Roller derby play honors Uptown roots

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A play inspired by the roller derby has its world premiere at an Uptown theatre on Monday night.

It's a show about women who find their strength in a game that was created in Chicago.

The show, called "For Love of - or the Roller Derby Play," was written by Gina Femia. Femia wrote the story about young women finding their lives and hearts transformed by a game for of fire and zeal. The cast spent time with Chicago's Windy City Rollers.

"If you watch any interview of a Roller Derby Player you will hear again and again how roller derby turned them from a sometimes meek, apologetic person into a strong woman, someone who is comfortable and confident in their own skin," said director Rachel Edwards Harvith.

The cast isn't on skates, but simulates action with choreography.

"A lot of the dance moves we have we've taken inspiration from the different Roller Derby moves because I find that you take a move that looks violent and you change its tempo and suddenly it becomes poetic and even beautiful," said Harvith.

Just a few block away from where the production is happening is a site that is important in the Chicago Roller Derby history. Roller Derby was invented in 1935 by Leo Seltzer at the Arcadia Ballroom and roller rink in Uptown.

Modern Roller Derby women inspire the cast.

"Some are nurses, some work at foot locker, doing all these different things and come together to empower each other to go and take ownership of their lives," said actor Alex Dauphin.
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