The Community Actors Program (CAP), developed in 2014 and run in partnership with After School Matters, is oriented toward social justice and positions teen performers as powerful actors in both art and society. This six-week apprenticeship cultivates teens’ creativity, social development, and leadership, and inspires them to make a positive difference. Teens work together to create a short play or collection of scenes that respond to community issues and organize an accompanying public event.

Largely utilizing Theatre of the Oppressed, applied, and participatory theater techniques, the Community Actors Program is focused on exposure to theater and performance as a tool for social justice and making a positive difference. It enables teens to tell the stories most proximate to them in efforts of community building and bringing about about social change. Driving questions throughout CAP sessions are often, “How can we use performance to: investigate ourselves and each other, respond to community and society, and create space for social dialogue and action?”

Teens learn performance techniques, community facilitation strategies, and conflict resolution skills through various exercises with performing and writing, leading interactive games and activities, and creating an original, multidisciplinary public performance in, with, and/or informed by the community that speaks to a local need or issue of interest. 


Skills developed include:

  • Vocal projection, diction and expression 
  • Movement-based storytelling
  • Character development
  • plot development
  • Theater staging and direction
  • Facilitation techniques 
  • Conflict resolution
  • community building

Successes
After the summer 2015 session of CAP, student reports showed the following changes in students from the beginning of the program to the end: 

  • 20% more students saw selves as an artist or creative
  • 25% more students saw positives in their community or neighborhood
  • 25% more students said they were likely to take creative risks in group work
  • 25% more students said they felt confident in using performance to tell own stories

Sample projects

  • Devise play addressing community issues
  • Lead theater games and workshops for other teens and youth
  • Write and perform monologues or poems

For more information about the Community Actors Program, contact: 
Quenna Barrett | 773.834.0224.

ARTS INCUBATOR

pin301 E Garfield Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60637

HOURS
Mon - Fri 10am - 6pm
Extended hours during events

PHONE
773.702.9724

MEDIA INQUIRIES
Ronia Holmes
UChicago Arts Communications
roniamh@uchicago.edu | 773.834.0481

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