Radical Hospitality

Connection, Intimacy, Beauty, Love

by Allyce Torres

Connection, Intimacy, Beauty, love

These are the words that we’ve proposed as topics for our new blog series to span over the next few months. All of them are values we Halcyon-ites hold very firmly. They’re words that are exciting. Evocative. Cool. Awesome.

Except for what the HELL do they actually mean?!

Belileve me, as someone who has been in theatre since I was four, I hear these words a lot. I can give you dictionary definitions, two page interpretations, and even BFA acting-journal-approved explanations of each of these terms. But at the end of the day, that’s all it is. Talk.

I think if you ask most theatre companies, they would say, “Yes, we’re down with love/connection/intimacy/etc.” And I would be hard pressed to find anyone who said otherwise. But the problem is, not many know how to actually walk the talk and actually implement those values into their art and business any further than a superficial level. For an art form that is supposed to be so basically human, it sure can seem elite.    

So, needless to say, as much of a self-proclaimed Bleeding heart as I am, I went into this a little jaded. It was hard for me to see how we as a company would be able to actually achieve what most theatres simply talk about in every level of our business model and artistic practice.

It came time to test it when we had our first Ceyx Performance of the season. During the series, we- as a company- reach out to various artists in the Chicago-land community who have unique and diverse skill sets and ask them to showcase their talents with us for a night. (This time around: Artist Frank Waln and Hoop Dancer Sam Sampson, Improvised Jane Austen, Brothers Lovish and Mahi, and our own Artist in Resident Robert Salazar.)

This was also our first night implementing our new Radical Hospitality Program.

There are lots of super fancy ways to break down Radical Hospitality (Check out the link here to see more about how we do it) but the basic gist is that, at every performance, a set amount of the house will be set aside as free seating to be given out on a first-come first-serve basis and in order to guarantee seating, you can call the box office or purchase them online. Basically, if anyone wants to see a show with us, they can- regardless of financial standing. As a company that firmly believes in Eradicating Borders, this kind of policy makes perfect sense.  I was already standing behind it, but I was completely unprepared for the true effect it would have.

On that Friday night, as I stood helping with concessions and set up, I saw our radical hospitality take life in the diverse (in every sense of the word) faces that flowed into the space. I already knew the performances were going to be DOPE, but the magic and energy that came from the audience was what made the night stellar.

Sitting there, in the theatre filled with performers of differing backgrounds (watching them snap instagram pics together and promoting each other after meeting an hour before), my fellow Halcyonites who worked so hard to get the night together, and a room full of Albany Park teens, Parents on a night out, College students, kids, and several other members from the community- I felt it. I felt all those airy-fairy words come together.

THIS is connection/intimacy/love/beauty not just in our words, but in our practice. For an hour, we were just a group of humans, celebrating, honoring, and entertaining together and it was entirely fueled by the fact that everyone was welcome.

We say we open our doors to everyone, and by implementing radical hospitality into our event programming, we prove and ensure that we really mean it.  

We’re saving a seat for you, each and every one of you- no matter what walk of life you’re from.

And that’s pretty awesome.