NON:op's immersive platform for virtual performance and participation
volume 2:4

Please Join Us
as we investigate alternative futures
through music, poetry, performance, and observation

Welcome to the August-September 2021 issue of NON:onLINE!
table of contents
On the Cusp
by William Brooks
. . . but of what? “The New Normal,” apparently—or so pundits and politicos would have you believe. But what is the “new” normal? Doesn’t something normal have to have existed, have been created, have happened before? (Before what? Well, before “the cusp,” at least.) It’s normal for me to brush my teeth—meaning that I’ve done that repeatedly before and now I notice it if I don’t. It’s normal for me to have a second Manhattan . . . ditto, except I notice it more than I notice if I haven’t brushed my teeth. So what’s “new” about being “normal”? Something is amuck here.
Maybe what is meant is that we’re on the cusp of the New Abnormal, but we are encouraged to hope that the abnormal will seem normal after a while. Reasonable enough—but if the abnormal becomes, sooner or later, the normal, what becomes of the abnormal? Don’t we need an abnormal to set boundaries around the normal? Don’t we need an outside before we can talk about inside? Don’t we need others before we can understand us?

Imagine that, somehow, we don’t. Imagine that we can understand ourselves without having to create an “other.” Imagine that normality is so inclusive that there’s nothing left to be “abnormal.” Imagine that the new embraces the familiar, that the stale becomes fresh, that the unimaginable can be imagined.
If that is where we’re headed, we’re on the cusp indeed—the cusp to end all cusps, but not to end revelation or aspiration or beauty. And then follows a simple question: can art help us? Art . . . well . . . what is “Art”? Susan Taggart once said that “Art is short for Arthur”—but that’s not enough. Can art and Art and Arthur and all the rest (of us, of them): can they (can we), together, help us? To whom—to what—else can we possibly turn? What else can propel us toward a new non-normal—not ab, just non—that grants us freedom from restoration, from recapitulation, while containing within itself all of our individual and collective histories?
On the cusp. NON:op. NON:normal. NON so fair in Flora’s treasure . . .

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To find out more about our program initiatives and how to participate,
please visit our website.
To make a donation to NON:op Open Opera Works,
please visit the SUPPORT page on our website.


a hybrid in-person, live-stream event exploring "otherness" and power
September 24-25, 2021, 8pm • SITE/less, 1250 Augusta Blvd
Purchase In-Person or Live-Stream Tickets: FRIDAYSATURDAY
Historically, Western culture has identified persons who are not members of the privileged class as “others” or “outsiders” and seeks to conceal their existence by casting men to play women’s parts, whites to perform in blackface, redface, and yellowface, and non-disabled actors to portray disabled characters. Where are the boundaries between sound, speech, act, silence, metaphor, and the real? Who determines who is "in", who is "out," and who is "other"?
On the Cusp investigates these and other boundaries. Poised between theatre, music, and movement; between story, song, and act; between mundane, alien, and ecstatic, the four works that are On the Cusp open onto dark worlds of difference and reveal who is “outside” and “in,” where power and agency lie, and how art can further resistance.
a ladder beckons . . . a narrative fractures . . . a voice is silenced
Performed by artists with and without disabilities and part of its thematic exploration of the junction of “Otherness” and Power, On the Cusp features Playing God, a new work by Enama based on the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, with additional classic works of the past century by Sam Shepard, Samuel Beckett, and Tristan Tzara.
NON:op seeks to foster community, collective responsibility, and mutual respect and well-being; to this end, it is offering performers and attendees two options to choose between. Individuals may gather in person, in which case they must comply with Covid-19 protocols, or attend via live streaming.
Performances are Friday and Saturday, September 24 and 25, at 8pm, and take place at SITE/less, 1250 W Augusta Blvd, Chicago, Illinois. General admission is $20 to attend in person and $10 to access the live streamed performance. Tickets can be purchased online through Ticketleap. For more information visit our website or call 773-418-0119.
Ear Taxi's 2021 theme, HEAR CHICAGO, is a call to engage with the vast multiplicity of styles and traditions that constitutes Chicago’s expansive musical identity in the 21st century. It expresses our firm belief in the vitality of Chicago’s musicians of color, and especially the contributions of Black musicians, as a significant part of the city’s complex history. As our society takes steps to heal from the multiple tragedies it is currently experiencing, as well as its centuries-long legacy of injustice, inequity, colonialism, and violence, it is most importantly an invitation to challenge, collaborate, and change together as artists and listeners. We remain committed to doing the steadfast work necessary to progress towards a just society.

[ INTERACT ] Aural Neighborhoods partnership with OHC and MSAE

Aural Neighborhoods: Listening to Neighborhood Chicago
Self-Guided Soundwalks, October 1–31, 2021
Neighborhood Engagements, October 16-17, 2021
The economic disparities between different Chicago neighborhoods have been clearly identified and publicly displayed in community activist and photographer Tonika Johnson’s Folded Map Project. But are these equally perceivable in the world of sound? What are the sonic characteristics of different neighborhoods? How are they the same, how do they differ, and how can these questions help us understand matters of difference, agency, and power?
NON:op Open Opera Works and Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology present a second season of Aural Neighborhoods—two soundwalks that reveal the aural characteristics of diverse Chicago neighborhoods. This year we encounter Logan Square and Back of the Yards, disposed on the two sides of the south/divide that bisects Chicago. Like last year, from each neighborhood will be drawn a sound trail—a complete audio recording, with sonic points of interest clearly identified on a map. Each point of interest will include one or more photos, a description, and a brief audio sample.
Created by teaching artists Allen Moore and Paige Alice Naylor and presented by means of an app—OHC2021—Aural Neighborhoods will lead the user through clearly marked sound trails, information, and brief recordings to learn more about the sonic features unique to each neighborhood. Additional content, including information on our teaching artists, will be available on our website. Audiences may interact on site or virtually with one or both sound trails, and they may submit their own recordings, photos, and written responses to be included in our Aural Neighborhoods blog.
In addition, interested persons can experience the neighborhoods directly in Aural Architecture: Listening is the Other Half of How We Know. Site-specific interventions—relevant to a site’s architecture, history, purpose and acoustic properties—will occur at sonically and architecturally significant sites in both neighborhoods: Logan Square and Back of the Yards. Teaching artists will guide audience members, supplementing their aural experience and architectural encounters by exploring how architects design sound into our built environment. Aural Architecture complements the Aural Neighborhoods soundwalks; it invites participants to engage architectural spaces to feel and enjoy their full social, musical, spatial, and symbolic implications.
For more information visit Aural Neighborhoods on our webiste.

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[ REPORT ] Viral Silence: community portraits in response to Covid-19

Community Portraits in Response to COVID-19

There was something transformational about the time. When I couldn’t do anything else but sit inside. I learned not only that I am capable of being still, but that I am capable of immense creativity of stepping into the person that I am. I wrote, I transformed, I emerged totally at peace with myself. I guess this is what it’s like to face your mortality.
R.A. Frumpkin, Carbondale, Illinois

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Well it makes you more considerate about things.
It makes you value the family more.
It makes you more united when you go through these things.
It makes you appreciate what you have.
Azalea Amezquita, migrant farm worker
(Spanish translation by Martha P. Orsonio)

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The Writers of Oya developed wonderful insight and respect for both artists and activists within the CU Community. They gained a great deal of confidence by conducting the interviews and recognized that activism stems from a deep love for one's community.
Ashanti Files and The Writers of Oya, Urbana, Illinois

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Viral Silence: Community Portraits in Response to Covid-19  was a statewide collaborative community commissioning and virtual touring program that captured local experiences and responses to Covid-19. Three commissioned Illinois artists/teams collected materials within their community—including recorded and live sound, poetry, and interviews—to create original audio/performance works that were presented within the communities and live-streamed across the state. The project’s participatory processes and resulting portraits will help to heal and bind communities around memory, loss, and rediscovery.
The following indoor and outdoor events took place in three Illinois communities. Click on the links to view the streamed program.

Adaptive Response – June 12, 2021, 7pm followed by a reception 
Carbondale Community Arts, 304 W Walnut St, Carbondale, IL 62901

Ground/Work – June 19, 2021, 4pm (DIY Sound Workshop 2:30pm) 
Club 21 Community Garden, 90th and Loomis, Chicago, IL 60620

Champaign County, March 2020 and Counting – June 30, 2021, 7–10pm
Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, 202 S Broadway Ave, Urbana, IL 61801

Viral Silence: Conversations with Three Illinois Communities – July 7, 7–8:30pm
Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, 202 S Broadway Ave, Urbana, IL 61801

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Viral Silence was supported by

[ PARTICIPATE ] THEATRE Y, The Emerald Camino

The Emerald CAMINO PROJECT is a game of communion—a 12 day pilgrimage along Chicago's Emerald Necklace (Logan Square, Humboldt Park, East Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Little Village, Back of the Yards, Englewood, Washington Park, Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Woodlawn and Jackson Park.) Each walk is a 6-hour guided conversation with a stranger while walking side by side through a Chicago neighborhood... with spectacle from time to time... ending with a meal.
Because we need each other.
If you want to join us through any of these neighborhood walks, sign up here!
(Come as often as you wish and pay what you can or nothing at all!).
For more information and to register visit Theatre Y
Thank You to Our Funders
Robert H. and Terri L. Cohn Family Foundation
For the second year in a row, NON:op Open Opera Works has received significant support from the Robert H. and Terri L. Cohn Family Foundation. We thank them for their generous donation during these difficult times. Because of funders like the Cohn Family Foundation, NON:op can continue to produce engaging, participatory, online experiences that expand the meaning of arts and humanities and provide opportunities for all persons to participate in the arts.
Illinois Arts Council Agency
A big thank you to the Illinois Arts Council Agency for their support of our Viral Silence: Community Portraits in Response to Covid-19 project with an Arts Tour project support grant. Arts Tour funding has paid three artists/teams to create and present work in partnership with local communities in Auburn Gresham, Urbana, and Carbondale Illinois. The in person and virtual tour was presented in June.

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NON:op is seeking volunteers, interns, participants, assistants, artists, and all who have creative ideas and who would like to work with NON:op to implement a shared vision. Please contact Christophe non [at] nonopera [dot] org if you would like to find out more and join us as we create an alternative future.

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SUPPORT NON:op by purchasing HPSCHD@50 merch!
Donate to NON:op
Also available are Musicircus T-Shirts, John Cage CDs, HPSCHD@50 buttons, and souvenir programs.
Click here to order and support NON:op and its artists.
Thank you for taking care of each other by staying indoors and practicing social distancing.
We hope you and yours are well and staying safe as we work to create an alternative future.
Christophe, Bill, Yolanda, Theo, Saba, and all of NON:op's creatives, volunteers, and interns
NON:op is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Please consider supporting NON:op's program initiatives, creatives, and mission with a donation today.
All donations are tax deductible according to federal guidelines. Thank you.  
Copyright © 2021 NON:op Open Opera Works, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
NON:op Open Opera Works
2419 N Drake Ave, Floor 1
Chicago, IL 60647