A storefront theater takes action against violence in Chicago. We have the story from Collaboraction on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.
We spoke with Victoria Blade, an actress and songwriter from Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology. Read our Q&A below.
The song “Let Hope Rise,” which is now prominently featured in Crime Scene, was written by you for your audition. Tell us about that.
When I saw the posting for Crime Scene, I was looking to think outside the box with my career. The posting asked for a one-minute theatrical piece. So instead of making up some monologue, I wrote a song. It’s something I’ve been doing a lot of.
I was driving home the night before thinking, what am I going to write about? I don’t know anything about crime in Chicago. I thought, what would my prayer be for this issue in the city? “Let hope rise” came into my head. I formed the chorus driving home. I did research on labels people use to describe different parts of the city and found the name “Terror Town.” I read some stories about the area and decided to write the song about it.
Watch Victoria Blade perform "Let Hope Rise" in this web extra video:
What have you been able to bring to the table in Crime Scene?
The song has been my major contribution to this project. It hit a chord with the director, Anthony Moseley, and it resonated with him. It helped inspire him. I think everyone can agree that hope is very powerful.
What are you trying to accomplish with the play?
I think our vision for this project is to wake people up to the issues. I can only speak for myself, but I lack of firsthand experience of crime in this city. People who don’t understand the problem can walk around with blinders on. This piece exposes the issues. It doesn’t offer a succinct solution, but it stirs up the issue.
I hope people leave a little more knowledgeable than they were before. I want them to know that there’s a huge issue at stake in this city, that it’s not OK for this to be the norm. We want to break the apathy.
Did the play break your own apathy?
It certainly did. I went from being totally ignorant of the facts and the state of the city to using my talents to work on this project, which was my first step. What can I bring to the table? I can use these talents to serve the community. I would love for people to walk away thinking about their strengths, and how they can use them to serve and help the city.
Is there any true hope for momentous change when this city has been dealing with a high murder rate for decades?
I think there’s a lot of hope. For every crime here, there are philanthropists dedicated to serving underprivileged youth and gang members. There’s just as much good as bad. I think if we just get enough people stirred up enough, there’s nothing that can stop us from overpowering the bad. Hope is more powerful than despair.
Interview has been condensed and edited.