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Edgewater Theatre Awarded Grant To Help Highlight Banned Literary Works

When it comes to the importance of the First Amendment and open access to information, Edgewater’s City Lit Theater Company at 1020 W. Bryn Mawr is dedicated to the philosophy. With the next several days being the Annual Banned Books Week, the nonprofit organization was awarded a $1,000 grant to help produce special dramatic readings from 11 censored books.

The series of readings called Books on the Chopping Block will be performed at 12 different locations this week. It will be held at special events, libraries and bookstores throughout the Chicagoland area.

City Lit Theater, which was founded in 1979, has been participating in the American Library Association (ALA) event every year since 2006. The hour-long show includes excerpts from select books that have faced bans due to their content.

“Books on the Chopping Block is a 60-minute performance of excerpts taken from the year’s books most frequently attacked by would-be censors,” said City Lit Theater Artistic Director Terry McCabe. “The ALA compiles the list each year.  The program calls attention to the harms of censorship and highlights the importance of open access to information. Each event includes a post-performance conversation with the actors, audience members, and library staff.”

In addition, City Lit Theater was among 12 different groups that were awarded $55,450 in funding from Illinois Humanities. The recipients were selected due to their ongoing support of cultural organizations and networks, and access to lifelong learning and civic engagements for audiences across Illinois.

“City Lit Theater is a high-quality, Edgewater-based theater committed to the vitality and accessibility of the literary imagination,” said Mark Hallett, Program Manager of Grants and Evaluation at Illinois Humanities. “This grant will help City Lit to expand this engaging initiative into seven additional libraries on the city’s south and west sides, making the program accessible to people in neighborhoods that generally have access to fewer arts and cultural opportunities than the rest of the city. Through this initiative, City Lit Theater hopes to gain a better understanding of the ways in which members of our communities experience censorship in their daily lives.”

Illinois Humanities has given out $17 million in grants to organizations over the last 45 years in order to expand access to the humanities for all Illinoisans. According to them, they work to strengthen the social, political, and economic fabric of Illinois through constructive conversation and community engagement.

The program brings City Lit Theater directly into libraries for a vibrant dialogue with members of the community about literature, freedom of ideas, and the foundations of our society.

McCabe said the grant has helped City Lit Theater expand to more locations and that the conversations are crucial by calling attention to the would-be censor’s threat to an educated democracy.

City Lit Theater plans to continue the yearly program into the future.

For more information and a list of books they will be reading from, go to City Lit’s website.

Schedule Of Performances:

Sunday 9/22, 2 p.m. – Sulzer Library, 4455 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

Monday 9/23, 1 p.m. – ALA Headquarters, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago

Monday 9/23, 4 p.m. – Bridgeport Branch, 3400 S. Halsted St., Chicago

Monday 9/23, 7 p.m. – Frankfort Public Library. 21119 S. Pfeiffer Rd., Frankfort

Tuesday 9/24, 4 p.m. – Back of the Yards Branch, 2111 47th St., Chicago, 

Tuesday 9/24, 7:30 p.m. – Mount Prospect Library, 10 S. Emerson St., Mount Prospect

Wednesday 9/25, 6:30 p.m. – Budlong Woods Branch, 5630 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

Thursday 9/26, 4:30 p.m. – Edgewater Branch, 6000 N. Broadway, Chicago

Friday 9/27, 1 p.m. – DePaul Library, 2350 N. Kenmore Ave., Chicago

Friday 9/27, 6:30 p.m. – Justice Entrepeneur Project, 208 S. Jefferson St., Suite 204, Chicago

Saturday 9/28, 11 p.m. – Bezazian Branch, 1226 W. Ainslie St., Chicago

Tuesday 10/1, 6:30 p.m. – Lincoln-Belmont Branch, 1659 W. Melrose St., Chicago


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