Encounter is an annual a performance series curated around diversity, equity and inclusion. The series is comprised of mid-length works (20 minutes or longer) of theater, music, video, dance, and performance.
Encounter is curated through a combination of open and invited submissions from emerging and established artists throughout the city. Every performance is followed by a Crucial Conversation where the audience is welcomed to share their thoughts and lived experiences as they connect with the work. The series serves to engage the Chicago community in discussion on issues of equity and inclusion, incite knowledge and grow empathy that leads to action and lasting change.
Encounter is performed at Kennedy-King College's Performing Arts Center at 740 W 63rd St in Englewood as part of Collaboraction's residency at KKC. The theatre is close to public transit and has plentiful free street parking and free lot parking nearby.
Content suggestion is PG-13.
The Line Up
Inspire: Breathe Life
Written by Sir Taylor
Directed by Anthony Moseley
Sir Taylor shares his life story from growing up in Cabrini-Green, being a founding member of the Jesse White Tumblers, going to Africa and dedicating his life to leave a positive impact on his community and setting the example for Chicago youth as community activist, mentor and leader of The Example Setters.
Lady Sol’s Dance Diary, Vol. 1
Written and performed by Leida "Lady Sol" Garcia
Directed by Sandra Delgado
Featuring DJ Phreaky Bionick and Sydney Jackson
Lady Sol’s Dance Diary Vol. 1 welcomes audiences into the personal and professional life of Leida Garcia, a bonafide Chicago street dance professional whose life takes a dark detour at the height of a successful tour in South Africa and after a music video appearance with 90s Hip Hop legends, The Fugees.
Englewood: A Love Story
Devised and directed by Reginald Edmund
A devised love letter to the past, present and future of Englewood made from a compelling blend of history and true stories from actual residents in the community.
This production is commissioned by a 2019 Illinois Humanities Vision, Action, and Multiplier Grant.
Lift Every Voice
Written by G. Riley Mills and Willie Round
Directed by Rory Jobst
When a racist Snapchat makes its way around a high school its students are left to grapple with their own history, biases and privilege in order to maintain their relationships.
Written by Miranda Gonzalez
Directed by Juan Castenada
After the birth of their child, two Chicago police officers and partners, Josh and Lala, are the victims of racial harassment at the hands of their fellow officers.
Written by Antwon Funches
Directed by Tatyana Chante
Set in the 19th century American South, this one act play follows the climactic escape of an enslaved mother and daughter, exploring what happens when we accept love and empathy, and what happens when we reject it.
Meet the Artists of Encounter
Leida “Lady Sol” Garcia
Playwright of & Performer in Lady Sol's Dance Diary, Vol.1
Leida "Lady Sol" Garcia is a proud Mexican-American street dance professional, mother, wife and Chicago native who is globally recognized as a teaching artist, creative director, and manager. She is a 2018 3Arts Award winner and a co-founding member of Chicago's premiere Hip-Hip arts education org., Kuumba Lynx. Lady Sol is responsible for bringing Chicago's footwork/juke dance culture to the mainstream through her former dance ensemble, FootworKINGz who toured globally with Madonna. She is a self-proclaimed “Professor of Practice” who has taught Afro-Carib dance fusion workshops at Harvard U, Stanford U, and U of C. Her dance works have graced platforms with music giants Damian Marley, Wyclef Jean, Busta Rhymes, Cham, and Elephant Man. Her newest developing work, "Lady Sol's Dance Diary” is a #HipHopTheaterMemoir solo show that explores sexual trauma, music industry politics, and cross-cultural identity. Bob Marley ah say, "Those who feel it, know it!"
Facebook: Lady Sol’s Dance Diary
Cari Bermudez aka Cari da RAGE
Dancer in Lady Sol's Dance Diary, Vol.1
Graffiti Rhythms was founded in 2010 by Chicago native Cari da RAGE Bermudez. Ms. Cari has been teaching Dance & Fitness for over 16 yrs with the intention to make classes fun and attainable for everyone. She specializes in Hip Hop; but has training in many traditional dance techniques including: Ballet, Contemporary, Latin, West African and House. Graffiti Rhythms offers Professional Choreography for Special Events such as: Festivals, Local Artists, Quinceañeras, Weddings, Concerts & more. She is currently the Dance Director at Alchemy/Chicago Gallery in Jefferson Park. Check out her classes for all ages & other Resident Artists in the Gallery’s creative space!
IG: @graffitirhythmsrage, @graffitirhythmsdance, and @alchemychicago
Dancer in Lady Sol's Dance Diary, Vol.1
Sydney Jackson is a junior at the University of Chicago. A dancer her entire life, she has been training under Lady Sol for over seven years now. Sydney grew up a competition dancer, and spent her childhood training in ballet, jazz, tap, and contemporary dance. From facilitating workshops to dancing at festivals, and filming choreography videos, the two have created unforgettable dance memories. In her academics, Sydney has combined her love for dancehall dance and music with an interest in anthropological research to study movers, like Lady Sol herself. She is very excited to take part in this production.
Playwright of SANKOFA
Antwon Funches is a Black, Chicago-based actor, playwright, and director whose cut-throat art promotes the liberation of marginalized groups through joy, dialogue, and humanism. Funches now joins the Collaboraction 2020 Encounter Play Festival with SANKOFA: a short 19th century stage play following the climactic escape of an enslaved mother and daughter. Funches is set to graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago Spring 2020 with a B.A.in Theatre and Performance.
Performs as "Grant" in SANKOFA
Andrew Ritter is extremely grateful and thrilled to be a part of Encounter 2020! He has been an actor, improviser, director, producer, teacher, writer in Chicago for the past 20 years and is currently the producer, director and a performer in the improvised show for children: The Greatest Story Never Told. Some of his favorite past performances include An Average Man at American Blues Theater - RIPPED!, Jewsical The Musical with The Second City Theatricals, The *Best Church Of God, and Vampire Lesbians of Sodom directed by Alexandra Billings. On screen he has made appearances on Chicago Fire, Proven Innocent and Utopia. He loves performing musical improv comedy with both Mansical and The Improvised Sondheim Project and teaching theater and improvisation at The Second City and Dream Big.
Performs as "Benee" in SANKOFA
Anah Ambuchi is 12 year old Kenyan-American actress, writer, producer, director, and dancer. At 5 years old, Anah started training at the Kenwood School of Ballet and later landed theatre roles at the Harris Theatre, Lookingglass, Gorilla Tango, and Collaboraction. Anah also works in television, including the role of Stacey Smith on The CHI season two.
Anah has written, produced, and directed a short film based on her bullying experience titled Made In His Image which was accepted into 12 national film festivals and made its international debut during the Cannes Film Festival -Diversity in Cannes Shortfilm Showcase.
Anah is truly honored and humbled for every opportunity that she is given.
Performs as "James" in SANKOFA
Felix Abidor is an actor, clown, and playwright. Trained at the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theater, Felix has performed across the West and Southwest. Favorite credits include Romeo and Juliet (Southwest Shakespeare Company), PEMDAS (Bower Theater Ensemble), and Equus (Freeks Theater). When not acting, Felix spends time with his houseplants, many of whom are not yet dead.
Willie "Prince Roc" Round
Co-Playwright of Lift Every Voice
Willie “Prince Roc” Round is a songwriter, playwright, videographer, mentor and hip-hop artist hailing from the West Side of Chicago who has performed across the country and opened for Grammy Award-winning artist Lil Wayne as well as Gucci Mane. He does extensive outreach in the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago (also known as “The Holy City”) and has mentored inner city youth as part of the College Mentoring Experience as well as his own youth movement called MUD LIFE (Motivating the Urban to be Determined). He holds a BA in Communications Radio and Television Broadcasting from Central State University. His play his play Broke Down Drone (also co-written with G. Riley Mills) played during the 2019 Peacebook.
G. Riley Mills
Co-Playwright of Lift Every Voice
G. Riley Mills began writing for the professional theatre at age 17 and has twice won the Jeff Award for Best New Work. His play, The Hundred Dresses,was produced off-Broadway at The Atlantic Theatre Company in New York City. His plays have been seen on stages such as Mixed Blood Theatre, Prop Thtr, Timeline Theatre, The Apollo Theatre, Mary-Arrchie Theatre, Midnight Circus, Royal George Theatre and Orlando Repertory Theatre, among others. His play Toast was produced in the very first Sketchbook and his play Broke Down Drone (also co-written with Willie Round) played during the 2019 Peacebook.
Director of Lift Every Voice
Rory is very excited to be working with the good people at Collaboraction, having once appeared in the old school Sketchbook. He is a former company member and Film Producer at the late Oracle Productions and a regular contributor at Prop Thtr. Favorite projects include THIS HOUSE BELIEVES which toured the Austin and Washington Park neighborhoods and his original solo show THE BELLE OF AUSTIN, where he portrayed the late, great Daniel Johnston. Rory is also on the English faculty of Truman College and North Park. He would love to put on a show in an old abandoned movie theater one day.
Performs as "Tom Banks" in Lift Every Voice
Jack is an actor and musician from Los Angeles, CA. Theatre School credits include Vronsky in Anna Karenina, Music/Various roles in A Dybbuk, Music/Narrator in The Cat in the Hat, Jan in Native Son, Nikos in Big Love, Lawrence Shannon in Night of the Iguana, CB in Dog Sees God, and Various Roles in Afterburn (A devised piece by Althos Low). Jack has spent three Summers with the Independent Shakespeare Co. LA, playing music and portraying roles, including Demetrius in Titus Andronicus and Ratclif in Richard III. This is Jack’s professional Chicago debut and he adores each and every one of you for showing your support.
Gavin D. Pak
Performs as "Ricky Tang" in Lift Every Voice
Gavin D. Pak is an actor, stage manager, and writer in the Chicago area. Gavin’s play ‘Fresh Out the Closet’ was awarded the Olga and Paul Menn Foundation Prize and received a reading at the Goodman Theatre. Their play ‘prefer not to answer, or other’ was developed in The New Colony’s Writers’ Room and received a reading from both The New Colony and The Syndicate’s First Read series. Favorite credits: Sweeney Todd, Caiaphas (Jesus Christ Superstar), Christmas Eve (Avenue Q), Beaujo (Geography of a Horse Dreamer). University of Chicago Theater and Performance Studies.
Robert Hunter Bry
Performs as "James Wilson" in Lift Every Voice
Robert Hunter Bry is excited to be making his debut with Collaboraction Theatre!! Most recently he was seen as Edgar in Redtwist Theatre's production of King Lear, directed by Steve Scott. Previous theatre credits include The Firestorm (First Folio), Twelfth Night (Midsommer Flight), Candida (ShawChicago), Love's Labours Lost, Julius Caesar (Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre), Hamlet, Twelfth Night, and Peter and the Starcatcher (Illinois Shakespeare Festival) Robert is a proud graduate of Illinois State University's undergraduate acting program, where he appeared in numerous productions. He would like to thank Collaboraction, Rory Jobst, Gary Mills, and Willie Round, as well as his wonderful friends and family for their unwavering support!
Performs as "Amy Langford" in Lift Every Voice
Meredith Rupp is thrilled to be making her professional acting debut in Chicago as Amy in Life Every Voice. Her previous Chicago credits include an internship with Oak Park Festival Theatre where she understudied for Elizabeth Rex and Much Ado About Nothing. Meredith is a recent graduate of Kenyon College with a degree in Drama with a focus in acting. Some of her credits from college include her senior thesis, Slowgirl (Becky), Crimes of the Heart (Chick), and a staged reading of I’m Revolting (Lucinda) by Gracie Gardner.
Cayla Leigh Jones
Performs as "Grace Garrett" in Lift Every Voice
Cayla Jones is excited to be working in her role as Grace in Collaborations. Theater for Social change is something that is near to Cayla’s heart. Cayla is a recent graduate from Illinois State University with a degree in Acting and minor in Women & Gender Studies. She currently resides in Chicago. Since graduating, Cayla has had her hand in some Chicago productions and acting jobs such as an Actor/Educator at Catharsis Productions and A role at the Black Ensemble Theater. She has also acted in a multitude of diverse productions ranging from “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884–1915” to “She Kills Monsters” during her time at Illinois State. Through work at Illinois State University, the Goodman Theater, Black Ensemble Theater and multiple other institutions, has really shown her love for the arts and acting.
Alexa Maria Huerta
Performs as "Estrella 'Star' Ruiz" in Lift Every Voice
Alexa Maria Huerta is a Chicago-based actress with a dream of evoking social change through her work. Originally from a small town in Central Illinois, Alexa found her love for acting in a school production of "Annie" at the age of 10. After high school, she decided to pursue her career full time and made the move to Chicago while also actively working in the Atlanta market. Alexa’s credits include roles on Shameless, the Chi and the Resident, along with several commercials. This is her first show with Collaboraction, and she is beyond excited to join the cast of “Lift Every Voice.”
Aside from her work in the arts, Alexa is pursuing a career in humanitarianism, specifically focusing on a food delivery program to help tackle the international hunger crisis.
Playwright of F.O.P.
Miranda Gonzalez is currently the Artistic Director at UrbanTheater Company (UTC) in Humboldt park. She was a founding ensemble member of Chicago’s All Latina Theater company Teatro Luna and has devised and developed plays since 2000. She is a recipient of the International Centre for Women Playwrights 50/50 Award, as well as a 3Arts and ALTA nominee. Her most recent play “Back In The Day” an 80’s House Music Dancesical, World Premiered for the Destinos Festival at UTC fall of 2019. Previous directing and script development credits include: Ashes of Light by Marco Antonio Rodriguez, La Gringa by Carmen Rivera, Of Princes and Princessas by Paola Izquierdo at the 2010 Goodman Latino Theatre Festival, Lullaby by Diane Herrera, Crossed, GL 2010, The North/South Plays a workshop at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs; Crime Scene with Collaboraction; and Melissa DuPrey’s Sushi-Frito at Free Street Theater.
Director of F.O.P.
Juan is thrilled to be working with Collaboraction again, and for Encounter for the first time. Juan is a Chicago Native and has been doing theatre in the city for over a decade. Other companies Juan has worked with include Urban Theatre Company, Teatro Vista, Steep Theatre, Halcyon Theatre, Promethean Theatre, and many others. Thank you for supporting live theatre and social change in Chicago.
Assistant Director of F.O.P.
Becca Braun (she/ her) is a graduate of Miami University, where she majored in Theatre and Music and minored in Musical Theatre. She works in the Chicagoland area primarily as a director, actor, and teaching artist, having most recently brought her talents to Chicago Immersive, Strawdog Theatre Company, The Plagiarists, Access Contemporary Music, and Artistic Conspiracy. Becca believes that art is crucial to the backbone of our society, and is glad to have had the opportunity to work on F.O.P. in a time where, now more than ever, stories can have the power to incite real change. www.beccabraun.com
Performs as "Carla Coleman" in F.O.P.
Kandice Robins was born and raised in the Chicagoland area. Kandice began acting in grammar school. However, after a long hiatus, she rediscovered her love for the art after performing in a volunteer play. After moving closer to the inner city in 2015, she began avidly studying and auditioning for roles. She has been in several short films, independent films and television shows, print ads, and industrial/ commercial spots. She has studied acting and voiceover at Acting Studio Chicago and the Green Room Studio. She has also taken Improv at The Revival.
Kandice also possesses a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lewis University. In her spare time she enjoys reading, viewing plays, listening to music, and anything involving real estate.
Performs as "Joshua 'Josh' Kelly" in F.O.P.
Jimmy Mann is beyond excited to take part in F.O.P. by Miranda Gonzalez. Previous credits include: Not For Sale (Mark) with Urban Theatre Company, Beau Jest (Male understudy) with Oil Lamp Theatre, and Fuenteovejuna (Ortuño/inquisitor) with CityLit Theatre. Jimmy would like to thank his family and friends for their support, Juan for this awesome opportunity, and the rest of the F.O.P. ensemble for being fun folks to explore this wonderful script with. Enjoy the show!
Performs as "Eulalia 'Lala' Garza" in F.O.P.
Jocelyn Zamudio (F.O.P: Eulalia "Lala") is excited to make her Collaboraction debut. Chicago credits include: Sparks (Nomads Art Collective); the world premiere of Ike Holter's Rightlynd (Victory Gardens Theater, u/s); The Living Newspaper Festival (Jackalope Theatre). TV credits: The Chi. Jocelyn is a graduate of UIC’s School of Theatre and Music. She is represented by Grossman & Jack Talent. Endless thanks to my friends and family for their unwavering support. @jocelynztv
Performs as "Ralphie 'Papo' Ramirez" in F.O.P.
Enrique is so proud to be making his debut with Collaboraction in this piece, with this cast, this Director & especially this festival! Thanks to Miranda Gonzalez for this awesome script. Enrique has previously been on stage with Teatro Vista (Romeo & Juliet), Adventure Stage Chicago (La Offrenda) & Aguijon Theatre (No Se Vende). He is a proud graduate of the Black Box ACADEMY class of 2018. Audience: I love you. Family: thanks for the continued support (also I love you too).
Deviser & Director of Englewood: A Love Story
Reginald Edmund is the Founder and Managing Curating Producer for Black Lives Black Words International Project. Inspired by #blacklivesmatter, this project gives voice to some of the most contemporary political black writers from both the US, Canada, and the UK. He is a Resident Playwright at Tamasha Theatre in London, England, Alumni Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists Theatre, Artistic Associate at Pegasus Theatre-Chicago, and Artistic Patriot at Merrimack Repertory Theatre. His play Southbridge was runner up for the Kennedy Center’s Lorraine Hansberry and Rosa Parks National Playwriting Awards, and most recently named winner of the Southern Playwrights’ Competition, the Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best New Play, and the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award. His nine play series titled ‘The City of the Bayou Collection’ were developed at esteemed theaters including Pegasus Theatre-Chicago, Deluxe Theatre, Actors Theatre of Charlotte, Bush Theatre (UK), Boston Court @ Theatre, the Landing Theatre, the Playwrights’ Center, and The National Theatre (UK). Reginald Edmund received his BFA in Theatre-Performance from Texas Southern University and his MFA in Playwriting from Ohio University.
Performer in Englewood: A Love Story
Clemente Edwards is a stage actor who has performed before local audiences in coffee shops, retirements homes, churches and community centers in Chicago for almost two years. As a member of the ensemble for The Acting Workshop, he has been featured in “From Film to Stage,” bringing classic movie scenes to life on stage and portraying a diverse range of characters. While working with multiple producers and directors on short plays, he continues to learn different methods of the art of acting. Englewood: A Love Story is Clemente’s first stage play with Collaboraction. Clemente is also currently working with Third Dimension Performance Group as stage crew and an understudy for its latest musical 1619 “The Journey of a People.” As a husband and a father of five, he enjoys his family, sporting activities, and physical fitness. He is most grateful to his friends and family for their love support.
Performer in Englewood: A Love Story
Shelia-Marie Robinson is so grateful to be working with Collaboraction Theatre again. Previously she performed in productions Missing, and #Who's Next the Musical.
She is graduate from Roosevelt University and has studied with Piven Theatre Workshop and Ms. Uta Hagen. She loves writing, teaching theater and working/mentoring in foster care.
A special thank you to all in The ACTING Workshop! FAMILY, and wonderful people at Collaboraction. Blessings!
Performer in Englewood: A Love Story
A computer engineering student turned actress, Khalilah Manson returns to her roots of dabbling in the arts - with her theatre debut in Encounter! She has trained at the Acting Workshop (lead by ensemble mate S. Robinson, student of Uta Hagen) and is a writer and director of her own short play, Time Machine.
When introduced to a role in Englewood: A Love Story, she described the experience as “the perfect tribute to the South Side of Chicago and the perfect view of Black Identity as a whole.” She sees theatre as another challenge added to her constant commitment to learning and thus sees learning as the ultimate expansion of self. Excited to offer what she feels will be a lasting performance, Khalilah applauds Collaboraction for giving her and the community a way to peek into Chicago’s soul.
Musa J. Killins
Performer in Englewood: A Love Story
Musa J. Killins who plays the role as The Historian, has acted in previous roles in “Film to Play” productions from the Acting Workshop, including Fences, A League of Their Own, 12 Angry Men, 1408, and more with instructions from Ms. Shelia Robinson. Growing up and living in the Englewood community for most of his life, Musa has become passionate about this production as it relates closely to him. With a technical background as an IT Technician at a consulting firm, he hopes to be able to transition his skills and perceptions to the arts in order to learn and develop more as an actor. Being relatively new to the world of staged performance, Musa is extremely grateful for the opportunity to being a part of the Collaboraction Theatre Company and hopes to bring a different perspective to the production. He wishes to direct for theatre and film productions in the future.
E'a the Wholistic Artist
Performer in Englewood: A Love Story
E'a the Wholistic Artist is a resident of Englewood and business owner of SPACE Englewood providing everyday wellness/ mindfulness for everyday people. Guiding the residence of Englewood to a life harmonious Mentally, Emotionally, Physically & Spiritually. Providing Expressive Art Therapy, Massage therapy, Yoga & Sound Journeys, Lecture Demonstration, Motivational Speaking, Dance Instruction, Drum/ Peace Circle Facilitation, Team Building and so much more. Also Executive director of TALK Southland a Theater & Arts Leadership Development NFP based in Englewood to lend a voice to all diverse populations to tell their own stories and learn to build & sustain community.
of the past