Social change takes center stage at Northwestern School of Law

Members+of+Collaboraction+Theatre+Company+perform+in+%E2%80%9CCrime+Scene+Chicago+2015%3A+Let+Hope+Rise%E2%80%9D+Wednesday+evening.+The+show+served+as+a+call+to+action+and+catalyst+for+social+justice.

Amanda Svachula/The Daily Northwestern

Members of Collaboraction Theatre Company perform in “Crime Scene Chicago 2015: Let Hope Rise” Wednesday evening. The show served as a call to action and catalyst for social justice.

Amanda Svachula, Reporter

Northwestern’s Law School used the power of theater as a catalyst for social change Wednesday night by presenting a free performance of “Crime Scene Chicago 2015: Let Hope Rise.”

Featured as a part of D.R.E.A.M. Week, a set of events to recognize the efforts and achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr., the docudrama gave the audience a look at the segregation, violence and crime that have permeated Chicago throughout history.

“I wanted to make a piece of theater that dealt with our most critical social conditions,” show creator Anthony Moseley said. “Being a Chicagoan, I felt like the violence in the city is our most pressing issue and is one we need to deal with. I thought theater could be a powerful weapon and tactic to create a more peaceful Chicago.”

As a docudrama, the show used nonfiction material collected from news articles, Twitter and Facebook comments, to fuel the story. The play was split into chapters, beginning with a chapter describing the background of crime and violence in Chicago and ending with individuals’ stories of overcoming hardship. Issues such as segregation, poverty and popular culture were depicted in small segments. Moseley incorporated raps and songs into the show to contribute to the vibrancy of the stories and their messages.

The show was followed by a panel discussion where the audience talked about issues presented in the play. The performance of “Crime Scene” was unique to D.R.E.A.M Week this year.

“It is very different from what we have done,” said Shannon Bartlett, director of diversity, education and outreach at Northwestern Law. “In the past we usually just did panel discussions. But interest in this has been staggering.”

The show reflected the recent rise of violence, crime and racial issues in the media.

“As law students, we don’t have a lot of opportunities to interact with the community, and this event can bring us together,” law student Jenna Harris said. “I think it’s the best time to have this. These issues are on my mind, and having a candid conversation about current events will be beneficial to the public.”

One of the main messages of the show was to not only raise awareness of violence and crime in Chicago, but also to call the audience to action. By bringing real, and in some cases extremely violent, situations to life, the actors caused the audience to empathize with their characters. They continuously emphasized the message of “Let Hope Rise.”

“The main message of the show is look at history  — look at how we got to this point of segregation and economic disparity and look where we’re going,” Moseley said. “Eventually, we will overcome inequality of all kinds. But until then we are in a continuum. You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.”

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