Artistic Director Meade Palidofsky founded Storycatchers Theatre in 1984 under the name Music Theatre Workshop. Palidofsky’s quest to connect storytelling and the performing arts to positive change, both social and personal, has enabled the company to develop into the positive youth development organization it is today.
For the first decade, a company of professional actors toured original musicals based on stories gathered from Chicago-area youth, using these musicals as a vehicle for post-performance reflection and discussion. In 1990, with a program at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, Palidofsky began developing what would become the company’s signature, award-winning work with court-involved youth. This marked the beginning of a shift from using professional actors to engaging adolescents in the full process, from story collection to performance. As Palidofsky’s understanding of adolescents and their life challenges deepened, the Storycatchers model emerged: working with young writers and performers to use the process of creating autobiographical musical theatre to prepare them to make thoughtful life choices.
Over time, Palidofsky became aware of and concerned about the amount of trauma experienced by participants, particularly the incarcerated females. Funded by a Chicago Community Trust 2010 Leadership Fellowship, she studied with Dr. Bradley Stolbach, a trauma expert. Together Palidofsky and Stolbach examined Storycatchers process and compared it to the elements of complex trauma therapy. They published their findings in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma in September, 2012, under the title Dramatic Healing: The Evolution of a Trauma-Informed Musical Theatre Program for Incarcerated Girls. Click here to purchase a copy.