To apply, please send your cover letter and resume to jobs@storycatcherstheatre.org with the position title in the subject line.

Position Summary. 

The Teaching Artist (TA) is a mentor and artistic coach who works with justice-involved youth in the creation of original theatre, songs, stories and poetry. The TA reports to the Program Manager and supports the Artistic Lead with implementing creative programming during each session. The TA is responsible for coaching youth (ages 13-18) through the writing and performance process, conducting one-on-one conversations about the story, character development, motivations, and emotions of the piece.  The TA will participate in all rehearsals and performances. A successful Teaching Artist will have a performance theater background.  They must demonstrate collaborative skills and be a role model for others, especially in stressful situations. 

This is a part-time, hourly, position working an average of 12 hours per week on-site in a secure juvenile justice partner facility.  This individual must work successfully with all persons in the organization without regard to ethnicity, religion, age, national origin, physical challenge, sexual orientation, or gender.

Job expectations. 

Artistic expectations: 

  • Study and develop proficiency in Storycatchers Theatre’s artistic process. 
  • Work with participants to help them share and write personal stories; read all drafts of all participants’ stories. 
  • Learn all choreography, blocking, songs, and other elements of each staged reading or production and be prepared to coach and/or understudy participants in all these aspects. 
  • Provide participants with individual acting or presentation skills coaching as needed. 
  • Support participants onstage as a Teaching Actor and ensemble leader; manage onstage entrances and exits as needed. 
  • Lead theatre games and rehearsal activities. 
  • Attend weekly team meetings.  
  • Provide emotional support to participants as needed; model professional rehearsal demeanor; work with other Teaching Artists to create and maintain a safe, positive program environment for all participants 

Additional expectations: 

  • Act as a role-model for participants by being on time to all program sessions, rehearsal calls and or touring calls as determined by specific program needs. 
  • Maintain a mature, respectful, and patient demeanor. 
  • Be on time to all program sessions, meetings, and teaching artist training. 
  • Be proactive about maintaining a working rehearsal space, including participation in setup and breakdown of rehearsal elements. Maintain security clearance qualifications in order to access secure facilities where residential programs take place. 

Some things a teaching artist might do in a typical week. 

Program Delivery: 

  • Attend a weekly program meeting to discuss a young person’s challenges in writing their story. 
  • Develop a creative workshop that addresses a curricular need. 
  • Discuss the lyrical emotions of an original song with a composer. 
  • Help block a scene or teach a new piece of choreography. 
  • Run the group warm-up. 
  • Develop a creative expression to better understand a traumatic event in the community. 
  • Accompany the ensemble on tour to a community performance. 
  • Prepare youth for a post-show discussion with the community. 

Youth Mentoring: 

  • Talk with a young person about why health and wellness are important. 
  • Check-in with a young person about progression towards a personal goal. 
  • Lead a team celebration for a young person who graduates into a full-time job. 
  • Provide encouragement through a stressful program session. 
  • Empower youth to develop coping tactics for handling a personal situation. 
  • Convince a young person to take advantage of a case management workshop. 

Who should apply. 

We place a high value on the ability to relate on a personal level to the population we serve. Maybe you have experienced growing up in underserved neighborhoods. Maybe you are dedicated to uplifting and empowering people who have lived through, or are currently living through, serious trauma. We’re looking for individuals who have a strong desire to work in youth development and possess a proactive and resilient nature. Experienced teaching artists who specialize in writing, acting, music, movement, or devised theatre are a definite plus. The most important quality is the ability to relate to the young people we work with, combined with a passion for this work and willingness to lean into our process and learn the necessary skills to work collaboratively with other staff to help participants develop their voices and turn their stories into creative expression. Our teaching artists help people find their voice and empower them to have personal goals, more positive trusting relationships, new opportunities, more joy and reclaimed futures. We offer a place where art makes real change. 

What you’ll need to be a great candidate. 

  • Be level-headed, resilient, and patient in the face of challenges and/or volatile situations such as youth exhibiting trauma triggers. 
  • Have experience working with those who have been traumatized and/or underserved. 
  • Be willing to work within a documented, trauma-informed writing methodology. 
  • Have teaching experience in a diverse setting. 
  • Have experience with collaborative teaching where leadership is shared.
  • Must have the characteristics of a motivational, empathic leader. 
  • Self-starter and team player with a positive mindset toward immediate responsibilities and urgent tasks. 
  • Be willing to respectfully accept and apply feedback. 
  • Be willing and capable of respectfully asking questions and seeking what you need as an individual to best support participants 
  • Able to accommodate a flexible, changing schedule. 
  • Have strong interest in advocating against the societal issues and oppressions prevalent in minority communities and the justice system. 
  • Have a strong sense of professional boundaries in relationships with youth participants.
  • Successful completion of a facility-required background check.

Required availability. 

Average of 12 hours per week. Days and times vary depending on the programs (See Below). 


We pay for time spent in program and all assigned off-site prep time. That means compensation for script reading, curriculum planning and staff meetings, monthly artist training – anything you are required to do for each program session, performance, or professional development. 

Where you’ll work. 

Our residential programs take place inside one of several juvenile justice facilities:

  • Firewriters Program:  Illinois Youth Center-Chicago, 136 N. Western, Chicago, IL.    Program Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:30-6:30 
  • Word Warriors Program:  Illinois Youth Center-Warrenville, 30W200 Ferry Rd., Warrenville, IL.    Program Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 3:30-5:30 

About Storycatchers Theatre. 

Since 1990, Storycatchers Theatre has been amplifying and elevating the voices of youth impacted by the carceral state. Using an award-winning and transformational writing methodology, Storycatchers prepares these young people to be self-advocates and provides tools for them to envision and pursue productive futures of their own choosing.

Storycatchers Theatre is a non-profit that works with youth in incarceration facilities, detention centers, and post-release programs to write true personal stories, overcome traumatic experiences, and empower their individual growth. Staff use a healing-centered methodology to meet the youth where they are and identify how they want to creatively tell their stories. Some of the formats include rap songs, anthologies, podcasts and musical theatre pieces. Every effort is made to share these pieces with the families and communities of the young people, facilitating discussions that create change in themselves and their audiences. 

Our Core Values. 

  1. We commit to each other.  We hold strong to our own integrity, beliefs, and actions. We care for each other, acknowledging our traumas and joys, challenges, and celebrations. We show up in the face of adversity; and with our shared trust, inspire others to realize the true measure of bravery in moving forward together.
  2. We commit to our community.  We strive to create a place of safety and resource for young people. We do this by connecting with allies who share our values and understand what can be accomplished with a network of support. Through this collaborative vision, we provide young people with the stability that is necessary for meaningful growth.
  3. We respect that everyone has a unique story.  We see each person’s story as a remarkable gift. We value the diversity of our staff and youth’s unique perspectives and their impact on our collaborative process. This allows us to expand boundaries and create innovative solutions to address challenges that often seem unconquerable.
  4. We believe that youth can be the authors of their own lives.  By letting the youth voices guide our work, we develop a common language, build trust, and give them tools to unlock their potential. We affirm their lived experience and use the power of applause, positive reinforcement, and public acknowledgement to a create a lasting sense of personal value for our entire Storycatchers community.
  5. We are innovative.  We believe that paired together, creativity and purpose are the keys to tackling the complex challenges confronting youth. We explore and play, using our values to test boundaries and discover solutions that transcend traditional ideas and rules. We combine ingenuity and resources in extraordinary ways to develop art and the facility to make real change.