Storycatchers Theatre is a youth development arts organization that prepares young people to make thoughtful life choices through the process of writing, producing, and performing original musical theatre inspired by personal stories. Writing and performing arts workshops help youth find their voices, connect to their own life stories, and learn from their peers. Participants express their challenges, life experiences, dreams and aspirations. The process from storytelling to play production enables them to set and achieve goals, link decisions to consequences, and develop a vision for personal success.
In November of 2013, Storycatchers received a NATIONAL ARTS & HUMANITIES YOUTH PROGRAM AWARD in recognition of its work with detained and incarcerated youth. Founder and Artistic Director Meade Palidofsky traveled to Washington DC to accept the award from First Lady Michelle Obama. The National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Awards are an initiative of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). The President’s Committee partners with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to administer the program. Only 12 nonprofits are recognized each year with this award for after-school and out-of-school programs.
Target area and populations:
Staffed by professional teaching artists, Storycatchers Theatre conducts ongoing multi-week programs with groups of youth who live in under-resourced urban neighborhoods or in juvenile justice facilities. Storycatchers adapts the program model to the setting and to participants’ specific needs. The model includes coaching young people through a cycle of story-writing assignments; leadership development exercises; reflections, readings, and critiques; planning sessions and rehearsals. These activities culminate in performances of a musical play built on a unified theme and a story line developed from participants’ writing. In this group process, participants learn writing and performance skills, achieve personal development goals, improve peer and family relationships, and acquire practical knowledge that can promote success in school, at home, and in their communities.
Where Storycatchers works and who the organization serves:
- Storycatchers partners with schools, parks, and centers for incarcerated youth in the metro Chicago area.
- Storycatchers participants are adolescents and young adults aged 12-25.