcast panel hosted on the Zoom webinar here.

The Teen Devised Theatre project was completed with the support of Nathan Norman of the City of Evanston’s Youth/Young Adult Division and funding from the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. The project is partially funded by the Evanston Arts Council, in partnership with the City of Evanston, the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“A New World,” the first installation of the new Evanston Performing Arts Collective (EPAC), will launch at 5p.m. on Jan. 1. The installation is a multi-disciplinary performance of the song, “A New World,” from the theatrical song cycle Songs for a New World by Jason Robert Brown.

The collective mobilizes the combined talents and resources of Evanston-based performing arts organizations: Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre and The Musical Offering, along with Dance Center Evanston and Studio5 Performing Arts Center.

EPAC has as its mission, “Celebrating Life, Community and the Arts.”

“We are very excited to be presenting our first installation of “A New World” with EPAC. Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre stands proud with our founding partners, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre and The Musical Offering. The idea is that collectively through the performing arts, we can continue to bring our voices to the Evanston community through strength, inclusiveness and hope as we face the healing process that lies ahead for all of us,” Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre Artistic Director Fred Anzevino told the RoundTable.

It’s very exciting,” Rick Ferguson, Artistic and Executive Director, and co-founder of The Musical Offering, said about the launch of EPAC’s first installation.

“The Musical Offering is in its 20th year as Evanston’s home-grown, grass roots music school. Part of the initial conversation I was having with Tim [Rhoze] and Fred [Anzevino] about forming EPAC as a collective during this particular time is that we figured out that our organizations can absolutely step up and do what the arts tend to do really well, which is to reflect back to all of us what’s going on culturally.

“It’s sort of holding up a mirror to our community, but then also to envision together as a community what can happen if we decide to come together and move together into the future. And what do we want that future to look like. In my experience, it’s been shown to me over and over again that the arts can do that,” said Mr. Ferguson.

Dance Center Evanston Director Béa Rashid told the RoundTable she is looking forward to future collaborations.

“Dance Center Evanston (DCE) was able to support this presentation of “A New World” by filming Kara Roseborough’s choreography in our Studio5 theatre. As EPAC moves forward, DCE will be involved in whatever capacity benefits the group. We have the space, we have the technology and we have creative and talented dancers eager to perform,” said Ms. Rashid.

Mr. Rhoze said the emphasis of the collective is to highlight performing arts talents in and around Evanston.

“My belief is that together, Evanston performing arts organizations will make Evanston a place where the performing arts will not just survive, but thrive. Our unique geographical location will make Evanston a destination for those looking for diverse, quality performing arts entertainment in one of the most beautiful cities in America,” said Mr. Rhoze.

To view “A New World,” follow the link: https://youtu.be/zohbMUUDseI

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.