Posted: 3/12/2012

At the invitation of Jeff Bargar, Assistant Superintendent of Programs at the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles, IL (IYC-St. C), Storycatchers Theatre has expanded its Temporary LockDown (TLD) program for court-involved young men to include an ensemble at that facility. Bargar recognized the success of the company's program model while he was the Superintendent at IYC- Warrenville; he saw the value it could bring to the St. Charles facility. The original TLD program serves young men detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (CCJTDC). Both programs provide the boys an opportunity to write their own stories, and then collaborate with each other and professional teaching artists to turn those stories into original one-act musicals.

The St. Charles ensemble will present its first staged-reading of works-in-progress on Sunday April 1, 2012. Following a year of story-and song-writing workshops, as well as two staged readings, the CCJTDC ensemble is rehearsing WHEN THE FIRE GROWS COLD, an original TLD musical, for presentations on April 21 and 22, 2012. Friends of Storycatchers are welcome to attend both productions. Reservations are required; those can be made through the company website: www.storycatcherstheatre.org.

With the addition of the St. Charles program, Storycatchers has expanded its teaching ensemble. Alyssa Sorresso, veteran Storycatchers Program Manager and Teaching Actor, returned to Storycatchers following a year abroad to serve as the Lead Artist for the program. Joining her in this new venture are Program Manager Ethan Ucker and Teaching Apprentice Leslie Newcorn.

Sorresso has a newly minted Master of Applied Drama from the prestigious University of London Central School of Speech and Drama. "I studied many different theories relating to applied theatre, becoming specifically interested in queer feminists such as Judith Butler and bell hooks (intentionally uncapitalized), both of whom I drew upon heavily for my dissertation," Sorresso recalled; "I'm happy to be back in Chicago, with Storycatchers, and for the opportunity to practice my skills and knowledge."

Chris Terry, writer and musician, joins long-time Storycatchers Program Manager Ozivell Ecford as a Teaching Artist with the CCJTDC program. Terry comes to Storycatchers from Columbia College Chicago, where he is a Fiction Writing Master of Fine Art candidate. Storycatchers audiences may remember Terry from his role as Saul Tan in the November 2011Fabulous Females production of the TALE OF A THOUSAND DOLLS AND ONE GIRL. "I'm having a great time," commented Terry. "My writing is often based on true stories, so it's very inspiring to see what the guys do with their own raw material. And, it's fulfilling to use my skills while learning new ones." In addition to his writing experience, Terry is a skilled drummer and guitarist. He spent his late teens and early twenties touring North America and Europe as a punk singer.

All TLD programs are supported by a generous matching grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), through the RWJF Local Funding Partnerships program entitled Peaceful Pathways: Reducing Exposure to Violence. TLD local funding partners include generous individual donors, as well as the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; Michael Reese Health Trust; and the Woods Fund of Chicago. The CCJTCC program is also supported by a grant through the Arts Infusion Initiative of the Chicago Community Trust.