What will Chicago bring to the party?

Yesterday, the city of Chicago's bid book for the 2016 Olmpics was released. As much as I worry about the congestion, the influx of visitors, the (God help us) CTA and its capacity - all the things that would make bringing these games to Chicago in 7 years potentially tricky, I have to admit to more than a twinge of excitement at the idea. That twinge shares some its qualities with the puff of pride I feel when Chicago is referred to as President Obama's home town. His home is my home, too.

Last month I celebrated four years of being a Chicagoan. (Yes, I moved here in January. No, I don't know what I was thinking.) I claim this city as my own, and not just because of its rich history, full of fire and liquor and the legacy of making no small plans. I claim it not just because of the pizza and pad sie eiw and curry fries, the bricks and stones and streetlamps and street fairs and the reminder that the doors open on the left or the right. I can truly claim this city because of the community of theatre artists who have decided - who continue to decide every day - that this is home.

On March 27th, we have a unique opportunity to celebrate that choice, and build our global connection and sense of collaboration at the same time. Thanks to Twitter (God, I really do love Twitter....) Nick Keenan and I have hooked up with Vancouver's Rebecca Coleman and her efforts surrounding World Theatre Day. What's this World Theatre Day, you ask? I've never heard of World Theatre Day, you say? Neither had I. Luckily, Rebecca can explain it for us:

World Theatre Day takes place every year on March 27, and is the brainchild of the International Theatre Institute. It’s aim is to: “promote international exchange of knowledge and practice in theatre arts (drama, dance, music theatre) in order to consolidate peace and solidarity between peoples, to deepen mutual understanding and increase creative co-operation between all people in the theatre arts”

Nick and I were so excited by this idea, and by the buzz that's already flying across Canada, that we approached Deb Clapp and Ben Thiem at the League of Chicago Theatres. We have a vibrant theatre community, with so much going on at any given time, on any given night, including March 27, 2009 - why not show the world what we're up to? Why not use this day where artists all over the world come together to celebrate our chosen medium to show that Chicago is producing world-class work, and lots of it? We have so much food - let's take something to the party.

Little time and less (read:no) money might look like prohibtive factors to our successful participation on March 27, but if there's one thing I've learned from my family of fellow artists here, when it comes to a challenge we prove that Yes We Can. In a town where our lighting grids are often held together with paper clips and hope, our rehearsal spaces also serve as our studio apartments, and our costumes are pulled from our own closets - we're not going to let something like a lack of funding keep us from getting our voices in the mix.

Simplicity will be key.

Using what we already have in place will be essential. When the wheel is already strong and rolling along nicely, why reinvent it? If you want folks to see your wheel, just find better ways to bring that wheel to their attention.

Coming together, spending a day and a night with one another, and exploring ways of meeting like-minded friends (and future collaborators?) around the world will be - a blast.

We have an exploratory meeting set for Friday, February 20th from 4:30 to 6 PM at the League of Chicago Theatre offices. Along with simplicity and creativity, a united front will be essential to a successful day. If you're a Chicago theatre-maker and you'd like to be part of this meeting, please RSVP to Ben. You can DM him on the Twitter, or e-mail him at Ben@chicagoplays.com.

There's a special World Theatre Day blog - throw that in your Google Reader and love it.

We don't have to wait until 2016 to show the world the good thing we've got going. We can't wait until then. Not when an opportunity like this comes along. Let's put our broad shoulders into it and show this world what Sweet Home Chicago has on the stove.

EDIT: Step 2 - How? Nick Keenan starts the brainstorming ball rolling. Check it out, and please add to voice to the mix through comment here and at Theater for the Future.


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