Welcome Lauren Wells-Mann, ChiArts’ New Theatre Department Head!

ChiArts is thrilled to announce Lauren Wells-Mann as the new Theatre Department Head! Ms. Wells-Mann is a licensed Theatre educator with a strong background in Theatre education, leadership, and as an actor, director, dancer, and choreographer. Ms. Wells-Mann began her leadership at ChiArts on June 27, 2022 and shares, “ChiArts is an amazing institution that I have admired for years. I am so grateful for the opportunity to add to the tradition of excellence and serve students in their quest for success in the world of Theatre. I am looking forward to this upcoming school year that I anticipate will be one of the best years yet!” 

Lauren Wells-Mann is a proud company member with MPAACT, where she had the pleasure of directing the following productions: Mother of the Dark Water (Jeff Nominee for Best Ensemble, Black Excellence Nominee for Best Production and Best Direction), By Association by Shepsu Aakhu (Black Excellence Nominee for Best Production) and various podcast plays. Assistant Director credits include: Upstate by Aaron Todd Douglass, directed by Carla Stillwell and Crowns by Regina Taylor, directed by Chuck Smith.  Mrs. Wells-Mann holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theater/Acting from Columbia College Chicago and a Masters in Secondary Education from University of Phoenix. She began her professional acting career with Eta Creative Arts Foundation. It was here that Lauren had the pleasure of working with esteemed directors such as Ilesa Duncan, Kemati Porter, Runako Jahi, and Cheryl Lynn Bruce. She has also performed with companies such as Lookingglass Theatre Company, Black Ensemble, MPAACT, Harlem Theater Company, Healthworks Theater Company, and Victory Gardens to name a few. Lauren also directed and choreographed for Eta’s summer program, Chicago on the Nile for 3 years, Black Lives Black Words – Chicago and 20% Theater Company, Perceptions Theatre, and Griot Theatre Collective. Lauren attributes her directing prowess to the tutelage of Darcelle Williams, Cheryl Frazier, and Carla Stillwell.

In addition to these accolades, Mrs. Wells-Mann has been coaching competitive acting and speech events for the Illinois High School Association for 19 years. Under her direction, students have won numerous state and national championships in various acting and public speaking activities. Lauren Wells-Mann believes in the power of the arts and the importance of BIPOC artists having autonomy over their own narratives; it is a mission to which she is deeply committed.

Congrats, ChiArts Class of 2022!

Congratulations to The Chicago High School for the Arts‘ Class of 2022! As ChiArts’ 10th graduating class, graduates have completed over 2,500 hours of pre-professional arts training and will join more than 1,000 alumni who are making their way in the world as artists, performers, educators, entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, and more.
 
 We are incredibly proud of all 130 graduates. As Artistic Director Tina Boyer Brown shares,“Here’s the hope. You are. You are the hope and the promise– not just of the future but of the present.”
 
 

3 ChiArts Winter Shows You Cannot Miss

ChiArts produces over 70 showcases a year! From creative writing readings to jazz showcases, we work hard to balance a full academic load, conservatory classes, and rehearsals! Here are three upcoming winter showcases that truly champion ChiArts’ overachiever spirit. 
 
Student Choreography Showcase: On January 28, senior dancers become choreographers! Watch ChiArts original pieces choreographed, auditioned, and directed by the dance class of 2020. Each senior will speak on behalf of their piece, along with their industry mentor who helps guide the process and production.
 
Spring Large Ensemble: The ChiArts music department is currently the number one high school program in the state! This concert on February 14 showcases our instrumental ensembles, and will include pieces they will perform at the IHSA competition.
 
Feature Musical: Every year, we produce a full scale musical inviting all five conservatories to audition! This year, a cast of 50+ scholar-artists from all conservatories will perform the Tony- and Grammy-nominated show CHICAGO, THE MUSICAL. The production will run from March 8-10, 2020.

 

ChiArts Seniors Sarah Bonds & Victor Garcia Featured in The Chicago Sun-Times

Sarah Bonds (Theatre Conservatory) and Victor Garcia (Visual Arts Conservatory) are two rising senior artists, multifaceted leaders, and both wise beyond their years. This fall, Sarah and Victor were accepted into Chicago’s 2019 Rising Star Honor Roll and featured in The Chicago Sun-Times. We’re so proud of all they’ve accomplished and the knowledge they continue to share in our communities. Click the links or images below to learn more about their work and watch video features! 
 
 
 
These profiles are part of a series made possible by Allstate as part of its commitment to support young artists in Chicago and to empower the next generation of rising stars.

ChiArts Theatre Alumni Making Major Moves

Theatre alumni Taylor Blackman will be originating the role of “Emmett Till” in the new Musical adaption of his life titled “Till” at the New York Musical Festival! Taylor shares in a Facebook post,“I am so eager to tell the truth this story holds and implement the importance and tragic loss of this young black child in America. I always had the hope that my art would allow me to tell stories that matter specifically to me and my brown body while also help push the narrative and storyline of humanity itself.” For ChiArts friends in NYC, the show will run from July 23rd-28th at the The Pershing Square Signature Center, click here for tickets.
 
On June 30, theatre alumna Kyrie Courter finished her final performance as Natalie Goodman in Next to Normal at the acclaimed Writers Theatre. And the understudy for Natalie Goodman throughout the show’s run? None other than fellow Theatre alumna Ariana Burks! Ariana also has a featured role in the new Netflix film BEATS, along with ChiArts alumni Evan J Simpson and stars previous scholar-artist Khalil Everage!

Congrats ChiArts Class of 2019! What’s next?!

The Chicago High School for the Arts’ 7th class of graduates are off on their next adventure. We’re honored to have been a stepping stone for these future leaders of our world. Did you know that the ChiArts class of 2019 spans universities in 20 states, three countries, and 66 of our scholar-artists are attending local universities in-state?! Get to know more about our recent graduates below:
 

ChiArts Theatre Presents BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL

This March, ChiArts presents Tony Award nominated, BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL. With music by Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel and Amanda Green, BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL will be a vocally explosive experience. In addition to a “Best Musical” Tony nomination, the show received a nod for “Best Choreography” which is showcased through incredible cheerleading routines and high energy musical numbers. BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL will run March 2, 3, and 7-10, with performances beginning at 7:00 PM and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. All performances are in the ChiArts Auditorium.

ChiArts aims to create content that pushes boundaries and we cannot wait to show audiences the versatility of our scholar-artists in this spectacular production. TICKETS ON SALE NOW! We’d HIGHLY recommended purchasing in advance as we are expecting to sell out.

Presenting the 2019 ChiArts National YoungArts Winners

Since 1981, the National YoungArts Foundation recognizes “the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary, design and performing arts, and assist them at critical junctures in their educational and professional development.” This year, four amazing ChiArts scholar-artists are joining the ranks of internationally recognized YoungArts alumni such as Viola Davis, Tarell A. McCraney, Josh Groban, Camille A. Brown, and Daniel Arsham to list a few.
Huge congratulations to Creative Writer, Damayanti Wallace for her Honorable Mention for Play or Script, Creative Writer Aureane Roullier for Merit for Novel, Visual Artist, Janessa Soliveras for receiving the highest recognition as a 2019 YoungArts Finalist, and Theatre Major, Nia Sarfo knocking it out of the park as a 2019 YoungArts Finalist in Theatre as well. Watch Nia’s incredible performance from Tuesday, January 8 at the 2019 YoungArts Week in Miami (monologue begins at 48:18)!
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Tracy Letts Visits ChiArts

On February 27th, the ChiArts’ Creative Writing and Theatre conservatories spent the afternoon with acclaimed playwright, screenwriter, Steppenwolf ensemble member, and actor, Tracy Letts. With a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award under his belt, Mr. Letts is also having a stand-out year on screen with roles in two 2018 Academy Award Best Picture nominees, Lady Bird and The Post. As Mr. Letts walked into the ChiArts Black Box Theatre, scholar-artists filled every seat, floor space, with little to no standing room available. Theatre Major and 2018 August Wilson Monologue winner, Nia Sarfo, welcomed Mr. Letts and conducted a memorable interview covering topics such as mastering nerves to the value of finding confidence as an artist. When asked for advice he’d give to young actors and writers, Mr. Letts reinforced the importance of creating your own opportunities; “Do it yourself. You shouldn’t ever feel like someone should give you permission to work.”

When you first meet Mr. Letts, his authenticity and curiosity captivates. Throughout the question and answer portion, scholar-artists seemed to appreciate his honest and humorous advice. In response to questions on winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Mr. Letts said “I think it changed people’s perception of me. I feel like people think I’m smarter than I am. But, I hope you all win one! It’s fun to have.” On a more serious note, Letts connected success with tenacity and patience. “Stick to it. Just keep doing it. Outlast them. It took me a long time to value what it means to be an artist in this city. To call yourself an artist is a very valuable thing.” After taking the time to personally interact with scholar-artists after the interview, Mr. Letts met with ChiArts’ improv troupe and joined in games that included conga lines, Shakespeare lines, and lots of laughter. After the improv games and to begin Mr. Lett’s tour of ChiArts, Nia Sarfo performed her winning monologue from the August Wilson Monologue Competition finals.

After the featured interview, Mr. Letts had an opportunity to engage with Theatre and Creative Writing classes. The tour ended with a visit to the Visual Arts Sophomore Show in ChiArts Gallery. With Creative Writer, Damayanti Wallace, and Nia Sarfo leading the tour, along with Executive & Artistic Director, José Ochoa, and ChiArts Board Members Jim and Kay Mabie, ChiArts was grateful for Mr. Letts’ time and support of arts education. When asked by scholar-artists on why he was interested in visiting ChiArts, Mr. Letts responded with “I look around at your faces and I see the future. That’s why I’m here.” 

ChiArts would like to sincerely thank the private donor who provided this incredible learning opportunity for our scholar-artists and faculty.

 

 

ChiArts Presents Les Misérables

We’re incredibly proud to present our largest production yet, Les Misérables. With over 50 cast and crew members, join us for this unforgettable story of redemption, duty, and love.

Production Run- January 18, 19, and 20 at 7:00 PM
Final matinee on Sunday, January 21 at 3:00 PM

Click here for tickets!

Have you seen the ChiArts Les Mis flash mob? Check out our amazing cast! 

Share Les Misérables with your friends and family on Facebook- #JoinOurRevolution #WeAreChiArts

We’re hosting a food drive-
The cast of Les Mis invites audience members to bring a non-perishable food item to drop in the lobby with NHS volunteers before they see the show! This is not required but highly encouraged. The themes of the show, which center around the working class, have inspired this food drive donation.