Artist Talk and Albany Park Theater Project Residency

On stage and in community performance workshops for youths and adults, the Albany Park Theater Project challenges inequality and racism by asking people to bear witness to stories that might otherwise get overlooked or misrepresented. APTP performances humanize complex issues like immigration, foreclosure, poverty, abuse, hunger. Audience members emerge from their journeys at APTP with greater respect for the struggles and dreams of others – and with a desire to learn, have genuine dialogue, and take action. In the process of creating original plays, APTP has joined grassroots organizations throughout Chicago fighting against detentions and deportations, new prisons, foreclosures – and in support of humane immigration policy, investment in neighborhood schools, affordable housing, and more.

On Thursday, February 28th, Migration, Mobility and Immobility hosted Artist in Residence, David Feiner of Albany Park Theater Project.  Feiner’s talk, “Performing Migration, Mobility, and Immobility” was hosted in collaboration with the Multicultural Center, the Performance Studies Working group, and Discovery Theme’s Be the Street. In his artist talk, Feiner described APTP’s thirteen-month process for creating a piece of theater entitled Home/Land, which opened in Albany Park in 2012 and later went on to the Goodman Theatre. Home/Land is an ethnographic theater piece created by APTP’s youth ensemble that “brings to theatrical life a collection of real-life stories of desire, risk, resilience, heroism, love, and hope – as immigrant families strive to stay together and make a better life in the land they’ve come to call home” (Feiner 2012). A piece structured in three acts, Home/Land explores origin stories, a demonic system, and small miracles.

Feiner emphasized that in the APTP youth ensemble, they start with themselves and then expand outwards.  He spoke of how important it is at APTP that artists have direct connections to a subject matter and shared that this piece was particularly resonant as a quarter of the ensemble members were undocumented, themselves. APTP’s ethnographic process began with story circles and then progressed to attending rallies and planning meetings. At these events, the ensemble met leaders of the movement and these encounters led to interviews.  At each interview, the youth would ask, “who else should we be talking to?” Conversations with a father, Padre José, and a group that called themselves, “Women divorced by ICE” greatly influenced the piece. Feiner remembered the women commenting that it was so important to meet young people who wanted to hear their stories. Comments like these frame APTP’s work in memorializing this moment of the immigrant justice movement.

Maggie Popodiak, Stephany Perez, and David Feiner during the Q&A

Following Feiner’s talk, there was a Q&A with Director Maggie Popodiak and Actor Stephany Perez.  During this Q&A, we discussed some of the complexities of ethnography, the impact it had on the young people in the ensemble, and how the relationships with interviewees and activism continued after Home/Land opened.

In addition to this artist talk, APTP’s residency included David, Maggie, and Stephany visiting Be the Street’s community workshops and providing feedback to the graduate student facilitators as they create original performances with folks in the greater Hilltop area.

Session at Our Lady of Guadalupe Center

Session at the YMCA

Session at the Library

February 28th: Migration, Mobility, and Immobility Artist in Residence – Open to the Public

David Feiner and Albany Park Theater Project

“Performing Migration, Mobility, and Immobility”

 Thursday, February 28, 2019 4:00-5:30pm

Alonso Family Room, Multicultural Center

Free – no ticket needed

For 22 years the Albany Park Theater Project’s teen ensemble and adult theatre have designed world-class original theatre inspired by ethnography and real-life stories from immigrant and first-generation communities in Chicago. On stage and in community performance workshops, the Albany Park Theater Project challenges inequality and racism by asking people to bear witness to stories that might otherwise get overlooked or misrepresented.

APTP performances humanize complex issues like immigration, foreclosure, poverty, abuse, hunger. Audience members emerge from their journeys at APTP with greater respect for the struggles and dreams of others – and with a desire to learn, have genuine dialogue, and take action. In the process of creating original plays, APTP has joined grassroots organizations throughout Chicago fighting against detentions and deportations, new prisons, foreclosures – and in support of humane immigration policy, investment in neighborhood schools, affordable housing, and more.

David Feiner has co-directed, devised, and produced all of Albany Park Theater Project’s nineteen world premieres. With APTP, David’s honors include the Goodman’s August Wilson Award, the Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the Midwest Human Rights Award from National Immigrant Justice Center.  In 2016, APTP was named a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

Co-organized by the Migration, Mobility and Immobility Project, Be The Street, and the Performance Studies Working Group.

Be the Street 2018 Final Video Online!

It has been a long time coming! I’m happy to share that we now have a final video representing the first generation of Be the Street, which culminated in performances at Third Way Cafe on May 6, 2018. This was a gratifying process from which we all learned so much, and I’m so excited to see the second generation of Be the Street come together under Moriah’s leadership!!

Introducing New Artistic Director Moriah Flagler

Moriah Flagler, Artistic Director, Be the Street

We are very excited to announce that Moriah Flagler is joining Be the Street as Artistic Director for 2018-2020. Here, she answers a few questions about herself and her background. Please welcome Moriah to our team!!

Q: Could you talk a little bit about your background and how you became interested in devising?

A: I think it all started when I went to a new high school where I didn’t know anyone. I was sitting in homeroom and heard an announcement on the loudspeaker that there would be a meeting for an improvisation club at lunch. I didn’t really know what improv was, but thought it would be a good solution to eating lunch alone. Fast forwarding through high school, I eventually became the vice president of the group and a member of a local Tucson improv troupe. I didn’t know it then, but improvisation and devising are closely linked. In improv, I learned how to really listen to my collaborators and how to build on what they offered me and the project.  I learned how to support my teammates and how to trust that they had my back. I learned how to be flexible and respond in the moment as goals or tactics shifted. Most of all, I learned how important authenticity is onstage and off. Devising with a group is very much about collaboration… to make something together that exists because of the folks in the room. The process and the product would not exist without them. To me, this is a work of presence and generosity.

Much of my current devising work focuses on engaging across difference.  Before beginning graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, I lived in Quepos, Costa Rica for two years. There, I taught English, started an improv troupe with teens at the local theatre, and partnered with applied theatre facilitators doing work in youth development.  My experience living and working closely with members of the community in Quepos, deeply instilled my belief that people of different cultures and backgrounds hold a wealth of knowledge and skills that an outsider may not recognize unless they are willing and ready to make the familiar strange and really listen. In my devising work, I strive to create a space in which participants both recognize and share their community cultural wealth (skills and knowledges from their communities) with each other and their intended audiences.

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Q: What are some projects that you worked on recently that really excited you?

A: The work I do as an applied theatre facilitator focuses on sharing and listening to personal stories, with the goal of centering voices that the dominant culture often does not value. My work in this area includes interview-based ethnographic theatre, interactive audio installations, and digital storytelling with young people.

During my time as a graduate student in UT Austin’s Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program, I mentored and co-facilitated a devised ethnographic theatre piece, called Work, with director Matthew Hernandez and an undergraduate ensemble. Work was presented in the Cohen New Works Festival 2017. The ethnographic theatre piece combined audio interviews and devised movement with the hopes of creating connections between students and the custodial workers who care for the environments in which we learn and work.

In another project, Patchwork Stories, at the University of Exeter, UK, I collaboratively created an interactive installation with the goal of sharing the wisdom of those we live and walk amongst in times of challenge and change. As a member of the ensemble, I gathered and curated stories from the community members in the Exeter Drug Project and guided over 50 visitors through the installation.

To listen to my audio: https://tinyurl.com/jat4rmw, Select “Fix Your Gaze” #3.

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I’m as much a classroom teacher as I am a theatre maker; because of this, my most recent project explored how I could use applied theatre in my work as a teacher of non-arts content, and specifically in a middle school Spanish for Spanish Speakers class. I wondered how using applied theatre practices in this specific context might offer a way for young people and their teachers to build authentic relationships that focused on students’ assets and elevated their lived experiences or community cultural wealth in the classroom. During my residency, the young people engaged in drama, oral storytelling, and writing activities around the themes of community, family, and what we learn from these communities that help us navigate life.  All of this lead to them creating group digital stories in iMovie that they shared with invited friends and family.

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Q: What ideas or practices are you most anxious to explore as you get to know Columbus communities and students at Ohio State?

A: I am so excited to connect with students and community members — to see what they’re excited about, to hear their stories, and to create with them.  I’m very much looking forward to exploring how storytelling and activism can be linked in Columbus and what this can look like in terms of the work we do together.


Moriah Flagler is a teacher, theatre maker, and scholar. Her research focuses on community-based devising, applied improvisation, and digital storytelling. Her recent scholarship examines how devising digital stories with middle school aged Spanish speakers foregrounded their community cultural wealth in a schooling system that often strips Latinx youth of their languages and cultures through subtractive assimilation.

Moriah holds a Master of Fine Arts in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities from The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Education from The University of Arizona. She is excited to join the OSU Be the Street team as Artistic Director and to continue to explore the intersections of place, identity, connection, story, and social justice.

Moriah Flagler, Artistic Director, Be the Street