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Michael R. Jackson Q&A


with Dean E. Patrick Johnson, Associate Professor Miriam Petty and SoC alum Lili-Anne Brown

Thursday, February 25
7 – 8 p.m. (CST) on Zoom webinar


Michael R. Jackson‘s 2020 Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics Circle winning A Strange Loop (which had its 2019 world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in association with Page 73 Productions) was called “a full-on laparoscopy of the heart, soul, and loins” and a “gutsy, jubilantly anguished musical with infectious melodies” by Ben Brantley for The New York Times, and “exhilarating and wickedly funny” by Sara Holdren for New York. In The New Yorker, Vinsom Cunningham wrote, “To watch this show is to enter, by some urgent, bawdy magic, an ecstatic and infinitely more colorful version of the famous surreal lithograph by M. C. Escher: the hand that lifts from the page, becoming almost real, then draws another hand, which returns the favor.”

As a songwriter, he has seen his work performed everywhere from Joe’s Pub to NAMT. In addition to A Strange Loop, he also wrote book, music and lyrics for White Girl in Danger; and lyrics and book for the musical adaptation of the 2007 horror film Teeth with composer and co-bookwriter Anna K. Jacobs. Awards and associations include: a New Professional Theatre Festival Award, a Jonathan Larson Grant, a Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, an ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award, a Whiting Award, the Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting, a New York Drama Circle Critics Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama Desk Award, an Obie Award, an Antonyo Award, a Dramatist Guild Fellowship and he is an alum of Page 73’s Interstate 73 Writers Group. He has commissions from Grove Entertainment & Barbara Whitman Productions and LCT3 and is newly-elected member of the Dramatists Guild Council.

Mr. Jackson’s virtual visit is supported by the Hope Abelson Artist-in-Residence program, which was established at the School of Communication in 1990 through a generous gift from Hope Altman Abelson.

This event is presented in partnership with the Department of Theatre and the Black Arts Consortium.

Ruha Benjamin

Dialogue with the Dean

a series of conversations with emerging and established communicators who are advancing the futures of their fields, challenging paradigms, and promoting social justice

Dialogue with Ruha Benjamin

Thursday, February 18
6:30-8 p.m (CT) on Zoom

Ruha Benjamin is a professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier and Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code and editor of Captivating Technology. She has studied the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine for over fifteen years and speaks widely on issues of innovation, equity, health, and justice in the U.S. and globally. Benjamin is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the 2017 President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton as well as the Brooklyn Public Library’s 2020 Nonfiction Prize for Race After Technology.

Please join us for the Music Theatre Program’s
Kelsey Pharr, Jr. Speaker Series

Virtual Artist Talk and Q&A

Jess McLeod

Friday, January 29
5-6:30 PM (CST)

A screening of three short films directed by Jess McLeod will coincide with the event.

Q&A moderated by SoC faculty members Masi Asare and Roger Ellis

Director Jess McLeod specializes in new work about American otherness and recently served as Resident Director for the three-year run of Hamilton Chicago. Regional credits include There’s Always the Hudson (Woolly Mammoth**paused for COVID), Pride and Prejudice (Long Wharf) and Hype Man (Actors Theatre of Lousiville). Chicago credits include Wolf Play, Hang Man (The Gift); Venus (Steppenwolf Next Up!); Do You Feel Anger?, Fulfillment Center (A Red Orchid, Ensemble Member); Landladies (Northlight); How We Got On (Haven), SS! Midsummer (CST), L-vis Live! (Victory Gardens), and Marry Me A Little (Porchlight Music Theatre). NY credits include work by Joyce Carol Oates and The Unauthorized Musicology of Ben Folds (NYMF Director of Programming, 2005-08). Jess was the Goodman’s 2017 Michael Maggio Directing Fellow and a 2018 Artistic Fellow at Victory Gardens. She has created operas with Chicago community groups (Lyric Opera) and musicals with incarcerated teens through Storycatchers Theatre, and is currently developing Mill Girls (by Diana Lawrence & Samantha Beach) and the multi-disciplinary Redline Project. M.F.A., Northwestern.

Q&A with


Moderated by SoC Assistant Professor Erin Courtney

Friday, November 20
5 – 6 pm (CST)
Zoom Webinar

Moisés Kaufman is the founder and artistic director of Tectonic Theater Project, a Tony- and Emmy-nominated director and playwright, and a 2015 recipient of the National Medal of Arts. Mr. Kaufman’s Broadway directing credits include Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song, the revival of The Heiress with Jessica Chastain, 33 Variations (which he also wrote) starring Jane Fonda (5 Tony nominations); Rajiv Joseph’s Pulitzer Prize finalist Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo with Robin Williams; and Doug Wright’s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play I Am My Own Wife with Jefferson Mays. His play The Laramie Project (which he wrote with the Tectonic Theater Project company) is among the most performed plays in America. Other credits include Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde (which he also wrote), The Tallest Tree in the Forest (Mark Taper, BAM), The Nightengale (La Jolla Playhouse), The Common Pursuit (Roundabout), Macbeth with Liev Schreiber (Public Theater), This Is How It Goes (Donmar Warehouse), One Arm by Tennessee Williams (New Group and Steppenwolf Theatre Company), the opera El Gato con Botas (Puss in Boots) at the New Victory Theater, and Master Class with Rita Moreno (Berkeley Repertory Theatre). Kaufman also co-wrote and directed the HBO film adaptation of The Laramie Project, which received two Emmy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Writer. He is an Obie winner and a Guggenheim Fellow in Playwriting.

Erin Courtney is an assistant professor in the Department of Radio/Television/Film and an award-winning playwright. Her play A Map of Virtue, produced by 13P and directed by Ken Rus Schmoll, was awarded an Obie and described as “one of the most terrifying plays of the past decade” by Alexis Soloski in The New York TimesA Map of Virtue was nominated for a GLAAD Award and has had numerous productions across the country. She earned her MFA in playwriting at Brooklyn College with Mac Wellman, and her BA from Brown University, where she studied with Paula Vogel. She has been a member of New Dramatists since 2012, a MacDowell Colony fellow, a Core Writer at the Playwrights’ Center, a member of the Working Farm at Space on Ryder Farm, and she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013. She previously served as an assistant professor at Brooklyn College and the program coordinator of its MFA playwriting program.

Mr. Kaufman is visiting through the Hope Abelson Artist-in-Residence Program, which was established at the School of Communication in 1990 through a generous gift from Hope Altman Abelson.

Black Arts Chicago: The Forgotten Story

A Symposium

Friday, November 6th, 3-5pm

Zoom Registration:
FB Event:


  • Kemi Adeyemi
  • Theaster Gates 
  • Tempestt Hazel 
  • Maséqua Myers

Moderated by Melanie Chambliss (Columbia College Chicago)

Please join the Northwestern University Black Arts Consortium for a symposium on “Black Arts Chicago: The Forgotten Story.” This is the first event in Northwestern’s yearlong Sawyer Seminar: “The Black Arts Archive: The Challenge of Translation.” The Fall symposium will engage the rich archive of Black arts in Chicago to explore the deep histories, social and political artistic movements, and players in the city’s tradition of Black arts from the nineteenth century to the present.

Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Northwestern’s 2020-2021 Sawyer Seminar will include a series of symposiums, graduate courses, and a summer institute focusing on various archives of Black arts across the African Diaspora. The project emphasizes three regions: Chicago, the Caribbean (Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Haiti), and South Africa. With the goal of generating a sustained conversation over the course of the year, “The Black Arts Archive: The Challenge of Translation” Sawyer Seminar will feature a series of visiting artists and scholars from the three regions who will engage the theme of translation and the archive.


Kemi Adeyemi is Assistant Professor of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies and Director of The Black Embodiments Studio, an arts writing incubator and public lecture series, at the University of Washington. Her work uses performance as a site and methodology for theorizing the contours of contemporary black queer life. Her book, Feels Right: Black Queer Women’s Choreographies of Belonging in Chicago (Duke University Press), and co-edited volume, Queer Nightlife (University of Michigan Press), are forthcoming. Recent writing has appeared in GLQ, Women & Performance, and the Routledge Handbook of African American Art History.

Theaster Gates is a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Visual Arts and the Harris School of Public Policy, and is Distinguished Visiting Artist and Director of Artist Initiatives at the Lunder Institute for American Art at Colby College. In 2010, Gates created the Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit platform for art, cultural development, and neighborhood transformation that supports artists and strengthens communities through free arts programming and innovative cultural amenities on Chicago’s South Side. Gates has exhibited and performed at Tate Liverpool, Haus der Kunst, Walker Art Centre, Palais de Tokyo, Sprengel Museum, Kunstmuseum Basel, National Gallery of Art, Art Gallery of Ontario, Fondazione Prada, and dOCUMENTA (13). He was the winner of the Artes Mundi 6 prize and a recipient of the Légion d’Honneur in 2017. He was awarded the Nasher Prize for Sculpture, and the Urban Land Institute J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. Gates received the 2020 Crystal Award for his leadership in creating sustainable communities.

Tempestt Hazel is a curator, writer, and co-founder of Sixty Inches From Center, a Chicago-based arts publication and archiving initiative that has promoted and preserved the practices of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists, and artists with disabilities across the Midwest since 2010. Her curatorial work and work with Sixty was recently recognized with a J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award from the Society of American Archivists. She is also the Arts Program Officer for the Field Foundation. Her work at Field explores the ways in which Chicago’s artists, cultural workers, and their communities can challenge the systems that stifle their ability to thrive, and to develop alternative models that encourage self-determination, benefit communities, and align with community-identified needs, culture, and values. Tempestt was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois, spent several years in the California Bay Area, and has called Chicago her second home for over 12 years.

Ms. Maséqua Myers, former Executive Director of Chicago’s historic South Side Community Art Center, is an award winning theatre and film Producer, Director, Actor, Youth Mentor and Arts Administrator. Maséqua created Ajabu (Ah-jah-boo), the first children’s theatre company in Chicago and developed and directed the internship program for the feature film “Of Boys And Men”, starring Angela Bassett and Robert Townsend. Maséqua directed the groundbreaking
documentary, Nineteen and a Day, and the short film series highlighting “The Life and Times of Jean Baptist Point Dusable. The Women’s Board of the DuSable Museum of African American History awarded her the “Margaret Burroughs Legacy Award” and she received the Deloris Jordan “Excellence in Community Leadership” Award at the 2018 Black Harvest Film Festival. Ms. Myers is the Founder and CEO of Masequa Myers & Associates, a multimedia and arts consultation and production company, founded in 1992, during her two decades of relocation to Los Angeles, California.

John L. Jackson

Dean E. Patrick Johnson is pleased to invite you to attend his inaugural

Dialogue with the Dean

a series of conversations with emerging and established communicators who are advancing the futures of their fields, challenging paradigms, and promoting social justice

Dialogue with John L. Jackson

Wednesday, October 14
6:30-8 pm (CT) on Zoom

John L. Jackson, Jr., is the Walter H. Annenberg Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and Richard Perry University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He was previously Dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice and Special Adviser to the Provost on Diversity at Penn. Jackson earned his B.A. in Communication (Radio/TV/Film) from Howard University, completed his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University, and served as a junior fellow at the Harvard University Society of Fellows before becoming Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University.

Making Sweet Tea: A Discussion

Thursday, October 1, 2020 

Read more about the event.