Activist company

The theater company Collaboraction will host UTOPIAN BALL in November

It’s been a big year for Chicago’s Collaboraction Theater Company, capped off with an Emmy nomination last week for The Lost Story of Emmett Till: Trial in the Delta, the Collaboraction documentary TV movie co-produced with NBC5 Chicago.

Celebrate and support the powerful change Collaboraction is creating through theater, social justice, and innovative productions like Trial in the Delta at the society’s annual Utopian Ball, Saturday, November 5 at 6 p.m. at Venue West, 221 N. Paulina St. in West Town.

This year’s annual celebration includes a cocktail reception, sit-down dinner, performances by Collaboraction artists, live band, prizes, raffle, dancing and more.

Tickets are $250 or $2,500 for a table of 10 – an investment in Collaboraction’s work on Chicago’s South and West Sides, its vibrant youth programming, and its mission to inspire change and unite Chicago by art. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit

Enter the utopian ball

Each year, Collaboraction’s annual Utopian Ball begins with a traditional libation ritual to cleanse the room and unite everyone’s hearts, minds and souls, followed by a cocktail reception and a three-course sit-down meal.

Carla Stillwell, producer of Collaboraction and cultural historian of Black Joy, is this year’s host. The Light, the ensemble of young artists/activists from Collaboraction, will shine brightly on stage throughout the night. Collaboraction’s house band, The Wild Onion, will play live, with surprise appearances and performances by Collaboraction company members and artists.

“The Utopian Ball is an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate Collaboraction’s successes over the past year,” said Dr. Marcus Robinson, Co-Director of Enrich Chicago. Robinson is co-chair of the 2022 Utopian Ball with David Cherry, senior vice president of the All Stars Project of Chicago.

“Initiatives like introducing healing theater with last summer’s Moonset Sunrise celebrations on Navy Pier, welcoming a new Light cohort with shows at Kidzapalooza and the Silver Room Block Party, the hosting our 7th annual PEACEBOOK festival in the Austin-Chicago community and winning film festival awards for virtual programs like Encounter Englewood and Oh, Colonizers.”

Speaking of awards, Collaboraction’s 2022 Ourhaus Award will be presented to restaurateur Robert Gomez and his wife, Beth, for their continued support of Collaboraction’s work. Collaboraction’s 2022 Artist Award will be presented to longtime company member, producer and educator Sarah Swift.

Guests will also enter the ground floor of Collaboraction’s next big thing – a fully staged live production of Trial in the Delta: The Murder of Emmett Till, taking place February 9-19, 2023 at DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center.

The original NBC5 Chicago/Collaboration tele-play, The Lost Story of Emmett Till: Trial in the Delta, was filmed in one day in February 2022 at the NBC studio in Chicago. This month, Trial in the Delta was nominated for a Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for Outstanding Achievement in “Human Interest – Long Form.”

Next February, Trial in the Delta will return in a lively docu-drama style, with the audience mingling “in the courtroom” alongside actors portraying the boy’s mother, family members and witnesses to the defense and prosecution. The result will be a powerful and immersive recreation of what really happened in this 1955 rural Mississippi courtroom, site of one of the most monumental injustices in the American legal system in the 20th century.

Trial in the Delta: The Murder of Emmett Till is co-adapted by G. Riley Mills and Willie Round, and directed by Anthony Moseley and Dana N. Anderson. Tickets cost between $30 and $55 and are on sale now at

Email [email protected] for information on student and group rates, and private event performances.

The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center is located at 740 E. 56th Place in the community of Hyde Park in Chicago.

The original Collaboraction/NBC5 Chicago co-production of The Lost Story of Emmett Till: Trial in the Delta is still streaming on Peacock, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and free on and the NBC5 Chicago app.

Collaboraction’s Utopian Ball organizing committee (at press time) includes Andrew Balderson, Balderson & Company; Alexis Booth (Google); David Cherry, All Stars Project; Sandra Delgado, member of Collaboraction, creator of La Havana Madrid and The Sandra Delgado Experience; Justin Frick, AV Chicago; Elsa Hiltner, Lawyers for the Creative Arts; Darlene Jackson, Chair of the Collaboration Board and First Lady of Chicago House Music; Linda Karn; Dana and Rick LaChapelle, LaChapelle Family Foundation; Paul Levy, Bridgeport Arts Center/Rockwell on the River; Jay McAllister, Paragon Technician; Pat Merryweather, Rotary Club of Naperville; and Matt Woodburn and Sarah Neukom, ESP Presents. The Utopian Ball is sponsored by AV Chicago, Ethos Event Collective, the Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation and the Marc and Jeanne Malnati Foundation.

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