Steppenwolf Theatre performs at state juvenile justice facilities

Steppenwolf Theatre is taking one of its latest productions on the road to perform at various Illinois juvenile justice facilities where young people are incarcerated.

The theater company is performing "Monster," adapted from a best-seller is about a 16-year-old aspiring filmmaker whose life goes off track when he is accused of being involved in a robbery.

Steppenwolf is being done in partnership with Storycatchers Theatre, a 33-year-old Chicago arts organization that encourages at-risk youth to create theater work that is inspired by their own stories.

"It's really fantastic to have a professional theater company that's looking at the same issues that we're looking at," said Meade Palidofsky, Storycatchers artistic director.

ABC7 brought a camera into a center where exposure to the arts is helping troubled youth. For the first time ever, the Illinois Youth Center Facility allowed a camera inside so we could observe the youth watching the Steppenwolf actors and later dialogue about their reaction to the play.

"Monster" just finished a four-week run for Steppenwolf for Young Adults.

"What the arts does is help youth express themselves in ways that wouldn't otherwise do," said Hallie Gordon, artistic director for Steppenwolf for Young Adults.

In a few weeks, many of the youth will perform in their own Storycatchers production, memorizing lines and performing in front of an audience for the first time.

"It's really important to inspire kids to let them know that we want to hear our stories and we want other people to hear our stories," said one of the youth participants.

"When we do the plays they never play themselves so it's about stepping into somebody else's shoes and learning empathy," Palidofsky said.
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.