An interview with Kari Betton, Music Director and Composer, Storycatchers Theatre
Conducted by Tory Davidson, Community Engagement Manager, Storycatchers Theatre
In March, Steppenwolf Theatre’s young adult production of The Burn toured to the juvenile justice facilities in which Storycatchers works. In addition to watching the performances, youth were involved in workshops with Steppenwolf and Storycatchers teaching artists. This created opportunities for youth living in all three facilities to participate in discussions about the themes and ideas in the play. I sat down with Kari Betton, a music director and composer for Storycatchers and a teaching artist for Steppenwolf, to learn more.
Written by Rachel Hauben Combs, Development Director
A wise Chicago theatre artist once said that and it has never been truer. Today, both artistic endeavors and social justice causes are increasingly dependent on individual donors.
In 2016, our very own “Temporary Lockdown” (TLD) program at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center was nearly a casualty of the not-for-profit funding crisis. For years, a single foundation had provided the bulk of TLD’s program budget. When that dedicated funder shifted its strategy and focus, Storycatchers faced an excruciating choice: whether to eliminate the program for fiscal year 2017/2018. [Read more…]
Written by Aimee Stahlberg, Strategy and Process Manager Changing Voices
“How can I get me some real power?” That’s the ending line of Storycatchers Theatre’s current Changing Voices production. After touring for several months, members of the Changing Voices Ensemble recently discussed ways they might be able to obtain the power that the characters in their stories so desperately desire. Changing Voices Ensemble members agreed that their voices and what they share can change how they are seen and how their stories are understood. “Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the mistakes I’ve made and forget about all the difficult things I’ve had to overcome,” Deshawn W. recently shared with an audience.
I have always believed in the power of stories to transform people. Storycatchers Theatre embodies this belief by providing young people with the tools they need to express themselves, change, and grow; this mission is the reason I joined the organization in July 2016 as Executive Director. One thing I have learned is the importance of a committed Board of Directors – something that Storycatchers is so lucky to have.
Today, I’d like to share with all of our friends what our Board means to us. As a result of their expertise, ideas, and passion, we have seen our growth nearly double in just two years’ time. The Artistic and Administrative team joins me in thanking each member of our incredible Board for their enduring support, dedication and strategic vision.
Written by Meade Palidofsky, Founder and Artistic Director
When I direct rehearsals at Warrenville every fall, I am immersed in the adolescent energy and off-stage drama around me. Overhearing a range of comments – from bursts of encouragement to sharper exchanges – I remember that often, the most challenging part of being in a show is allowing yourself to trust the whole group, to create an ensemble larger and stronger than your clique.
A dynamic partnership with Steppenwolf Theatre is underway, as Storycatchers Teaching Artists and the Changing Voices Ensemble prepare for the March 2017 tour of the Steppenwolf for Young Adults (SYA) production of Monster. The play, directed by Hallie Gordon and adapted by Aaron Carter from Walter Dean Myer’s best-selling young adult novel, will tour to IYC-Warrenville, IYC-Chicago, and the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, offering a total of eight performances within the three residential facilities. [Read more…]
I have spent a great deal of time lately thinking about what we have accomplished as a company — the multitude of young people who have benefited from our storytelling and team-building process during the last 32, now going on 33, years. [Read more…]
The residents at the Illinois Youth Center (IYC) – Warrenville call Storycatchers Theatre’s fall musical the “Big Show” – and for good reason. The production elements are more elaborate than for the other three performances that occur throughout the year at IYC-Warrenville. The actors wear costumes, use props, and perform under traditional stage lighting on a specially-built raised stage for audiences ranging from 50 to 100 people. Additionally, for the past six years, Warrenville youth perform musical numbers with accompaniment from a pit band, consisting of Civic Fellows of the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The sheer number of people who come together to make this show happen, from IYC-Warrenville staff and residents, Storycatchers, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and other organizations, qualify this show as “big.”
Lamar bounds into the classroom, throwing his arms wide open and grinning ear to ear.
“How ya’ll BEEN!!!”
Lamar’s excitement mirrors our own as Storycatchers’ Temporary Lockdown Ensemble at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center begins a new season.