Thanks to the generosity of Chicago’s professional theatre community, and the determination of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice to broaden the outlook and education of its youth, Storycatchers brings groups of participants from all of its programs to performances throughout the Chicago area on a regular basis.

“Many of our participants come to us with no idea of what a play actually looks like,” Artistic Director Meade Palidofsky explains. “Ariel, 18, one of our girls working on last fall’s Fabulous Females production of Blackout/Flashback, confessed that she had never seen a play before.  After viewing Drury Lane’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher, a beautifully directed ensemble show, she exclaimed with that flashbulb look in her eyes, ‘Oh, that’s what you want me to do!’”

In 2016, participants in the Fabulous Females, Firewriters, Changing Voices, and Teens Together programs attended a wide range of productions, including: Satchmo at the Waldorf at the Court Theatre; The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes at the Mercury Theater; Disgraced, Another Word for Beauty, and Carlyle at the Goodman Theatre; The Compass and 1984, both productions of Steppenwolf for Young Adults; Peter and the Starcatcher at Drury Lane Theatre; and West Side Story at the Paramount Theatre. Upcoming excursions will include The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window at the Goodman and The Producers at the Mercury Theater.

The IDJJ continues to allow inter-facility performance exchanges between the Fabulous Females and the Firewriters, as well as visits from the Changing Voices and Teens Together touring ensembles. “These exchanges facilitate connections between our programs and participants.  It gives them a sense of familiarity and safety when progressing from a residential setting to a community program upon release,” commented Palidofsky. “It’s also incredibly validating for the Changing Voices young people to enter a secure facility as an example of post-release success.  IDJJ recognizes that these youth blossom as mentors to their peers, that the benefit to both residents and post release youth makes it worthwhile for the department to allow young people with records to enter the IYCs under Storycatchers’ supervision.”

FF Trip

James Earl Jones II (Carlyle Meyers) from Carlyle, Cydney Patrice Cleveland, Jada and Aurora; IYC-Warrenville