Over My Dead Body

“St. Johannes Cemetery before relocation” Source: George Thompson, Chicago Tribune[1]

Despite the legal defeats and the success by the City of Chicago in taking over the Bensenville properties, the framing of the eminent domain fight in terms of the desecration of the sacred has continued. In 2012 The Waltzing Mechanics, a documentary theater troupe in Chicago, performed Over My Dead Body, a play based on interviews with people involved in the St. Johannes battle.[2] The Waltzing Mechanics themselves have connections to O’Hare airport; the inspiration for their plays comes from one of the troupe members experiences from past work at an O’Hare aircraft repair facility[3] The play ends with a character reflecting on the diaspora of reinterred bodies from the St. Johannes Cemetery:

JUNE: I guess people who had been all buried in one place—theyʼre now kind of scattered. Thatʼs kind of sad, but then again, I guess what difference does it make? You know. Theyʼre bodies—theyʼre bodies that, you know—theyʼre not even there anymore. But I guess itʼs kind of sad that there was this old German cemetery that had been there for so many years. And now, you know, it just no longer is.

[As the lights fade, we hear the airliner engine spool up to full throttle. Lights upon the stage and behind the upstage scrim reveal the forced perspective of a runway. As the takeoff roll accelerates, the LIVING and the DEAD lean slightly back in their seats. The sound of the aircraft fades to a distantly departing flight as the runway lights dim to BLACKOUT. END OF PLAY.][4]

Source: Waltzing Mechanics

[1] George Thompson, Chicago Tribune Photograph in Geoffrey Johnson, “Dead Reckoning,” Chicago Magazine. October 5, 2009. http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/October-2009/OHare-Expansion-Stalled-by-St-Johannes-Cemetery/. Accessed March 12, 2016.

[2] Kerry Reid, “Remembrance versus O’Hare runways in ‘Over My Dead Body,’” Chicago Tribune. December 12, 2012. http://www.chicagotribune.com/ct-ott-1214-on-the-fringe-20121212-story.html Accessed March 12, 2016.

[3] Waltzing Mechanics Website. http://www.waltzingmechanics.org/info/  Accessed March 16, 2016.  

[4] Waltzing Mechanics Theater. Over My Dead Body. Play adapted from original interviews by Thomas Murray and the Waltzing Mechanics.