Dozens of Chicago Theaters Will Pledge Inclusion and Compassion on Eve of Inauguration

Dozens of Chicago Theaters Will Pledge Inclusion and Compassion on Eve of Inauguration

On Thursday night at 5:30 PM, thousands of theater practitioners will gather outside of hundreds of theaters across the country to participate in a ceremony promising to create a “light for dark times ahead.” The event is called “The Ghostlight Project,” and is organized by many theater luminaries. Inspired by the tradition of leaving a “ghostlight” on in a darkened theater, participants will be invited to pledge their commitment to “stand for and protect the values of inclusion, participation and compassion for everyone regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, gender identity, sexual identity or dissident actions in the coming years. The lights symbolize hope and a belief that, through action, change is possible.”

Steppenwolf Ensemble member Tina Landau, one of the founders of the project says,“The theater in general has always espoused values of inclusion and diversity, and The Ghostlight Project now asks us to stand ever more actively and aggressively behind our commitment to those values. The project is designed not only as beautiful, poetic action on the 19th, but also as a beautiful, prosaic set of ongoing actions into the future. In these challenging times, so many people I know are asking, “What can I DO?” The Ghostlight Project aims to help answer that question, and specifically for a nationwide network of theaters and theater folk. As a US President from Chicago once said, ‘We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.’”

“We know, now more than ever, that we will not be cowed by the intimidation or threats of those who fear what we have to say nor will we be broken by the hatred and fear being used to fracture and separate us,” said Steppenwolf Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro. Steppenwolf will host a public gathering in their parking lot where ensemble members will read a statement on behalf of Steppenwolf and a ghostlight will be officially lit at 5:30pm. Steppenwolf’s ghostlight will remain lit in the theater lobby “until no longer needed.” The event will be wheelchair-accessible and feature ASL Interpretation.

Other Chicago theaters participating include Chicago Shakespeare, Theater Wit, Jackalope, Lookingglass, Second City, Prop Thtr, Victory Gardens, and many more. Goodman Theatre will dedicate their new marquee as part of the event.

Victory Gardens Artistic Director Chay Yew said “We welcome all of Chicago, our neighbors and artists, members of every community, friends and family to join us for a moment of silence to reflect on ways to continue to unite our city and country. Come one, come all, Victory Gardens is your home.”

Lisa Peterson, a founder of The Ghostlight Project said, “It’s amazing to watch so many theater communities pull together and organize themselves!  It means the event on January 19 will have some impact, and mostly we hope it will inspire us all to stay active and vigilant as a community, across the country, in times to come.”

About author

Jason Epperson

Jason is a producer, manager, and designer with 17 years of experience in Chicago, New York, and in the touring market. In 2015, he founded Lotus Theatricals - the publisher of Performink, and an independent commercial producing company - with Abigail Trabue.