Voices of a People's History
Voices of a People's History


January 7, 2012 - February 1, 2012

“The People Speak, Live!” on January 31, 2012, features MATT DAMON and LUPE FIASCO from the cast of THE PEOPLE SPEAK, with Chicago poets ANGELA JACKSON, KEVIN COVAL, IDRIS GOODWIN, AVERY R. YOUNG, and Louder Than a Bomb All-Stars MALCOLM LONDON and SHE’KIRA MCKNIGHT; Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble members ALANA ARENAS and ROBERT BREULER; Chicago Tribune journalist RICK KOGAN; civic leader RAMI NASHASHIBI of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network; THE LUNA BLUES MACHINE with sisters BELINDA and MARITZA CERVANTES; performer LANI T. MONTREAL of Pintig CIRCA Cultural Group; actor BRIAN QUIJADA; activist AMEENA MATTHEWS; and, more special guests to be announced. With DJ ITCH 13 on the 1s and 2s.

Learn more about members of the cast, with more bios coming soon!

Steppenwolf Theater Company Ensemble member Alana Arenas created and reprised the role of Pecola Breedlove in the Steppenwolf production of The Bluest Eye, which also played at the New Victory Theater Off-Broadway. Prior to her performance as Mary Warren in The Crucible, Alana appeared in Spare Change and The Sparrow Project, both for First Look Repertory of New Work. She is a graduate of the Theatre School at DePaul University.

Steppenwolf Theater Company Ensemble member Robert Breuler won a Joseph Jefferson Award for his acclaimed turn as a Russian negotiator in Steppenwolf’s A Walk in the Woods. Bob has a distinguished stage career that originated in Minneapolis. He’s appeared in over forty Steppenwolf productions, making him a well-known favorite among Chicago audiences.

Actress and musician Maritza Cervantes fraduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2001 with a BA in Theater with a concentration in Acting. She has been part of the Chicago theater scene for the past 15 years working with The Goodman Theater, Aguijon Theater, and Teatro Luna. She is a musician/songwriter/guitarista with The Luna Blues Machine, which she co-founded with sister Belinda, also in 2001. Together they wrote the musical score for Romeo y Julieta performed at Little Village H.S through Chicago Shakespeare as well as 20 Love poems and a Song at Bailiwick Theater. Maritza currently works as a Teaching Artist with Project AIM integrating theater into CPS classroom curriculums at Pulaski International School of Chicago, Calmeca Acadamy of Fine Arts & Dual Language, and Benito Juarez H.S.

Kevin Coval is the author of ALA “Book of the Year” finalist Slingshots: A Hip-Hop Poetica and of Everyday People. His latest collection, from Haymarket Books, is L-Vis Lives!: Racemusic Poems. He is co-founder and Artistic Director of Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Teen Poetry Festival, subject of an award-winning documentary of the same name, which had its broadcast premiere on the Oprah Winfrey Network in January 2012. A regular contributor to Chicago Public Radio, and a four-time HBO Def Poet, Coval teaches at the School of the Art Institute and in high schools around Chicago.

Idris Goodwin is a playwright, poet, essayist, educator and performer. His multi genre, hip hop influenced work for page and stage earned him awards from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Ford Foundation, and The Illinois Arts Council. His play How We Got On, developed at The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center will premiere at The 2012 Humana Festival of New Plays. This acclaimed hip hop lyricist was praised by the New York Times, National Public Radio and The Root Magazine, who named him in the top 30 performance poets in the world. Idris appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry, The Discovery Channel, and most recently, Sesame Street. These Are The Breaks, his debut collection of essays, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Idris is an adjunct playwriting professor at Northwestern University. Throughout the year this highly sought artist educator gives over fifty performances and lectures at institutions across the country.

Itch13 aka Itchie Fingers is a DJ, MC, and producer from Chicago who has shared stages with Common, Wiz Khalifa, Guru of Gangstarr, Little Brother, Matt & Kim, Far East Movement, DJ Kool Herc, Dead Prez, & The Black Sheep, to name a few. He’s performed at just about every major venue in Chicago, including Millenium Park, Chicago Theatre, House of Blues, every major museum, as well as the Metro. Hip-Hop to the core, but also a man with eclectic taste, you may hear house, rock, reggae, disco, funk, soul, pop, latin, drum n bass, dubstep and many other styles in his sets. You can catch him every Second Friday at Coup de’Tat, 2109 S. Wabash, for the monthly world music party The Sonic Diaspora, or check out some of his music at mixcloud.com/itch13, BloomBap.bandcamp.com, and find out about upcoming events on Facebook!

Angela Jackson, poet, playwright and fictionist was born July 25, 1951 in Greenville, Mississippi. Her father, George Jackson, Sr. and mother, Angeline Robinson Jackson moved to Chicago where Jackson attended St. Anne’s Catholic School. Fascinated with books, Jackson frequented the Kelly Branch Library and admired Chicago’s Gwendolyn Brooks. She graduated from Loretto Academy in 1968 with a pre-med scholarship to Northwestern University. In 1977, Jackson received her B.A. degree from Northwestern University and went on to earn her M.A. degree from the University of Chicago.

At Northwestern University, Jackson joined FMO, the black student union. Influenced by artist Jeff Donaldson and visiting poet Margaret Walker, she was invited by Johnson Publishing’s Black World magazine editor, Hoyt W. Fuller, to join the Organization for Black American Culture (OBAC), where she stayed as a member for twenty years. At OBAC, Fuller mentored young black writers like Haki Madhubuti (Don L. Lee), Carolyn Rodgers, Sterling Plumpp and others. Jackson was praised as a reader and performer on Chicago’s burgeoning black literary scene. First published nationally in Black World in 1971, Jackson’s first book of poetry, Voodoo Love Magic was published by Third World Press in 1974. She won the eighth Conrad Kent Rivers Memorial Award in 1973; the Academy of American Poets Award from Northwestern University in 1974; the Illinois Art Council Creative Writing Fellowship in Fiction in 1979; a National Endowment For the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship in Fiction in 1980; the Hoyt W. Fuller Award for Literary Excellence in 1984; the American Book Award in 1985; the DuSable Museum Writers Seminar Poetry Prize in 1984; Pushcart Prize for Poetry in 1989; ETA Gala Award in 1994; Illinois Authors Literary Heritage Award in 1996; six Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards; five for fiction and one for poetry; The Carl Sandburg Award; Chicago Sun-Times Friends of Literature Book of the Year Award; an Illinois Art Council Creative Writing Fellowship in Playwriting in 2000; and in 2002, the Shelley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America.

Jackson’s published poetic works include: The Greenville Club, 1977 (chapbook); Solo in the Boxcar Third Floor E, 1985; The Man with the White Liver, 1987; Dark Legs and Silk Kisses: The Beatitudes of the Spinners, 1993; and All These Roads Be Luminous: Poems New and Selected, 1997, which was nominated for the National Book Award. Her plays include Witness!, 1970; Shango Diaspora: An African American Myth of Womanhood and Love, 1980; and When the Wind Blows, 1984 (better known as the eta production entitled, Comfort Stew). Northwestern University Press published her first novel Where I Must Go in 2009.

Born and raised and still living in Chicago, Rick Kogan writes for the Chicago Tribune, is the creator/host of WGN radio’s “Sunday Papers with Rick Kogan” and the author of a dozen books, including “Everybody Pays: Two Men, One Murder and the Price of Truth” (with Maurice Possley), “America’s Mom: The Life, Lesson and Legacy of Ann Landers,” “A Chicago Tavern,” the history of the Billy Goat, and “Sidewalks I” and “Sidewalks II,” collections of his columns embellished by the work of photographer Charles Osgood.

Malcolm London is a young Chicago poet, performer and educator. He won top individual performer and with his team at the 2011 Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival. Malcolm has performed on stages all across the city of Chicago, including at the Chicago Jazz Festival, Vic Theater, Steppenwolf Theater, and Victory Garden. He hosts the largest weekly youth open mic in Chicago, YouMedia Lyricist Loft, and is an ensemble member and conservatory fellow at Victory Gardens Theatre. He is a teaching artist at Young Chicago Authors and anticipates his first published chapbook from New School Poetics. Malcolm will enroll at the University of Illinois at Chicago in Fall 2012.

Based out of Chicago, The Luna Blues Machine fuses acoustic hip-hop with soul, folk, latin and any other genre that moves them. Fronted by sisters Belinda and Maritza Cervantes (mandolin and guitar), accompanied by bass (John “Hippie” Germinaro) and a combination of drums and djembe, LBM stands out as one of the most experimental acoustic music acts working in Chicago today. With the accompaniment of bass and drums, their feel-good rhythms, engaging stories, tight harmonies and charismatic hooks will make you want to getcha self a little luna love. LBM has played at Elbo Room, Funky Buddha Lounge, Goose Island, Chicago Cultural Center, The Hot House, Subterranean, Betty’s Blue Star Lounge, The Morseland, and Red Line Tap. They were part of the Great Performers of Illinois for two consecutive years and won Underground Wonder Bar’s Battle of the Bands in 2006.

Lani T. Montreal is an educator, writer, performer, and community activist. Her writings have been published and produced in Canada, the U.S., the Philippines and in cyberspace. Among her memorable plays are: Gift of Tongue, Looking for Darna, Alien Citizen, and her most-toured (and personal favorite) comedy drama about gender and immigration titled Sister OutLaw. Her essay “Language as Weapon: Lessons from the Frontlines” was recently published in the Institute for Writing and Thinking journal, Writing from the Inside Out (Summer 2011). She is the recipient of the 2008 3Arts Ragdale Residency Fellowship for Playwriting, the 2001 Samuel Ostrowsky Award for her memoir “Summer Rain,” and the 1995 JVO Philippine Award for Excellence in Journalism for her environmental expose “Poison in the River.” Lani holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. She teaches English & Communications at Malcolm X College. She is a member of Pintig CIRCA Cultural Group, former program director for Insight Arts, and was among the first batch of the Mango Tribe Performance Collective.

Rami Nashashibi has served as the Executive Director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network(IMAN, a non-profit community organization that fights for social justice, delivers a range of direct services, and cultivates the arts in urban communities) since its incorporation as a nonprofit in January 1997. He has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago and has been an adjunct professor at various colleges and universities across the Chicagoland area, where he has taught a range of Sociology, Anthropology, and other Social Science courses.

He has worked with several leading scholars in the area of globalization, African American studies and urban sociology and has contributed chapters to edited volumes by Manning Marabel and Saskia Sassen. Rami has lectured across the United States, Europe and Middle East on a range of topics related to American Muslim identity, community activism and social justice issues and is a recipient of several prestigious community service and organizing awards. Rami serves on the Muslim American Advisory Council to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and has been featured in many national and international media outlets including the BBC, PBS, New York Times and Al Jazeera for his work with IMAN. In 2007 Islamica Magazine named Rami among the “10 Young Muslim Visionaries Shaping Islam in America” and in 2010 Chicago Public Radio selected him as one of the city’s Top Ten Chicago Global Visionaries. Rami was also named one of the “500 Most Influential Muslims in the World” by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in concert with Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and was recognized by the White House as a “Champion of Change” for his work with IMAN.

Brian Quijada is a graduate of the University of Iowa with a BA in English and Theatre. Based in Chicago, Brian has performed at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center (2011 National Playwright’s Conference), Shawnee Theater (Indiana’s oldest professional summer theatre), the Milwaukee Comedy Festival and the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival with The Comic Thread (for which he has also directed), and will be performing at this year’s Humana Festival in Louisville, KY.

avery r. young
Cave Canem Fellow avery r. young is a writer/performer/ teaching artist from Chicago, IL. His written works have been published in various anthologies and he has performed in dozens of venues in America and abroad. His visual text or concrete poems have been published in Coon Bidness and Queer Chicago Anthology. His music and visual work will be explored in his Dorchester Projects residency. His work was also featured in the Silver Room’s 100 Canvases To Change The World exhibit. His collaborative text & image work with photographer Cecil McDonald has appeared in the Talkin’ Back: Text & Image exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Photography consecutively from 2005 to 2011.