documentary


Stage and film documentaries 
  

Developed over the course of 2-3 years, these projects are created with groups of people whose life stories are close-ups on the history and culture of their time. With director and production team, a script is created from writings, interviews, and group discussions, then sequenced to tell a bigger story through the group's collective experiences. The result is a stage production with the participants, and a documentary film about the process. These projects illuminate the future by revisiting how the past became the present. 

Two of these projects, StreetsmARTs Call Me By My Name and Acting Our Age, were developed / produced 2017-2020 by The Playworks Group in association with partnering organizations. Scroll the galleries for overview, and see the Playworks website for more.



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Acting Our Age
 Developed by Lyndall Hare, Steve Umberger / Directed by Steve Umberger
A collaboration between Aldersgate and The Playworks Group

Seven people ages 73-95 relive how their stories intersected with 100 years of America's story.

"The collaboration between director and gerontologist turns decades of memories into a collective whole." Observer
   

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Call Me By My Name 
 Developed and directed by Steve Umberger
Film by Steve Umberger, Jay Thomas
A collaboration between First United Methodist Church and The Playworks Group

A journey into the world of the streets, guided by those who have lived there

"The experience has been profoundly positive - and one that has cultivated growth socially, creatively and consciously."  QC Nerve 


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 "This is an example of how we can save the world - conversations, empathy, engagement." Audience member Rosemary Monaghan



"There's nothing like live performance, and with all that's going on in the world, people feel the need to gather in community. The theatre has always provided that, whether it's indoors, outdoors, or a production broadcast on a screen. It helps us see our lives a little more clearly when we see how others have navigated their challenges. These documentaries on stage and film give people a long time to become close, gain confidence in themselves and trust in each other. And the audience then recognizes their own experience in the stories they see. It's really a microcosm of what can happen when a community comes together."
Steve Umberger, interview for ASweatLife/Chicago © , 2019
Photo credit: Jay Thomas, 2019