- By Civic Ensemble
Civic Ensemble's ReEntry Theatre Program presents its third production with 'Streets Like This', a full-length play written collaboratively by Thom Dunn and AC Sidle with members of ReEntry Theatre Program. Material comes from the real lives and imaginations of participants of the program. The play was created in weekly sessions over the past year and in rehearsals this spring. Sarah K. Chalmers, who facilitates the entire program and leads the sessions, directs this production, supported by assistant director Gabriella Carr, who is also producing this show.
'Streets Like This' introduces audiences to sit with Deon and Dennis, two local men getting up there in age. Deon is black, Dennis is white; both are worn out from past convictions, dysfunctional institutions, and the preventable deaths of loved ones. From their stoop, watch Crystal, Abby, and Brian struggle with their diverse obstacles and mistakes while stuck in the United States' broken criminal justice system. Deon and Dennis narrate the stories of these three and other characters navigating the perils of real life and their own demons while dealing with the consequences of probation, incarceration, parole, and court-ordered rehabilitation. 'Streets Like This', based on true stories, travels from the Meadow Street Mobil to Social Services offices and the curb outside Day Reporting to their own workplaces and homes. The play offers no single solution but rather brings you into their worlds. As Deon says, "But maybe next time, you'll do more than turn your heads away as you toss some spare change in their cups."
Civic Ensemble launched the ReEntry Theatre Program in 2015. It provides an opportunity for members of the community who have experienced incarceration - prison, jail, or drug rehabilitation - to learn storytelling skills, create theatre work, and build community together, regardless of arts experience, criminal record, or income. The group has previously presented A Setback Ain't Nothing but a Setup for a Comeback in March 2015 and Dreams and Nightmares: Do What You Always Did, Get What You Always Got in April 2016. As of October 2017, ReEntry Theatre Program meets every Monday 9am-11am at Day Reporting, to provide a consistent meeting for returning participants and give individuals sentenced to attend Day Reporting a creative outlet. It has been on hiatus during these rehearsals but will resume in June 2018.
The cast and crew consists of new and returning members of the ReEntry Theatre Program as well as actors from the community who have not experienced incarceration. AC Sidle, Abdullah Khalil Bey, Amy Heffron, Brian Briggs, Casandra Ponton, Edwin Santiago, Leroy Barrett, Melanie Uhlir, Monifa Wilford, Ralph Lawrence, Jr., Sherron Brown, and Terrell Dickson will act. A.J. Smith and Clay Hapstak will serve as backstage crew. Allegra Parker, who joined the ReEntry Theatre Program in fall 2017 but was not able to participate in the production, made a major contribution to the development of the play, as did innumerable participants from the weekly ReEntry Theatre Program sessions.
At the helm of this ensemble are stage manager Lauren Zurovitch and assistant stage manager Micah Greenleaf. The production is designed by Elizabeth Kitney (costumes & props), Lea Davis (lighting), and Rudy Gerson (sound), with scenic consultation from Norm Johnson. Off stage, support comes from Civic Ensemble staff Christine Hughes (Design Student Associate), Chanelle Ferguson (Communications Student Associate), Alicia Sanguiliano (Photographer), Charles Cadkin (Photographer & Videographer), Lucy Walker (Engagement Associate & Marketing Coordinator), and Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. (Artistic Director), along with the generous staff, fellows, and volunteers of the Kitchen Theatre Company and Greater Ithaca Activities Center.
Three performances will be held on Saturday, May 5 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, May 6 at 4:00 pm and 7:30 pm at the Kitchen Theatre Company. The Saturday performance will be followed by an opening night party.