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Illinois Safe Schools Alliance brings 'Da Noise'
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Vern Hester
2017-05-01

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On April 24, The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, with the participation of The Morten Group, presented "Bring in 'Da Funk, Bring in 'Da Noise," a fundraiser and variety show celebrating the close of The National Day of Silence. The event, held at The Uptown Underground, also marked the 10th anniversary of the alliance and featured a variety show and raffle.

The National Day of Silence is a day of action in which students across the county vow quietly protest to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment in schools. In many communities, the Day of Silence is followed by a festive Night of Noise that celebrates the dignity, value and worth of people of every gender and orientation. The program for the show stated, "The evening's performances are dedicated to all LGBTQ+ youth who are leading the way with resilience and courage."

Illinois Safe School Alliance Executive Director Owen Daniel-McCarter made opening remarks before introducing Lambda National Board member Roderick Hawkins as the emcee.

The first half of the show got off to a lively start with The Tap Crew, a six-person band of tap dancers led by Reggio McLaughlin who performed as young poet Aisha June read Adam Gottlieb's "The Drumbeat." Alliance youth member Syd Bakal performed two self-penned songs—"In Love" and "Alone Not Lonely"—before Erin Island, Christopher Lotito and Holly Lambert from GayCo Productions performed a series of comedic vignettes. Vocalist Jace Smith gave Leon Bridges' "Brown-Skinned Girl" and Tracy Chapman's "Talking About a Revolution" passionate readings as the portion of the show was closed by another performance by The Tap Crew.

After a brief intermission, the raffle started the evening on a rowdy course as the audience got increasingly more vocal and involved. The "gayest Alanis Morrissette tribute band you ever heard of," The You F@#cking Oughta Know Band, then ripped through hard-rocking versions of "Jagged Little Pill" and "You Oughta Know." Celebrated poet/performance artist Bea Cordelia recited two original poems and was then followed by Richard Streetman's renditions of Brenda Russell's "Get Here" and Etta James' "At Last." Streetman's performances clearly moved the audience while the vocally orchestrated, choreographed and confrontational reading of the award-winning poem "Pussy Grabs Back" by The Goodman Theater Youth Ensemble ( Nuala Kalensky, Aisha June, Damayanti Wallace, and Eryn Burnett ) had the packed crowd screaming and on its feet.

Raffle prizes and support for "Bring in 'Da Noise" was provided by The Goodman Theater, Early to Bed, Crew, Vince the Baker, The Morten Group, Mariano's Fresh Market, and The Joffrey Ballet.

Upcoming Alliance events include group participation in Proud to Run on June 24 and the Illinois Safe School Alliance Action Camp, to be held Aug. 7-11.


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