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

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

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.
Musicircus LogoFounded 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 organization!

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been!

f(H2T) cardOur 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.)
On 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 pencils.)
NON:op's FoundersAt 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-hierarchy.]

NON:op is an idea of a way to be in the world.

SAY THEIR NAMESIn 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.)
Kao Ra ZenOn 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 the world??
NON:op 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 next ten.


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[ SAVE THE DATE ] From There to HERE: 10th Anniversary FEED Salon

NOVEMBER 25, 2023
From There to Here
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)

Dozzy's Grill
Beer provided by Moor’s Brewing Co.
(non-alcoholic beverages available)
performances by
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.
First 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 Contact for access questions.

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[ UPDATES ] Great News Abounds

Since 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 celebrations.
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.
Arlene Malinowski
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 Solo/Story curriculum.
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:
  • Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Chicago Arts Recovery Program to improve our digital and technical infrastructure as well as create a new website
  • ComEd/Powering the Arts for a series of three L'sGA concerts in three Chicago neighborhoods (see more below)
  • Field Foundation Funding to support the continued development of the SAY THEIR NAMES Project and a public launch of the updated interactive map and database
  • New Music USA New Music INC grant to support general operating and organization development
  • Illinois B2B grant to support general operations

• • •


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.
Adrian Dunn Singers
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.

• • •

NON:op 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.

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Governing and Programming Board Positions
Do 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:
Programming Committee
The programming committee meets monthly with the artistic director and is responsible for supporting current programming and devising and producing future programming and events.
Governing Committee
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.

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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
Thank you to our newest funder, The Drihaus Foundation. NON:op Open Opera Works is honored to receive their generous support of our programs and mission.
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.

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Board, Volunteer, Intern, and Other Opportunities
NON:op is 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.

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SUPPORT NON:op by purchasing NON:op merch!
Donate to NON:op
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, 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.  
Copyright © 2023 NON:op Open Opera Works, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
NON:op Open Opera Works
1357 East 57th Street #2
Chicago, IL 60637