Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Stories From Writing Class

Hotel employee Thomas Lee:
Do Hotels survive without me?
by Bolor Ider

  On 18th September, some students of Mr. Eric`s class from University of Potomac interviewed a few protesters on the street at Hilton on Michigan Ave.
 1st interviewee--- Leisure and hospitality jobs, which account for nearly 10 percent of employment in Illinois and across the Midwest, are disproportionately filled by immigrants, who not only wash dishes and clean hotel rooms but also do the most hard labor jobs, according to the report, released Thursday and the last in a series.

  We can see the positive effects of immigration in the State of Illinois. Research showed that immigrants living in Chicago help grow the hospitality industry by allowing native-born workers to specialize in communication-intensive jobs like managerial positions, while immigrants often require more manual labor. A verified anonymous immigrant says he joined the union because he needed a secure job, even if he pays an annual member fee of 20% plus. From here, he believes his co-workers need to have sufficient healthcare coverage for their lives. He also mentioned that he is protesting for his immigrant co-workers, they`ve been working in the field for their whole lives, it`s their right to fight for where they feel they have been wronged.

  2nd interviewee---Christine, a house attendant at the Hilton Hotel: “...I still need my diabetes medication when I’m laid off. Nobody should lose their health benefits just because it’s cold out, doesn`t matter where you from and how the business went slow.” They believe that they work them like dogs when it`s busy and then kick them to the curb in the winter. Companies are hiring temporary workers during the glooming business season to avoid full time employee benefits. But we suffer from it, we do more labors while those temporary workers are not trained.
Let`s just focus on the healthcare. After about a week of negotiations, a strike was called to secure health insurance for hotel staff that are laid off in winter when business is slower. Employees say they’ve had enough of management eliminating positions in the winter and piling more work on the staff that’s left
3rd interviewee---Wilson, non-union member security worker at Hilton Chicago believes workers need a right to protest even without involving Union. It`s good some of us to fight for having a good life, however, the union taking money from its members but asking workers to be on strike themselves instead of finding a way to do the negotiation in a way that benefit both parts. “They had no choice, but to protest” said by Wilson. They can`t apply to County Care, because they are at the right above the line of Medicaid requirement, but they are not wealthy enough to afford high insurance costs.

Didn`t they know their healthcare policy when signed the contract with their employers?
---Some of them are known, while some are not with their education or because their lack of attention on this section of the contract. Indeed, the contact has already ended this year August. Workers didn`t want to keep the previous contract, they want change! They believe everything has to be changed at least little if economy also changes. On this, one of the worker stated that he is getting the same salary, but expenses are getting increased.


Being the U.S. Citizen is a dream for all immigrants. I moved to the U.S. in 2012 to pursue a better life. I attended school to get my english better. Fall semester in 2015 was the first time I heard about MAVNI program. MAVNI (Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest) is a program for non-immigrants to join U.S. military with special language skill. The Defense Department promises us to expedite citizenship once we finish Basic Combat Training. So, I enlisted in U.S. Army Reserve with a hope to be a part of this amazing country. Unfortunately, this program was shut down and slowed down the process. I and the other 5,000 MAVNIs got an effect of it. Nobody has gotten a ship date for their BCT. I have been serving as a U.S. military for 2 year and a half. I have been going for pre-basic training in my future military unit every month for 2 years to learn new things. Now, I am still waiting for my ship date to become a real U.S. Army. I am very proud to join U.S. military and protect this great nation. My wish is that my dream will become true soon.

- SPC Athikkamasakul, Adirek

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bloody Haymarket: Sweat and Tears

When a mother visits her dying son, old wounds from childhood are unearthed; wounds that can’t easily be healed. The mother is Lucy Parsons, fierce lifelong defender of the working class. We follow Albert Parsons Jr., whose father was the face of the 1880's Chicago labor movement and was hanged for it, as he spends his final days in a tuberculosis sanitarium outside Chicago. Through young Albert’s eyes we witness the grizzly events unfold that was to become known as the Haymarket Square Riot.

On May 4, 1886, Chicago was rocked by the first dynamite bomb thrown in America, America’s first red scare, and the first time people were tried for conspiracy to commit murder without ever having caught the bomb thrower. 

Visit/ Volunteer/ Donate:


Hi family, friends and fans, thanks for coming to our page!  Our team has been passionately working on this project, and we are now in the last push of preproduction where we need your help to get this film finished and submitted to festivals

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Bloody Haymarket: Sweat and Tears is written and directed by Eric Coleman, David McGrath and Wayne Kupferer with the help of Jenny Miller, Executive Producer.

Rounding out the cast is the illustrious Tonya Simmons as Lucy Parsons, the powerful Eric K. Roberts as Albert Parsons Jr., and the sensational Peter Murray as Albert Parsons Sr.

Joining us on this project is the brilliant set designer James Scalfani, original music composed by Christopher Doucet, and editing/ graphics by Joe Vecchio.

The following items are needed to make this project come to fruition: props, shooting permits, makeup and visual effects, lighting and sound equipment, costumes of the era, film festival submission fees and other costly things I’m certainly forgetting.

I am so thankful and eager for you to join us as we relive this part of Chicago history all should know. With a generous donation of $20 you will receive a DVD copy of the film, $50 gets you a DVD and t-shirt and $100 gets you a DVD, t-shirt, and a mention in the credits.

Thank you for helping us bring their throttled voices back to life!

The original theatrical production upon which the short film is based:

Friday, May 4, 2018

Trump Radio One

the Flabby Hoffman Radio Extravagonzo!

Stay tuned:

Episode #2: Broadcast from Alcatraz
Episode #3  Broadcast from make-shift raft in the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by sharks
Episode #4  Broadcast from the belly of a blue whale
Episode #5  The gang gets spit up on a beach in Mexico, which Trump thinks is Oz
(wow, the yellow brick road sure is littered with a lot of trash)
Episode #6  Scaling the Border Wall

Program Highlight:  PRANK CALLS!

Listen LIVE every Saturday between 1pm and 4pm Chicago time on Que4 radio:

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Character Assassination of Donald Trump

The show came together in a slip-shod, frenzied,  Buddhist happy accident kind of way. The idea was had while driving around delivering pizzas; Trump's impeachment Trial as a variety show.  The first Friday of the month Wicker Park's historic Flat Iron Building has an open house. And it was there, at this Artists' Colony that we bumped into Anthony Moseley, the Big Wig of Collaboraction Theater. Me and the Great Dave McGrath pitched Anthony on a Trump variety show and he informed us that they had nothing slated for December and that we should shoot him on over a script. Some weeks later the green light given, the space secured, and now is was up to me, Dave, and Jenny Miller to round up talent. I've had enough of actors, seems all young actors care about is money. So we began recruiting characters and assorted mutants from the Mutiny; a local dive bar which hosts a slew of open mic nights hosted by some incredibly talented comics. A couple script run throughs and we were ready to unleash the Hambach! By the way, if you're in the neighborhood, you really must check out the Mutiny's Heckle Mic Friday night... it's evolving and becoming sentient...
Left to right / top to bottom: Trump, Michael Johnson (Duke), Hambach (the Grey Fux), Jenny Miller (Elizabeth Warren), Elaine Orion (Lindsey Graham), Sean Schellhamer (Chuck Schumer), Dan Garcia (Al Franken), John Dolder (Orrin Hatch).

Opening night was a riot. Riding high on adrenaline we were gearing up for the next when the email was received. It was Patti the pole dancer, the gal that had recruited all the Burlesque dancers from upcoming shows, with a bombshell. They were backing out. Something about not having read the script, not bothering to listen to song, ‘but at the amount we are being paid, being uncomfortable with the subject matter’, on and on. No problem, we just had to scramble to find one Belly Dancer to replace three sub-par Burlesque dancers at $50 bucks a pop. #metwothree

There was a critic there opening night, Jack Helbig. The audience, albeit packed with friends, loved the show. ‘It checked a lot of boxes,’ as Elaine put it. Yet when the review surfaced the following Wednesday we were told to pack it in by a saddo who completely discounted the audience’s take. 

I was livid. I was gonna chip golf balls (actual ping-pong balls) at the side of the (Un)Reader(able) building and storm the CPU dressed as Trump and demand to speak to this Hel(of)big(loser) with cameras rolling. That didn’t happen but we got back our mojo by the third show. The show where Michael Johnson wore his psychedelic Christmas hat. That was the best show; however, according to meta-physics, it couldn’t be recorded. 


It's going to be huge. Whether you are hoping for it or dreading it, everyone can agree that if Trump gets impeached, the trial will be one tremendously wild ride. Politicians and the media will make it a circus larger than Cirque du Soliel. This wacky satirical comedy turns that pending circus into a variety show complete with music, magic and burlesque. This is one jury duty you won't want to be excused from. You can bear witness to The Character Assassination of Donald Trump at Collaboraction Theatre.

There’s always a little melancholy at the end of a run. The show’s over, the family disbands, and the shared purpose dissipates. Ah well. See ya at the next show! If I haven't been blackballed by the entire Chicago theater community. Ha Ha

America's Great Again!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Man Who Couldn't Cry

The Musical History Event Tragic-Dramedy
(not to be confused with 'The View Upstairs' or 'The Boys Upstairs' or 'Upstairs Upstairs with Views of Boys' which may or may not exist)

Pride Arts Theater, CHICAGO - The red door opened unleashing a plume of white smoke directly at
Wayne Kupferer's chest, while fog danced and lapped at his feet.

“Just like that. You have to hold the smaller fog machine level if you want it to really blast.” I said turning to our production assistant Rico.

Upstairs the Musical was just days from opening and we had to get the backdraft effect just right. After all, the play is about a gay bar fire in 1973 New Orleans in which 32 people lost their lives. They never caught, nor did the cops try to catch the arsonist.

Throughout this production I’ve alternately felt like both Ship Captain and Oswaldesque Patsy. I reckon it’s on account of this being the first play I didn’t write or take part in writing. Also it’s my first Musical. A Rock Opera , really. Bursting at the seams with 16 songs. Luckily there has been an incredible support staff in place around me; Stage Manager Kirby Gibson, Technical Director Wayne Kupferer, Choreographer Joshua Heinlein, a savvy Producer/Set Designer/Costume Getter Gary Trick, and Byron Allen; an ex Circus performer who traveled with Barnum and Bailey Circus. Even got Dan McKearnan of Bloody Haymarket fame out of retirement for this one. Dan’s the dude who used to smack the lighting console at the Irish American Heritage Center to get the Leko stage lamps to come on.

I remember sitting with Nick Arceo, who plays George the piano player and devising what needed to be judicially cut. The songs were all too long and the last three songs in a row seemed a slow drag to the finish line. Speed up the tempo I knew, but other words like vamp and Libretto were picked up along the way.

We had been fighting a running war since the beginning of this thing, like Native-American taking pot shots at the U.S. Calvary from trees. We had had a devil of a time getting Upstairs fully cast, Wayne Self’s hastily assembled script was the hybrid of 2 previous versions, and we lost the LED lights for 2 days in TECH WEEK until Manny found the wire hanging from the grid. And having a Theater Manager, David ‘slumlord’ Zak, working against us didn’t help the situation.

Opening night came, the house more than half full, and the show went off better than any of us expected. The thought was murmured that we might have a hit play on our hands. A big play about big people. Titans really, who refused to live in fear. Here is Buddy the bartender with his boyfriend Adam.

Right out the gate we got 2 positive reviews...



Then came the cynics, the loveless, the doomed. 
Two sour grapes tried to derail our play and murder the Upstairs Lounge’s victims a second time, in addition to massacring 8 actors, 4 musicians, and 5 crew members in the process.



But then again, what do the critics know...

So here we stand on a precipice of mixed reviews and lack-luster ticket sales and the show is supposed to run until November 26th . You want a call to action? Here it is; come see the show. Show plays at 4139 N. Broadway, Friday & Saturday at 7:30, Sunday matinee at 2pm. Tell your friends to see the show. Even tell your grandma to see the show (there’s one simulated blowjob scene but I’m pretty sure she can handle it).

This is do or die, folks.

And I swear to god, if my worst ideas come true, then the next play will be about a critic. A nasty little fucker who, with a few glib paragraphs, destroys a production; months and months of hard work. To wipe away all the blood, sweat, and tears with a couple strokes of a keyboard. In a fit of Jealousy and sexually repression. In the final scene the destitute Director, with his last few dollars, buys a gallon of gasoline, finds where this custodian of culture lives, and burns the shit-heads house to the ground. Then launches a Broadway hit based on the story. Because, the story behind the story is always more interesting than the story.

All Legs to be Broken.

Copy and distribute worldwide....

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Shooooow!

Special Thanks to Sal, Manny, Pam, Max Worthington, Tristian Moffat, Jak Frost, Michael Ian Sachs, Erin the Belly Dancer, Tammy, Gavin, John, Jake, Bill, Anthony, Michelle, David, Ricky, Seamus O'Blivion, and all the people who showed up!