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News & Events

​​​There’s never a dull moment at The Theatre School; here are some of the highlights. Check back often to find out about upcoming events and to get the latest stories. 

10/30/20   Ricardo Gamboa Awarded the Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre

The Theatre School at DePaul University is pleased to announce that Ricardo Gamboa has been
Ricardo Gambo Awarded the 2020 Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre
Ricardo Gamboa
awarded the 2020 Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre. Gamboa is a Chicago native who has dedicated their career to devising and writing plays that focus on the experiences of the city's working-class communities and youth of color. They are a member of Free Street Theater, an alumnus of the Goodman Theatre Playwrights Unit, a resident playwright with Chicago Dramatists, and the founding adult creative partner of the politically charged ensemble The Young Fugitives. Gamboa is the recipient of a Joyce Award and an International Connections Award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre was established at The Theatre School to honor the memory of the Rev. Donald Cunningham, a Chicago priest, playwright, and lover of theatre. The Cunningham Commission was established by an endowment gift from the Cunningham family and is presented annually. Playwrights from the Chicagoland area and alumni of The Theatre School are eligible to apply each year.

“The stated purpose of the commission is to encourage plays for young audiences that affirm the centrality of religion, broadly defined, and the human quest for meaning, truth, and community," Gamboa said. “So, much of what we know is that oppression works by chipping away at our spirit, our sense of possibility, and of our own potential. The systems that we live in whether it be colonialism, capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy or whatever want this, they want us to feel disoriented, insignificant and alone. For my entire career, my theatrical output has been dedicated to making theater that centers and that is created by, with, and for Chicago's communities of color. I have always viewed theater for us as theater that must be restorative and give us some of the feelings that are robbed from in our oppression: feelings of belonging, of being worthy of better, of deserving of understanding, and of being able to imagine alternative futures for ourselves," they said.

Through the Cunningham Commission, Gamboa will be writing a play that is tentatively titled The Resisters. The play will explore themes of friendship, collective power, and the potential of art to transform our circumstances. Gamboa will develop The Resisters over the next year with input from the Cunningham Commission Selection Committee which includes Theatre School faculty members Michelle Lopez-Rios, Jeff Mills, Coya Paz, and Committee Chair Phil Timberlake.

“This play will speak to the realities of our time and to the power of community and art," Timberlake said. “It will engage with issues of activism, struggle, and friendship. The purpose of the Cunningham Commission is to support encourage work for young audiences that illuminate the human quest for meaning, truth, and community. Ricardo Gamboa and The Resisters fit the bill perfectly."

The Theatre School intends to produce the plays created through this commission in its award-winning Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences series. Chicago Playworks has welcomed 1,523,850 audience members since it began in 1925.

“I grew up in Chicago," Gamboa said. “So often, I felt the theater I saw at school assemblies and field trips was not reflective of my reality. Later, as a theater artist committed to making work for young audiences and as a theater educator working with theaters across Chicago, I found this was still the reality. Chicago youth of color and their stories and lives were not reflected in theater for youth in Chicago that usually opted for productions of 'classics' or adaptations of books on the reading lists of standardized education. I wanted to propose a play that was accessible, relatable, and wholly reflective of what it means to grow up in Chicago."


9/21/20   Roger Guenveur Smith presents new work Otto Frank | 7:00 PM Central

Otto Frank Performance
Sold-out performance. 

For two years, the Franks improvised a home above the family business in Amsterdam, before their arrest, separation, and removal to Nazi death camps. Otto Frank miraculously escaped a firing squad at Auschwitz and returned to Amsterdam to learn of the murder of his wife and their two daughters. What remained was a diary, initially intended as a modest birthday gift to Anne from her father. The surviving Frank passionately pursued the publication, translation, and adaptation of Anne's journal. It is now, with the exception of the Bible, the most read non-fiction book in the world. But less known is the story of Otto.  

This event was co-sponsored by DePaul University's Theatre School, Center for Black Diaspora and Jewish Life, and was made possible by generous support from the Vincentian Endowment Fund. 

Roger Guenveur Smith headshot
Roger Guenveur Smith is an internationally acclaimed actor, writer, and director who has created a prolific body of work on stage and screen. He adapted his Obie Award-winning solo performance of A Huey P. Newton Story into a Peabody Award-winning telefilm and his Bessie Award-winning Rodney King is currently streaming on Netflix.  Also among his work for the international stage are studies of Frederick Douglass and Christopher Columbus, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley, iconoclast artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Simon Rodia, and Charles White, and baseball greats Juan Marichal and John Roseboro.
  

3/26/20   UPDATE! Deadline Extended to May 1 Submissions Now Being Accepted for Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre

The Theatre School at DePaul University is pleased to announce that submissions are now being
Student reading a script
accepted for the Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre. Playwrights from the Chicagoland area and alumni of The Theatre School are eligible to apply, and the winner will be announced in June. The deadline for submissions is May 1, 2020.

The Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre was established at The Theatre School to honor the memory of the Rev. Donald Cunningham, a Chicago priest, playwright, and lover of theatre. The Cunningham Commission was established by an endowment gift from the Cunningham family and is presented annually. The purpose of the commission is to encourage the writing of dramatic works for young audiences that affirm the centrality of religion, broadly defined, and the human quest for meaning, truth, and community. The Theatre School intends to produce the plays created through this commission in its award-winning Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences series.

 Chicago Playworks is dedicated to reflecting our audience's experience in an urban, contemporary, and multi-ethnic environment. Each season has three productions that are attended by over 30,000 young people and their families. Target audience age varies for each individual show, with a primary interest in serving grades four through seven.  

 Candidates should submit:
 A resume
  One sample of their playwriting work (no more than 20 pages). The writing sample may be from a         play of any genre for any audience.
  A brief statement about their interest in the commission.
  A paragraph-length description of a possible project.  

 The commission timeline is as follows:
 June 2020: Winner announcement and contract signing.
• December 1, 2020: First draft due (payment upon delivery).
 January 15, 2021: Notes from Theatre School committee delivered to playwright.
• April 1, 2021: Second draft due (payment upon delivery).
 May 15, 2021: Notes from Theatre School committee delivered to playwright.
 September 1, 2020: Third draft due (final payment upon delivery)

Play will then be considered for the following year's Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences series.

The fee for the Cunningham Commission is $6000, with an additional fee provided if the play is produced as part of the Chicago Playworks series. The selection committee is chaired by Phil Timberlake, and is composed of members of the Cunningham Commission advisory committee and faculty of The Theatre School. 

Please send all entries to: Cunningham Commission Selection Committee, The Theatre School at DePaul University, 2350 N. Racine Avenue, Chicago, 60614. Questions and entries can also be sent to CunninghamCommission@depaul.edu.

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