Arts Alliance strives to create accessible theatre


Photo courtesy of Charlotte Jones, Photo by Justin Barbin

Students perform during Mee-Ow’s “How Do They Pee in Mee-Owter Space” in Shanley Pavilion.

Jamie Kim, Reporter

Art that is easy to relate to. Art that is easy to speak with. Art that is easy to reach.

These are the three pillars of Arts Alliance, a Student Theatre Coalition board dedicated to bringing accessible, relatable and universally identifiable work to audiences at Northwestern. Communication senior and Artistic Director Charlotte Jones said the organization aims to create relatable work that leaves audiences with thought-provoking and entertaining experiences.

“(We are) dedicated to community reflection and growth,” Jones said. “We’re always looking for new ways to improve and make art even easier to relate to, even easier to speak with and even easier to reach.”

Each fall, Arts Alliance holds its Garden Party and Fall McCormick shows. The board helps produce two Mee-Ow shows in the winter and later showcases its Spring Shanley show. The board’s mainstage productions are free for audiences.

Arts Alliance also holds other events throughout the year, including ArtBox, a festival held in the spring featuring musicians, poets and plays that takes place in an empty shipping container on the Lakefill.

The second Mee-Ow show, entitled “Mee-Ow You See Me,” took the stage Thursday and will run through Saturday in Shanley Pavilion.

Communication junior and Finance Director Laney Yoo said during petitions for directors and producers, Arts Alliance looks for individuals who are passionate about what they want to do and have a clear vision or a variety of ideas.

Yoo joined Arts Alliance at the end of her freshman year. She said it was interesting to watch the board “relearn the rings” of an in-person show.

“I wanted to have more of a voice and a role in theatre in this campus, and so it’s been really interesting watching the board transition from being on Zoom during the pandemic to back in-person,” Yoo said.

Communication sophomore Matheus Barbee, an Arts Alliance apprentice, describes himself as a “performer first,” but said he is also interested in the business side of theatre. In his petition to join Arts Alliance, he talked about his interest in marketing and business within the theatre world. He said marketing is interesting because it identifies special aspects of a project and shares it with as many people as possible.

Barbee said he identified with Arts Alliance because of his love for musical theatre, which the group focuses on producing.

Barbee also said, as an Afro-Latino student, he is underrepresented in the theatre world. He said he was excited to be on a board that prioritizes universally reachable art, and hopes Arts Alliance can continue to fulfill its mission of creating simultaneously accessible and meaningful art.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for growth in making sure that the work that we’re putting out is boundary-pushing but still universally reachable,” Barbee said.

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