Hundreds of Reasons to be Thankful

This past weekend, we finished interviewing our six finalists for the Neighborhood Residency. Now we face the VERY difficult task of selecting one of these playwrights for our very first partnership. One of the prompts we gave the playwrights was a simple, but illuminating one:

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Tell us about your neighborhood...

Each playwright’s answer was personal, compelling, and reminded me of two of the reasons we started Step Up Chicago Playwrights in the first place:

1. Chicago’s neighborhoods are FULL of stories

From Rogers Park to Uptown, Back of the Yards, Logan Square, Pilsen, and beyond, we loved hearing about the streets, shops, and people that our playwrights live and work among every day. Hearing them describe their neighborhoods with complexity and compassion reminded us how much richer the story of our city is than the narrative we normally hear.

2. They’re also full of incredible playwrights.

As I’ve said before, a great playwright isn’t just a storyteller - they’re a storyseer as well. The stories we heard over the last few weekends were the stories the playwrights saw in the everyday moments and people most of us walk by without a second glance. Stories of family and culture, disappointment and hope, history and change. As I listened to the stories, I felt like I had both a fuller picture of the playwright and Chicago. I also began to think even more deeply about my own neighborhood and others I passed through.

This Thanksgiving, I’m so grateful for our city’s 200+ neighborhoods and all of the many playwrights who live in them. And I’m so excited to see what will happen when we pair one fascinating neighborhood with one of our amazing playwrights. I believe that the relationship we build will create equally unforgettable stories for everyone involved.

If you're as excited as we are to help Chicago's playwrights tell the full story of Chicago, please consider giving to Step Up. With Giving Tuesday next week and the end of the year approaching, now is the perfect time to make a tax-deductible donation to support our work. Click above to learn about all the ways you can give.

Brad Akin