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Art imitating life: ‘Crime Scene’ to be staged at Chicago parks this summer

Anthony Moseley center discusses play with colleagues FlIrArts Building Chicago Ill. Saturday May 11 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

Anthony Moseley, center, discusses the play with colleagues at the Flat Iron Arts Building in Chicago, Ill., on Saturday, May 11, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 4, 2013 6:02AM

When Collaboraction Theatre Company takes the stage to perform its play “Crime Scene: Let Hope Rise” in city parks this summer, performers be telling a story that many of the people watching already know.

Collaboraction and the Chicago Park District will put on the play, which explores the city’s history and prevalence of gun violence, in four South and West Side parks between July and August. LeClaire-Hearst, Sherman, Hamilton and Austin Town Hall parks were chosen in large part because of nearby shootings. The parks also had the space to put on such a production.

“Let Hope Rise” is an update to the original play, “Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology” shown at Collaboraction’s Wicker Park headquarters through early March. Writer and director Anthony Moseley said the new version of the play is not only meant to educate those who don’t know much about what is going on but to show people dealing with violence that someone cares about their story.

“At its best, it’s really a catalyst for a conversation that we as a city need to have,” he said.

With $28,000 from the park district budget, Collaboraction plans to hold barbeques, dance contests and a writing workshop at each park before the show to help kids express themselves and see alternatives beyond the neighborhoods they’ve grown up in.

Lisandra Tena, 26, a writer and ensemble member in the play whose own experiences with violence found their outlet in theater, said “Crime Scene” offers a chance for healing to these neighborhoods.

“I was surrounded by a lot of violence growing up. One time I was in a shootout, I had to crawl out of the scene, thank God I wasn’t shot,” she said, recalling her teen years in New Mexico. ”

Art mirroring life can be an outlet, she said.

“I think theater can really… help you deal with it better,” Tena said. “I’ve had students come up to me and instead of lashing out and being angry all the time, they write.”

In a recent interview, Moseley said he and his team of writers planned to conduct interviews in the communities near the parks. The goal is to incorporate between 10 and 40 people from the neighborhoods in each show, either by writing out their stories, actually performing in the show, or participating in a panel discussion. “We want the community to hear themselves and see themselves on stage,” Moseley said. “Your life can be more than the four walls that are surrounding you.”

For tickets, which are free, and other informationemail

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