Lake Forest Academy is excited to welcome a number of artists, actors, and authors to campus this spring for the Bird Artist Series. The opening lineup features two authors, an actor, and a traveling theater company with additional artists expected to join.
The first event in this year's Bird Artist Series is a community presentation with Sam Mihara. Mihara visits LFA’s Cressey Center for the Arts on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. He is a second-generation Japanese American (Nisei) born and raised in San Francisco. When World War II broke out, the United States government forced Sam, age nine, and his family to move to the Heart Mountain, Wyoming prison camp. Sam and his family lived for three years in one 20' x 20' room with no utilities, poor food at the start, embarrassing toilets, severe medical problems and cold winter temperatures as low as -28 degrees.
Following a career as a rocket scientist with the Boeing Company, Mihara became a national speaker on the topic of mass injustice in the U.S. Mihara helped in the education and preservation of the Heart Mountain historic prison site in Northwest Wyoming. Since 2014, he has been a board member of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, the non-profit organization that oversees the National Historic Landmark site. In April of 2018, Sam was awarded the prestigious Paul Gagnon Prize as the history educator of the year by the National Council for History Education (NCHE). He blends his presentations on the Japanese-American internment camps with a discussion of the lessons learned from this injustice and how the lessons apply to today’s problems such as immigration and racial issues.
The Bird Artist Series is named after former Lake Forest Academy English teacher Ray Bird. Bird taught English 9, 10, and AP English Literature for 12 years starting in 1995. He taught his students to love literature, to test the boundaries of their imaginative abilities, and to open their minds to ideas both novel and arcane. With a quick wit, abundant gestures, and a limitless supply of energy, Bird captivated his students and instilled a lifelong passion for reading, writing, and creative expression.
Following Mihara’s presentation, actress Chaon Cross visits LFA on Jan. 25 followed by author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah on Feb. 28-29 and the traveling theater company A Crew of Patches on May 9.
Cross is a native of Arkansas, but has lived in Chicago since 2001. Her performances on stage in Chicago include appearances at the Court Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Northlight Theatre and Lyric Opera of Chicago. Regional credits include Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Cleveland Play House, Theater at the Center and American Shakespeare Center. On screen, she has been seen on The Exorcist (FOX), Chicago Fire (NBC), Boss (Starz) and Detroit 187 (ABC) along with film credits including Widows and My Dog Skip.
Adjei-Brenyah is a New York Times-bestselling author of Friday Black and the upcoming highly-anticipated Chain-Gang All-Stars. Originally from Spring Valley, N.Y., his work has appeared or is forthcoming from numerous publications, including the New York Times Book Review, Esquire, Literary Hub, the Paris Review, Guernica, and Longreads. He was selected by Colson Whitehead as one of the National Book Foundation's “5 Under 35” honorees, is the winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for Best First Book and the Aspen Words Literary Prize.
A Crew of Patches Theatre Company was formed in the Autumn of 2003 with a goal of producing first-rate, full-length, First Folio-based Shakespeare for middle and high school students, making them see live classical theatre as an attractive entertainment and help them understand why we are still reading Shakespeare's plays 400 years after his death. The company has performed at over 130 schools in northern Illinois for more than 120,000 students.