How exactly should a theatre for young audiences and families respond to a world that seems to be changing so rapidly? What responsibility do we have to acknowledge the battles being fought in the political sphere? Can we afford to ignore them? Should we assume the young people in our lives are immune to them?
I'm not going to pretend I have the right answer to these questions, but it feels like the right time to be asking them. I do believe that young people are absolutely aware of the messiness of our current civic discourse. And I also would wager that most caregivers struggle to make sense of it for the children in their lives.
My journey as an artistic director has been strengthened time and again by examples of storytelling that have opened up the possibility for dialogue and empathy between and among young people and the adults in their lives. Adventure Stage Chicago, a participatory arts program, has always relished the opportunity to tell socially relevant stories that invite audiences to think critically about the world we inhabit together and to talk about it. Indeed, we believe there is a direct link between that invitation and an individual's sense of self-determination and agency. Extend this idea to its logical conclusion and you'll see that it is fundamental to a young person's understanding of how a free-thinking, participatory democracy works.
Adventure Stage Chicago
is a fully integrated program of the
, a community-based service organization that has been nurturing, educating and inspiring its neighbors for over 125 years. Most of those neighbors, it should be noted, are immigrants. For over a century, settlements across the United States-most notably exemplified by Jane Addams and Hull House-have been an important touchstone for these individuals and families who came to this country eager to participate in the American Dream. That dream is as relevant today as it was a hundred years ago. It's as relevant for the family newly arrived from El Salvador as it is for the family that has been struggling with poverty for generations on the West Side of Chicago.
Adventure Stage is making a commitment to continue telling heroic stories that inspire all of us to make courageous choices. We'll continue to create new plays that give voice to the most marginalized in our community. We'll continue our residency work within Chicago Public School classrooms and our mentoring work with local teens using the tools at our disposal that encourage young people to become the storytellers of their own lives. As we look to future seasons, we will prioritize stories of compassion and inclusivity and tackle the obstacles of prosperity head on.
Adventure Stage Chicago creates work appropriate for a wide spectrum of ages, that it celebrates cultural diversity, and that it encourages critical thinking reflects a desire to strengthen bonds within our community. It reflects a commitment to the idea that certain values-courage, imagination, collaboration, justice, hope-are universal regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion or family background. The rich human values we share as a community will always make us stronger than the superficial differences that so easily drop us into divisive categories.
The promise of America has been built on the idea that the future is full of possibility and equal opportunity. That there are still uncharted spaces to explore and maps to be drawn. That we have more to learn about ourselves and our neighbors. I look forward to continuing this journey with you and welcome your ideas, your concerns, your hopes and your dreams.
Producing Artistic Director & Founder
Adventure Stage Chicago