About Community Created Performances

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Photo by Jaclyn Simpson

Community Created Performances are original music theater works created and performed by community groups using a core element of opera: storytelling through song. Participating groups throughout Chicago, regardless of background or experience, will create and develop these original works which will be driven by the participants and will be supported by Lyric Opera professional artists and staff.

You can get to know the 2017 CCP participants listed below, peek behind the scenes at the creative process, look back on the 2016 finalists, and stay up to date on the latest developments as you, "Watch it Unfold", with the Community Created Performances' blog

Play Video - CCP2017_BluRhythm

Blu Rhythm Collective

Blu Rhythm Collective

Blu Rhythm Collective is a group of Chicago urban artists pushing the boundaries of original live theater using a mix of artforms to focus on some of the city’s hardest-hitting topics. Its members are a direct reflection of Chicago and its various neighborhoods.

Four young dancers face an opportunity of a lifetime when a legendary choreographer returns to Chicago. But to succeed they must choose to carry their passion beyond the studio and into the streets of a city riddled with crime, violence and poverty. The Blu Rhythm ensemble finds a way forward from tragedy through artistry in song, drama and movement.

Play Video - CCP2017_KumbaLynx

Kuumba Lynx

Kuumba Lynx

Kuumba Lynx is a youth development art making organization that utilizes urban arts to cultivate strong communities built on a foundation of love. The group strives to use Hip Hop as a means to mentor, motivate, and inspire artists to produce, share, and publish meaningful works of art. 

When a family emergency calls away one of their rising stars, the Kuumba Lynx ensemble must push their talents in song, rap, dance, art and poetry to get the show back on track. We’re going behind-the-scenes a glimpse of young urban artists working together to turn political activism and creative passion into an unforgettable live theatrical experience.

Play Video - CCP2017_YOLOBoomers

YOLO Boomers

YOLO Boomers

YOLO Boomers is a group of Northcenter Chicago seniors actively engaged in different forms of creative expression including writing and improvisational acting.

We follow the YOLO Boomers through a series of vignettes – searching for love, new creative experiences and opportunities to make a difference.  Between marching in the streets and tweets, leather jackets, bike rides, selfies, and finding new community, these boomers share a secret: there’s no one way to embrace your golden years in the 21st century.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Community Created Performances?

Community Created Performances are original music theater works created and performed by community groups using the core elements of opera: storytelling through song.

Chicagoans, regardless of background or experience, were invited to submit unique, untold stories from and of their communities. Applications are reviewed by an independent, community-based panel and up to 10 applicant groups are selected to be featured in individual video profiles on the Chicago Voices website. The public then views the videos and votes for the stories found to be most compelling. 

The top three groups with the most votes create and develop their original work, driven by the participants and supported by Lyric Opera professional artists and staff. Working closely with these professionals, the groups each create and develop original scripts, songs, and production elements for the performances, and take part in the culminating final performance of these works.

What kinds of community groups are you looking for?

The Community Created Performances are driven and developed by the participating groups. Groups are existing or newly-created. “Community” for the purposes of the Chicago Voices project is meant to be an expansive and inclusive term. Any group that meets the eligibility requirements outlined below, that gathers with shared interests, experiences or goals, and that has an interest in performing could apply. Prior performance experience is not required and preference is given to amateur groups.

Additional training and support provided by Lyric Opera of Chicago is made available in some cases. If chosen through the voting process, groups will have the opportunity to tell their unique story through the style of music, movement, and visuals that best defines their community.

Are there requirements for the group and group members?

Below are some parameters for group structure:

● Groups must be based in the city of Chicago.

● Groups must be comprised of at least 8 and no more than 12 core members. Additional participants for the performance may be considered. 

● Each participating member must be at least 12 years old.

● If selected as one of the final three groups, participants must commit to the full 16 weeks of the project  beginning in June 2017.

● The group must be willing to go through the process of creating an original work and taking part in the performance of that work. Each member should be comfortable
with the artistic requirements involved in the project, including singing. No prior experience is necessary.

● This program is intended for amateur groups.

Do the groups selected as finalists have to sing?

Yes. Chicago Voices aims to celebrate Chicago vocalism and share the stories of Chicago through singing. Part of the creative process will be enabling each group to develop and sing in their own authentic voice. This does not mean that groups have to perform opera or classical vocal music, nor do groups need any prior experience or training in singing.

How do I apply?

Applications for the Chicago Voices 2017 Community Created Performances are now closed. Sign up for the Chicago Voices mailing list for the latest information on semi-finalists and public voting for the program.

How are groups selected?

After the application period has closed, an independent, community-based review panel of Chicago Public Library employees will select up to 10 semi-finalists based on the uniqueness and strength of the story,  diverse representation of Chicago, and group enthusiasm for the project. 

The semi-finalists selected will then be showcased through an online video profile. The profile will include interviews with group members sharing the story they want to tell. 

Video profiles will be posted on the website for public voting. The public will have the opportunity to view all of the semifinalists’ profiles and vote for the story that they want to see presented on the stage. The three semifinalist groups who receive the highest votes will be invited to participate in a 16-week creative development process to develop their concept into an original work.

What will the groups selected as finalists have to supply to participate?

The three groups selected as finalists will work with a team of professionals to create an original script, songs in a musical style of their choice, and a fully-staged production of their story. Each group will be assigned an animateur (facilitator), who will work closely with the group to further define their story, assist in identifying and supporting artistic resources from within the group, and facilitate group meetings and sessions. 

The three groups will work with a scriptwriter to create a narrative for their work, a songwriter/arranger to set the narrative to music, and a director who will support the creative design and staging of the final production. 

A public reading of the script will be presented in a neighborhood venue in August and a fully-staged culminating performance featuring all three groups will be presented at a major downtown venue in Fall 2017. All performances will be free and open to the public.

What are the benefits of participating in the project? Is there a winner?

The “winners” of the project are the three groups selected as the finalists during the community voting process. All three groups will receive the same benefits, including:

● Increased exposure for their community and story throughout Chicago via the Chicago Voices website, social media promotions, and performances.

● A professional creative team, a $10,000 stipend to offset costs and time required for the project, and accompanying resources provided by Lyric Opera.

● Strengthening their community through the creative process by developing a deeper understanding of the individual and collective stories within it.

● Professional training and experience in story writing, song writing and performing, supported by the creative team. 

● A fully-realized creative work that they will be able to continue using to share their stories with the greater Chicago community.

What will we have to supply if we are selected as finalists?

Lyric Unlimited will provide the majority of all resources needed to facilitate the creative process, the promotion, and the administrative support of the project. Participating groups will be responsible for providing:

● A Community Lead who will be responsible for coordinating information on behalf of the group and relaying communications between the group members and the Lyric artists and staff throughout the development process.

● Commitment from all members of the group for participation through the entire duration of the project. 

● Identification or provision of a suitable space for regular group meetings and rehearsals.