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Welcome to the October 2023 issue of NON:onLINE!
What a Long Strange Trip It's Been
Great News Abounds!
Happy Birthday to NON:op Open Opera Works!
WOW!! It’s hard to believe that NON:op is 10 years old. That it has
been more than 10 years since I sent an email to more than 30 of my
friends and fellow artist travelers with the proposition of creating a
collective organization focused on non-linear, non-hierarchical art
forms. One in which each artist would have individual artistic agency,
AND organizational responsibility.
on the principle of John Cage’s Musicircus, “You won’t hear a thing,
you’ll hear everything!”, NON:op has always represented a kind of
“Everything at Once and All Together” (Mark Baldridge) esthetic. This
satisfies my short attention span, my desire for the dangerous, my want
to try everything, and my indecisiveness. Hell of a way to run an
What a Long Strange Trip It's Been!
first production was f(H2T): from Here to There, a little ditty that
involved fully 33 co-creators, collaborators, and performers, a
truckload of technical gear, all in a 16,000 square foot warehouse
space. Taking “non-hierarchy” to its ultimate conclusion, the production
almost fell apart during tech week when I refused to “direct” the
rehearsals. Fortunately, Kristina Isabelle stepped in and after lots of
hemming and hawing, the show went on. (Click on the image to download
the f(H2T) show poster.)
and off, I solved this issue, or rather, my issues, through judicious
delegation and control. Some would say I am too hands on, too
controlling. Others that I am naïve, unwilling to make decisions, and at
the same time forgetful… Remember the gnat? When I want something, I
have to have it, I’m a bull in a china shop, shoulders down, full steam
ahead, and rather pointy-headed. What can I say... I'm a work in
progress. (To the right, enjoying a beer after sharpening some NON
its founding, NON embraced opera as a combined work for the stage,
communicating directly with the spectator through the language of each
collaborating art form. In NON productions, more than one event—several
of the same kind, or mixed-media—happens simultaneously, distributed
throughout the space. “Each independent event competes with the other
for the audience's attention. The space is organized so that no
spectator can see everything.” (Schechner) Our intention was not to
create an “integrated work of art” in which individual contributions
“offer themselves up and are lost, but so that together with the drama
they may further the common task in their different ways.” (Brecht) [Old
and dead white guys, but they had some interesting things to say about
NON:op is an idea of a way to be in the world.
the summer of 2020, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and with
Covid raging, NON:op took stock of what we had done and where we were
going. How could we contribute in a meaningful way to make lives better?
We examined our own privilege and refocused our mission and vision
around facilitating radical access, experimentation, and non-hierarchy
across communities, facilitating projects that deployed innovative
artistic platforms while working collectively towards a more just
society. (For example, click HERE, or the image, to find out more about NON:op’s SAY THEIR NAMES program.)
this 10th anniversary, I promised I wouldn’t write a manifesto… Nobody
needs another NON manifesto!!! NON-sense is NO sense, and that may be
the best sense of all. What kind of sense are we to make of the
barbarism of indiscriminate killings, mass shootings, dictator coddling,
alternate reality meanness, dividing and hating, ignorance is
bliss-ness, thoughts and prayers, and an end-justifies-the-means-ness of
has always been more than an arts organization, it is an idea of a way
to be. I am thankful to everyone who has come along on this
journey—performers, collaborators, partners, venues, donors, and
participants like YOU! I am proud of everything that we have
accomplished over the past ten years, and I look forward together to the
[ SAVE THE DATE ] From There to HERE: 10th Anniversary FEED Salon
NOVEMBER 25, 2023
Tired of Turkey?
Fed Up with Football?
Out of Leftovers?
Too Soon to Shop?
Join friends new and old as we celebrate our 10th anniversary of programing
with an evening of community, music, dance, spoken word, food, and drinks!
November 25, 2023 • 6pm
First Presbyterian Church of Chicago
6400 S Kimbark Ave, Chicago, IL 60637
Small Plates catered by Dozzy’s Grill
(vegetarian options available,
please indicate with your registration)
Beer provided by Moor’s Brewing Co.
(non-alcoholic beverages available)
Kao Ra Zen, Ro-He, Kyle Gregory Price, The Grates & SILIS101 (not shown), DJ set by Thesselonious
Tickets are pay what you can… with a suggested donation of one hour’s wage.
Presbyterian Church is wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair accessible
restrooms will be available. Please refrain from wearing scented
products. For other accommodation requests, or if you have severe food
allergies, please contact Christophe Preissing at email@example.com
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for access questions.
[ UPDATES ] Great News Abounds
the February issue of NON:onLINE we have so much great news to share...
beginning with the addition of several new board members:
Kao Ra Zen
Kenya "Kao Ra Zen" Fulton is a spoken-word poet, rapper, multimedia
performance artist, painter, director, and curator born and raised in
Chicago. For several years, he has been performing and organizing
concerts, parties, film screenings, and art happenings throughout the
city, notably his annual HIPPY HOLY DAZE art and music holiday
Kyle Gregory Price
Kyle Gregory Price is a genre-fluid composer, percussionist and
turntablist by trade, who regularly produces work in other mediums
including stop-motion animation, jewelry making, costume design and
dance/movement. He has been a practicing artist for over twenty years.
Kyle has just started the MFA Program in Sound at the School of the Art
Institute of Chicago.
As actor, playwright, and teaching artist Arlene views her solo work as
an artistic extension of the social justice work she has been committed
to for the last 30 years. She has toured work across the US and
internationally. Arlene is recipient of Fellowship at University
Illinois Chicago Department of Disability in the Arts. She is Resident
Playwright at Chicago Dramatists where she developed and teaches the
Ja Nelle Davenport-Pleasure
Poet, recycle/up-cycle artist, fashion designer, dancer, aspiring bass
player, and Urbana Poet Laureate, Ja Nelle Davenport-Pleasure has
immersed herself in the arts for more than three decades. Ja Nelle has
engaged audiences throughout the United States and internationally and
strives to help people of all ages to express themselves creatively
through writing, spoken word, music, dance, and other art forms.
We exceeded our expectations with regard to grant writing, receiving new funding from:
of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Chicago Arts Recovery Program to
improve our digital and technical infrastructure as well as create a
- ComEd/Powering the Arts for a series of three L'sGA concerts in three Chicago neighborhoods (see more below)
Foundation Funding to support the continued development of the SAY
THEIR NAMES Project and a public launch of the updated interactive map
- New Music USA New Music INC grant to support general operating and organization development
- Illinois B2B grant to support general operations
[ IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES ] Save the date, Date, DATES!
2024 Events: L'sGA, Memoria de Memoria, SAY THEIR NAMES
Funded by a grant from Com Ed/Powering the Arts, L'sGA: Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
is a three-neighborhood tour of Chicago that features commissioned
works and performances by Ja Nelle Davenport-Pleasure, Kao Ra Zen, and
AJ McClenon, with Willie "Prince Roc" Round featured as the Politico in
Sal Martirano's 1967 anti-war composition, L'sGA. Dates are February 17
in the Logan Center Penthouse, February 24 in North Lawndale, and two
performances at a location to be announced on March 1-2.
Three Neighborhood Memorial Concerts Remembering Chicago’s 2023 Homicide Victims
In April 2024 The Adrian Dunn Singers will perform Christophe Preissing's Memoria de Memoria in a second three-neighborhood tour. Memoria de Memoria—loosely,
“Memory of the Heart”—is an hour-long meditative composition for
twelves voices, in which the names of all 2023 homicide victims will be
spoken in time—January through December—with each day represented by ten
seconds of the score. Also featured on the program are three gospel
compositions by Adrian Dunn, Praise the Lord, I Open My Mouth to the Lord, and You Promised.
These three FREE memorial concerts will take place on April 13 at First
Presbyterian Church of Chicago, April 20 at Stone Temple Baptist
Church, and April 27 at a location to be announced shortly.
SAY THEIR NAMES Public Launch!
With support from the Field Foundation, NON:op will publicly launch a new SAY THEIR NAMES
interactive map and database memorializing Black Americans killed by
law enforcement over the last 10 years. We expect the launch to take
place in May 2024.
is growing, and like many organizations coming out of the pandemic, we
are growing with projects, installations, and performances. It's quite
an exciting time for us! Are you savvy about one or more aspects of
running a non-profit? Join our board of directors. Do you have a passion
for planning engaging events and projects? Join our programming
committee. For more information, contact Christophe at non [at] nonopera
[dot] org. And to find out more about NON:op Open Opera Works and our
initiatives visit our WEBSITE.
• • •
Governing and Programming Board Positions
you believe in the work we are doing? If so, please contact non [at]
nonopera [dot] org to find out how you can support NON:op as a Board
member. NON:op is seeking creative, passionate, and inspired individuals
to join our board of directors in one of the following roles:
The programming committee meets monthly with the artistic director and
is responsible for supporting current programming and devising and
producing future programming and events.
The governing committee is responsible for finances, governance, and
legal matters in support of the organization and its programming. The
governing committee meets once per quarter and is joined by members of
the programming committee.
Thank You to Our Funders
In addition to the new grants listed above, we would like to thank the following funders for their supoport:
MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
you to our newest funder, The Drihaus Foundation. NON:op Open Opera
Works is honored to receive their generous support of our programs and
Robert H. and Terri L. Cohn Family Foundation
For the fourth year, 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
Thank you to the Illinois Arts Council Agency for their Artstour support of our L'sGA : Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
project. Arts Tour funding pays three artists/teams to create and
present new work in response to the Gettysburg Address and Sal
Martirano's L'sGA. Concerts will take place in Bloomington at the McLean
County Museum of History (March 4), Urbana at the Independent Media
Center (March 5) and Chicago at Elastic Arts (March 12).
NON:op received an Action Grant from Illinois Humanities to support our SAY THEIR NAMES Project. This funding allows us to continue this important research and support the development of a new database and map.
A big thank you to the Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council for their support of our SAY THEIR NAMES Project. Our partnership with HPKIC will support community outreach.
• • •
Board, Volunteer, Intern, and Other Opportunities
seeking board members, 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 at non [at] nonopera [dot] org if you would like to find out more and join us as we create an alternative future.
• • •
SUPPORT NON:op by purchasing NON:op merch!
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.
SHARE. INTERACT. COLLABORATE.
Christophe, Saba, Theo, Arlene, Kao, Ja Nelle, Kyle, and all of NON:op's creatives, staff, 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.