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Chicago TYA

A series that explores youth ensembles in Chicagoland, the communities that encourage them, and how young people create theatre for young people.

Ahead of the Curve
Essay

Ahead of the Curve

Albany Park Theater Project and Third Rail Project's Learning Curve

5 May 2015

In her latest installation, Morgan Greene rediscovers high school through Albany Park Theater Project’s immersive experience Learning Curve.

The cast of Take it From Me—Violence Just Don’t Understand.
It Takes a (Tofu Chitlin’) Circuit
Essay

It Takes a (Tofu Chitlin’) Circuit

Defining Community in Youth Theater

8 November 2014

Sydney Chatman is the creator and director of The Tofu Chitlin’ Circuit, a community and youth ensemble training collective based in Chicago’s South Side. Before creating TCC, Chatman worked on productions from Chicago to Broadway, while also teaching at the University of Chicago Charter School. When students she once taught as kindergarteners came to her as teens and said, “Can you train and teach me?” she said, “Yes.”

A chalkboard drawing.
Youth on Youth
Essay

Youth on Youth

Free Street Theater’s Youth Ensemble and The Young Fugitives

12 September 2014

When it was founded in 1969, Free Street Theater (FST) was one of Chicago’s first racially integrated ensembles and since its inception has taken its art and activism to the streets, making theater for, with, and by the people. When I asked about the art they’d like to create, Patches summed it up: “We’re already making it.”

Wall in the AFYT rehearsal space.
About Face Youth Theatre
Essay

About Face Youth Theatre

Checking, Expanding, and Activating Boxes

28 July 2014

In About Face Youth Theatre’s rehearsal space, there is a cluster of post-it notes on the wall titled “Where I Started.” The ensemble’s first impressions range from “not being satisfied” to “ready to just do something” to “oblivion.” These notes relate to the process of AFYT’s current play, Checking Boxes.

Chicago’s Theater By, With, and For Young Audiences
Essay

Chicago’s Theater By, With, and For Young Audiences

Looking Back and Moving Forward

12 July 2014

The TYA branch of theater for, by and with young people offers a rare intersection of authorship, representation and inverted hierarchies. When the lack of youth voices in the creation of theater for youth is accepted as normal, a power structure thrives that creates theater by, with and pleasing to adults. What happens when youth write, perform and even produce their own work, causing the usual gatekeepers to take a backseat?

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