Court Theatre and the Experimental Performance Initiative at the University of Chicago Launch

“For You’s Artists & Elders: “A Bridge, A Gift” Project
with Online Event December 10″

Chicago, IL – Court Theatre, under the continuing leadership of Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, and Executive Director Angel Ysaguirre, presents a virtual presentation, Artists & Elders: A Bridge, A Gift, on December 10, 2020 at 7pm CST to mark the culmination of their collaboration with the Experimental Performance Initiative and For You. After Court Theatre’s production of The Lady from the Sea closed due to COVID-19, Court teamed up with the Experimental Performance Initiative, Lady from the Sea choreographer Erika Chong Shuch and her colleagues from For You to connect ten artists with ten elders in Chicago. Drawing on dramaturgy from director Shana Cooper’s vision for the play, these artists looked for beacons of hope in their connections with strangers. As a form of creative mutual aid, this project offered artists and elders the chance to connect while sheltering in place, create an artistic exchange in the spirit of gift-giving and inspire new forms of distant socializing.

Thinking about this project, Artistic Director Charles Newell shares, “I’m thrilled that Court’s canceled production of Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea has found new life as the inspiration behind such a dynamic partnership. Together with For You, Hyde Park Arts Center, and the Experimental Performance Initiative, Court has been able to spark meaningful artistic experiences in the lives of others.”

For You’s Erika Chong Shuch reflects, “We are all finding new ways to make art, connection, and meaning. The many complexities of 2020 have asked us to reconsider what building community looks like, to rethink impact, and to reimagine how we might move forward with renewed purpose. We’re grateful that Court and eXp have invited For You into their respective families as we all consider how our field’s future will unfold. The artists & elders that we’ve met through this collaboration have energized and delighted us and one another. We hope this is only the beginning.”

Court’s Executive Director Angel Ysaguirre adds, “As a form of creative mutual aid, Artists & Elders: A Bridge, A Gift illustrates the power all artforms have to brighten the lives of others. For artists and neighbors alike, this virtual program offered connection and hope during a difficult year for all.”

Speakers at the online event will offer insight and stories from their time collaborating on Artists & Elders. Featured speakers and topics include Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson discussing his work expanding community engagement at Court; Sarah Curran on the Experimental Performance Initiative at University of Chicago; Ryan Tacata and Rowena Richie from For You; Shana Cooper on how artists are shifting roles to meet the current moment; and several participants reflecting on their creative process.

The works created during Artists & Elders: A Bridge, A Gift can be viewed in a digital gallery at

To register for the free event on December 10 at 7pm CST, visit

Participants in Artists & Elders: A Bridge, A Gift include Sheldon D. Brown, Brenda Butler, Melissa DuPrey, Gina Freed , Benjamin Lamar Gay, Delia Gray, Karen Hirsch, Vanissa James, Mark Jeffrey, Emily Hooper Lansana, Sarah Lauzen, Efé McWorter, Michael Pogue, Kelvin Roston Jr., Darling Shear, Kelli Simpkins, Shaila Small, Christopher “Mad Dog” Thomas, Sophia Watson, and Larry Wolf.

Court Theatre is the professional theatre of the University of Chicago, dedicated to innovation, inquiry, intellectual engagement, and community service. Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to classic American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. The theatre revives lost masterpieces; illuminates familiar texts; explores the African American theatrical canon; and discovers fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences. In all of this work, we are committed to recognizing, addressing, and eradicating racism, as we strive to better serve our South Side community.

For You is a dedicated practice of performance making initiated by Erika Chong Shuch, Rowena Richie, and Ryan Tacata in 2016. For You brings strangers together for shared, intimate encounters and considers performance making as gift giving. As a response to worldwide shelter-in-place ordinances due to COVID-19, and with awareness that many elders are at risk in terms of infection and the compounding hardships of isolation, For You launched Artists & Elders, a project that brings artists and elders together for creative exchange. For more information on For You and Artists & Elders, visit:

The Experimental Performance Initiative (eXp) at the University of Chicago brings together artists and scholars from disparate disciplines to probe histories, experiment with forms, and catalyze transformative practices. eXp at UChicago supports the research, creation, and presentation of work in which exploration, experimentation and expression form part of a dynamic and unpredictable process, one that aligns with the University’s fundamental commitments to complex thought and compelling invention.

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