The Event: “The Soul” is a “Powerful Woman,” or a group of powerful women as the one-night only benefit of the Black Ensemble Theater in Chicago proved on May 3.
More than 150 supporters of the theater came to see founder/executive director Jackie Taylor’s moving production featuring U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Illinois Sen. Mattie Hunter, Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tishdahl and Urban League President Andrea Zopp perform alongside the company’s regular performers.
Founded by Taylor in 1976, Black Ensemble Theater has presented more than 100 productions and employs more than 5,000 artists.
Cause Célèbre: Schakowsky acted the role of reverend/rabbi/spiritual leader to the other women performers. “I love the Black Ensemble Theater,” said Schakowsky. “I think this is a Chicago treasure and… all these brave women who are out here today to have a good time on behalf of the Black Ensemble Theater are having so much fun.”
Calling her performance ‘far out of the box,’ Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tishdahl said: “We have a lot of great theaters in Evanston but we are lucky to have this great theater so close by.”
The list of women leaders was a formidable one, to be sure, replete with business and political heads including Women’s Business Development Center founder Hedy Ratner, Dentons U.S. partner Natalie Spears and Whitaker Kinne Group president and CEO Dr. Cheryl Whitaker, among others.
“Everyone ought to take advantage of this amazing treasure of Chicago,” said Schakowsky. “The plays that they do, the professionalism they have, how much fun and music; it’s just a fabulous place to come and I want to encourage people to support and enjoy (Black Ensemble Theater).”
Bottom Line: The event raised $45,000 dollars in support of Black Ensemble Theater’s mission to eradicate racism through theater arts.