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Highland to present ‘Jane Addams Festival of New Plays’

Highland Community College Theatre Arts program presents “Jane Addams Festival of New Plays,” with performances March 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Ferguson Fine Arts Center Theatre, 2998 W. Pearl City Rd., Freeport, Ill.

The evening will consist of three 10-minute plays and one act, from “Bread and Peace,” adapted from the writings of Jane Addams by Russell Vandenbroucke, former Artistic Director of Chicago’s Northlight Theatre.

Plays produced as part of the festival are “Jane and Leo,” by Amy Merrill, “Four Minutes” by Patricia Davis, “Lockdown Love” by Deborah Jiang-Stein, and “Bread and Peace.”

Laura Early, director and Theatre Arts instructor, said the college received more than 60, ten-minute play submissions from professional playwrights from across the United States and two counties. A committee of readers evaluated the plays and selected those included in the festival of plays.

Playwright Russell Vandenbroucke (Bread and Peace) states “I’ve wanted to write a play about Jane Addams surrounded by a chorus of children since I ran a theatre in Chicago decades ago. Addams appeals to my ideas and ideals about the shared humanity among all people and, too, of the imperative of working for peace among them.  We never achieve our dreams merely by wishing them so. They become real through persistent effort that Addams models for all of us.”

Vandenbroucke earned his D.F.A. from Yale and worked at professional theatres in New Haven, Los Angeles, and St. Louis. He was Artistic Director of Northlight Theatre in Chicago for eleven seasons.

Playwright Deborah Jiang-Stein (Lockdown Love) is the founder of the “unPrison Project,” a nonprofit working to empower and inspire incarcerated women and girls with tools for life skills and mentoring. She’s the author of the memoir “Prison Baby,” and in 2017 was a L’Oréal Woman of Worth award winner.

Playwright Amy Merrill (Jane and Leo) is a Boston-area playwright and producer. Merrill’s play is about Jane Addams’ 1896 trip to Russia to visit Leo Tolstoy.

Playwright Patricia Davis (Four Minutes) was a 2016 fellow in Arena Stage’s play development program in Washington, D.C. Davis’ plays have been produced at the Kennedy Center’s Page-to-Stage Festival, Blunt Objects Theater’s Bachannalia Festival, the Kathy Rasmussen Theater’s Mythical Creatures Festival, and the Feisty Women Festival in New York.

Jane Addams was a Stephenson County native and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Founder of Chicago’s Hull House, Addams is considered one of the leaders in the field of social work. The plays produced for the festival are based on the life, writings, and work of Jane Addams.

Tickets are $10 for adults; $8 for seniors and $6 for students. There is a $2 transaction fee for every ticket purchased. To purchase tickets through the box office, call 815-599-3718 or visit