Free Street Theater offers afterschool workshops

051014-wls-free-street-theater2-vid (WLS)
May 12, 2014 11:10:09 AM PDT
Nobody likes to be called names and a group of Chicago young people says labels are a big deal, as those labels can have a strong impact on how teens view themselves and relate to others.

"Nerds, Sluts, Commies and Jocks." It's a provocative title for a play that intends to spark conversation about high school politics and young people finding their place in the world.

"It's mainly about the labels that society gives us and how the labels effect our identity and how the labels are created," said 17-year-old Yvonne Coleman. "We explore how the labels effect how we identify ourselves, especially as teenagers. We explore where the idea of the labels come from, who is imposing it on us and what purpose the labels serve in society."

It's a production of Free Street Theater, an arts partner in residence at the Chicago Park District. The non-profit offers after-school theater and writing workshops. It's an opportunity for students to learn creative writing while expressing their own challenges in a safe environment.

"WE get to talk about things that we want to talk about and that we feel is important and we have people who listen," said Mendoza. "So we get to create a play on what we think is an issue at the time and we get to show it to adults."

Every season, youth aged 14 to 19 choose a topic to explore and take it to the stage. Coya Paz is the artistic director.

"Free Street Theater has been around since 1969 and we are a theater company that works very hard to rethink where theater belongs and who belongs in a theater," Paz said. "What we're really trying to get the youth to do is to think about how to ask better questions so they can get better answers."

The students of free street theater will be presenting their play next Friday and Saturday night at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse.

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