Past Event

Written Off?: A Staged Reading and Discussion of the Play, SHELTER/CHICAGO

SHELTER/CHICAGO is a new play that stars homeless Chicagoans, homeless shelter staff, students, and journalists to reveal the real stories of the people living in our streets. Using the power of theater, it challenges audiences to understand the issue of homelessness beyond what we see in the newspapers.

“Written Off?” will feature a staged reading of SHELTER/CHICAGO, followed by a thoughtful discussion moderated with the cast and audience by Laura Washington, Chicago Sun-Times columnist and ABC 7-Chicago Political Analyst. We seek to explore what roles and responsibilities the media has in reporting on homelessness, and how we as the public can better understand the plight of people we may so easily write off in our society.

SHELTER/CHICAGO draws inspiration by the “Living Newspapers” of the 1930’s, a WPA Federal Theater Project where journalists and theater artists brought to life dynamic, dramatized presentations of current events, challenging citizens to wrestle with the important national issues in a local context.

Take part in an exciting 21st century Living Newspaper project that shares the real stories of the men, women, and children living in our streets.

This event is free and open to the public. However, registration is required and can be made online.

Speaker Profiles:

  • Lisa DiFranza, founded The Living News Project, and is the director of SHELTER/CHICAGO is its “first edition.” For five years, Lisa worked in the Drama Division of The Juilliard School in New York. She is a theater director with a masters degree in theology and the Arts, and is a Senior Lecturer at Columbia College Chicago.
  • Richard Thompson joined The Living News Project two years ago, when he was homeless. Now housed and in school, Richard is a part of the project’s writing team, and the cast for SHELTER/CHICAGO.
  • Mark Brown, a local news columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times since 2000, writes about everything from political corruption, the homeless and family life. Roger Ebert once called him the “best local columnist since Mike Royko,” and Chicago Magazine recognized Brown in its “Best of Chicago.”
  • Sandra Ramsey is Executive Director of Cornerstone Community Outreach, a non-profit created to raise the quality of life for low-income residents of Chicago through social, education and economic development programs including the feeding and sheltering of the homeless.
  • Manya Brachear Pashman is the Chicago Tribune’s award-winning religion reporter. She is a journalist consultant to SHELTER/CHICAGO.

View clips from readings of The Living News Project’s SHELTER/CHICAGO play.

This event, made possible in part by the McCormick Foundation’s “Why News Matters Initiative”, is presented as part of The Public Square’s Media Remix conversation series and The Collaborative City, programs of the Illinois Humanities Council. It is done in partnership with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and co-sponsored by Lisa DiFranza of The Living News Project
Publicity Partner: Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

We also want to thank CAN TV for covering this event for cable and online viewers. This program is being cablecast live on CAN TV channel 27and is streaming live at



If you need a sign interpreter or require other arrangements to fully participate, please call 312.422.5580 at least 72 hours prior to the event. For parking locations near the facility, please visit