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At Collaboraction Theatre, MSLCE Student John Hounihan Sees the Intersection of Arts and Administration Firsthand

By John Hounihan

Collaboraction Theatre is a mid-size theatre in Wicker Park with a unique take on art and politics: Collaboraction inspires social change through original devised theatre and community engagement that cultivates knowledge, dialogue, and action around Chicago’s most critical social issues.

Collaboraction Theatre, along with the for hire and studio space arms of the organization, makes for a dynamic and flexible organization with very interesting day to day operations. So interesting that it makes for a great spot for a summer internship.

Collaboraction’s main summer project is the PEACEBOOK festival, a world premiere collection of 24 works that begins at the Goodman Theatre, and then tours the Chicago parks district. The festival focuses on peace and social justice in Chicago, and has received national acclaim from organizations such as the New York Times.

My day to day responsibilities at Collaboraction have been incredibly varied. When I took the job, the plan was for me to work closely with the artistic director and director of development to assist with Peacebook. I was promised a hands-on, rich experience at the intersection of the artistic and administrative aspects of managing a theatre.

What I got was true to that promise, perhaps more so than Collaboraction could have imagined during my interview. Right before my arrival, the organization began a search for a managing director, after their previous director of development decided to part ways with the organization. This has made for a very interesting set of responsibilities for Collaboraction’s first graduate student intern. I have taken a role in helping manage the other interns. I have sat in on conversations in artistic and marketing strategy, and I have helped move along the search for Collaboraction’s next managing director.

Everything I do revolves around that artistic/administrative intersection, and there is never a day where I don’t learn something new. Flexibility, communication, and a ‘yes and’ attitude are required assets in my role here, and I cannot wait to see what adventures my next two months bring.

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