Monday, December 16, 2013

Show Some Respect: Holiday Edition

Every December Imagination Theater performs a holiday themed version of our popular Show Some Respect program.  Nothing makes participatory theater more fun than when every single scene is a party!

However, these scenes aren't your average parties!  Each scene of Show Some Respect: Holiday Edition brings students up on stage to warm the hearts of the scroogiest Scrooges with exemplary displays of respect.

Regardless of our audiences' resolutions, they will certainly make the new year a respectful one!

As always, you can learn more about Imagination Theater and our programs at

- Jeremy Schaefer

Monday, December 9, 2013

Take A Stand

Participatory theater is a living art.  It changes with current trends.  It grows with increased understanding.  It embraces the ideas and ideals of communities.

Imagination Theater's performances are very much alive.  We created Take A Stand, a program about bullying for middle and high school audiences, in 2012.  This edgy, topical assembly stood among the most popular programs of our 12/13 season.

Customers raved about the show while asking that we incorporate new scenarios that touched their school communities.  We have collected those thoughts and allowed our show to grow.

Today we rehearsed the result of that growth.  The introduction has more opportunities for audience interaction and the discussion after each scene delves a little bit deeper than before.  We have a brand new scene to explore what students can do when a friend's self-esteem is beaten down by bullies.  As always the scenarios are relevant, realistic, and age appropriate.

We were thrilled with this program's initial success and continue to be thrilled with its growth.  But more than that, we are grateful for the adaptability of our style and the finesse of our ensemble as they present with clarity our ever changing programs.

We look forward to sharing Take A Stand with your students!

As always, you can learn more about our programs at

- Jeremy Schaefer

Friday, December 6, 2013

Grateful For All Our Partners

Many of us expressed gratitude and counted blessings around the dinner table on Thanksgiving.

In the wake of Turkey Day, Imagination Theater continues to be grateful for our supporters and the numerous ways in which they contribute to our mission.

Prior to Thanksgiving, DePaul University business students proposed brand new marketing plans to Imagination Theater.  Their creativity and passion will help us serve a growing audience base in the 2014/15 season.

The Tuesday after Black Friday was Giving Tuesday.  Several of our partners opted to celebrate the awesome work of non profits, by giving to Imagination Theater.  Grassroots donations like these are vital to our organization.

We recently received our check from goodsearch.  We benefit from a mighty collective of web savvy philanthropists who earn money for Imagination Theater by searching the internet and shopping online.  Visit and see how easy it is to raise funds for Imagination Theater, at no cost to you.

Right now, we are prepping our annual partner mailing.  As we stamp envelopes and sign letters, it is truly moving how many partners we have!

We are proud of the work we do; we are glad that you are too.  If you are not yet a partner of Imagination Theater, please consider joining our community with a donation of any size.

As always, you can learn more about Imagination Theater at

-Jeremy Schaefer, Associate Artistic Director

Friday, October 25, 2013

Good Luck Derek!

After three great seasons with us, Associate Artistic Director, Derek Czaplewski is stepping down to pursue other projects.  His presence in our office will be missed on Monday morning.

Derek came to us from HealthWorks Theatre, and brought that company's passion for health education with him.  To teach K-5 audiences about fitness and nutrition, he created Making Healthy Choices; he even facilitated its premier performance.  He continued the spirit of HealthWorks Theatre by creating Aware Individuals to promote HIV/AIDS awareness in high schools.  These programs expanded Imagination Theater's mission and provided schools with powerful tools to provoke vital conversations.

Outside of Imagination Theater, Derek has acted and directed with numerous companies around the city.  He can currently be seen as Farmer Brown in Lifeline Theatre's production of Click, Clack, Boo! (pictured below).

Both on stage and off, Imagination Theater wishes Derek the very best of luck!  We are grateful for his contributions over the past three years!

As always, you can learn more about Making Healthy Choices, Aware Individuals, or any of our other programs at

- Jeremy Schaefer

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Red Ribbon Shows!

Imagination Theater was thrilled to celebrate Red Ribbon Week with Dorn Elementary!  An assembly of Ease the Tease is a great way to celebrate any school occasion!

See pictures from the show at the school's website!

As always, you can learn more about Imagination Theater's programs at

- Jeremy Schaefer

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Blowitz-Ridgeway Grant

Imagination Theater has numerous partnerships that prevent price from impeding our mission of providing diverse audiences with original, dynamic, participatory, theatrical programming that enhances well-being and creates a more civil, safe society.

We've been fortunate enough to build long, lasting relationships with both individual donors and granting organizations.  One of our consistent supporters, who has renewed their support for this year, is The Blowitz-Ridgeway Foundation.

Using the proceeds from the 1984 sale of Chicago's Ridgeway Hospital, The Blowitz-Ridgeway Foundation continues to serve Illinois in the noble spirit of that hospital.

The funds provided to Imagination Theater are supplemental funds intended to relieve myriad schools and senior care centers of the financial burden that comes with enrichment performances.

Organizations requiring financial support to bring shows like  Ease the Tease to elementary students or  Senior Spotlight to seniors communities, are welcome to apply to have their cost cut in half by The Blowitz-Ridgeway Foundation.

We are immensely pleased to extend this opportunity to sites throughout Illinois.  If cost has been prohibitive in the past, please contact us to apply for these funds.  If further support is required, Imagination Theater will see what we can do on our end to complement the Blowitz-Ridgeway funding.

As always, you can visit to learn more about the programming Imagination Theater provides and The Blowitz-Rideway Foundation support

—Jeremy Schaefer

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On The Road Again!

Every ensemble spends a great deal of time together.  Imagination Theater is no exception.  This past week our nomadic cast of actors and facilitators traveled to New York City, Pittsburgh, Roanoke, Cleveland, Cedar Rapids, Pella, Buffalo, and several stops in between!

Heavy touring can either make or break an ensemble.  I'm happy to say that future shows will benefit from this busy week of travel.  By week's end, we were celebrating dozens of successful performances and hours of priceless bonding experiences.  Killing time in the car by sharing desert island playlists and embarrassing stories strengthens the chemistry between artists.  Audiences take note of an ensemble that really understands how to work with and support one another.  Our cast's ability to do just that keeps entire gymnasiums engaged in our shows and tuned into our message.

A quick stop on the way to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Niagara Falls.

We look forward to many more weeks on the road during the 2013/14 season!

As always, you can learn more about our programs at

-Jeremy Schaefer

Monday, August 19, 2013

College Bound!

Imagination Theater is college bound!

When first year students transition into college life, Imagination Theater is there to meet them, celebrate their excitement, and ease their anxiety.

College 101 kicks off our season every year.  This participatory program runs the gauntlet of topics from new roommates to sexual assault.  We conclude performances with a fully improvised scene that addresses students' specific concerns.  The show gets audience members laughing over their shared fears and exchanging ideas about how to handle difficult situations.

College 101 is a tremendous introduction to college life.  Imagination Theater is grateful that such a dynamic performance kicks off our season in cities all over the country!

As always, you can find more information about Imagination Theater at

- Jeremy Schaefer


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Go Green!

As summer winds down, the number of perfect camping nights dwindles ever closer to a snow covered zero.  This past weekend I took advantage of the absolutely perfect late summer nights we've been having and pitched a tent at Starved Rock State Park.

The Illinois River rushing past dramatic sandstone bluffs stands among the prettiest views in the state.  At times, however, the view along the popular path was less awe inspiring. When I saw the myriad water bottles discarded along the trail, I couldn't help recalling Imagination Theater's Go Green.

In one scene, two friends are on a nature hike when one of them drops an empty water bottle along the trail.  A brief conversation follows about littering, but the actor who dropped the bottle defends the choice by pointing to all the other bottles and asking, "What difference does it make?"  

This is when we freeze the scene and ask the audience the same question.  K-5 students are quick to point out that "just because other people do it, doesn't make it right," and that "littering hurts the plants and animals." Litter diminishes the beauty of nature and reduces its perceived value.  Our audiences understand that being an "anti-litter bug" is just one way to respect each other, and protect the planet. 

At every performance of Go Green, a volunteer comes on stage to explain to our actors why they shouldn't litter, and encourage them to pick up their trash.  Many volunteers have motivated our actors to pick up other trash as well (with gloves and parental supervision, of course.)

This weekend, as I often am, I was inspired by our audiences.  At the end of my hike I emptied a backpack full of litter into the recycling bins by the trail head.  The passion of our audience volunteers persists well after the show.
As always, you can learn more about Imagination Theater programs, including Go Green, at   

- Jeremy Schaefer

Thursday, August 1, 2013

New Ensemble Members!

An ensemble is like a family; therefore, when Imagination Theater welcomes three new actors into our ensemble, it is something to celebrate!

We are certainly celebrating the addition of three wonderfully talented actors to Imagination Theater's cast: Jake JonesKanomé Jones, and Marquecia Jordan!

We spent the last month introducing them to our signature style of theater.  They have picked up beautifully!  It is a pleasure to watch them take on scenes from Ease the Tease and Show Some Respect!  Their personalities and experience breathe fresh life into popular scenes.  We can't wait to get them in front of audiences!

As always, if you would like information about Imagination Theater's interactive programs, you can visit us at

- Jeremy Schaefer

Monday, June 10, 2013

Celebrating the 2012/2013 Season!

The 2012/13 season has been a truly fantastic experience!  Our collaboration with Now Is The Time To ACT allowed us to contribute to a vital mission, Take A Stand evolved throughout the year to become a potent exploration of bullying for junior high and high school audiences, and Ease The Tease 2.0 took our most popular program to an inspiring new level.

What really made this season a success, however, was our phenomenal ensemble of actors, facilitators, and teaching artists.  I have had the pleasure of going out on numerous shows as both a performer and an audience member.  Whether I'm on stage or in the audience, it is impossible to ignore how powerful our programs have become in the hands of this talented ensemble!

Imagination Theater is so grateful to the individuals that make us great!

As always, you can learn more about our ensemble and the programs we produce at

- Jeremy Schaefer

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

No Secrets

No Secrets stands among the most powerful programs in Imagination Theater's history.  Our intuitive ensemble members bring the vital and often neglected issue of sexual abuse directly to Chicago's students.

Initiating a discussion about sexual abuse with K-8th graders is a daunting task, however, our excellent facilitator and passionate actors make it look easy.  The audience eases into the discussion via playful initial scenes where kids accidentally hurt each other, or an aunt pinches their cheeks.  These early scenes provoke laughter and make a serious discussion less intimidating while introducing the ideas of safe versus unsafe touches, personal body safety, and the right of children to tell anyone "no" if they ever receive a touch that makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.  The subject matter gets weightier as the scenes progress.  By the time we approach the topic of sexual abuse, the audience is engaged and prepared.

We provide the students with a definition of sexual abuse and the assurance that if it happens it is not their fault and must be stopped.  Audience members create a list of trusted adults that they can report sexual abuse to, learn their rights, and practice saying 'no' to unwanted touches.

Before No Secrets even comes into a school, counselors and social workers receive a 3 hour training from the CCAC, and RVA provides a 90 minute staff/teacher training to prepare the school for the program and stress the proper procedure for student disclosures.

The show can be an emotional experience for some audience members.  Our partners, Rape Victims Advocates, support audience members that are affected by the performance.  There is a safe room where students can anonymously report to social workers and get the help they need.

Imagination Theater is excited to launch a continuing education component this year for K-2 audiences.  As part of this supplemental workshop RVA and Imagination Theater actors reiterate the show's most vital themes to our youngest audiences.  This is an important opportunity to review the difference between safe and unsafe touches.

This immensely powerful program is fully grant supported within the city of Chicago.  It is a resource that we are proud to provide.

As always, you can learn more about Imagination Theater at

— Jeremy Schaefer


Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Friday night's Illuminate Benefit was fantastic!

Rape Victim Advocates were celebrated for their amazing work with our No Secrets program.  Their work in the classroom and in the safe room after the show, has a profound impact on children who have survived sexual violence.  RVA and No Secrets truly changes lives.

Over the course of the evening we raised nearly $25,000 for our cause!  This goes a long way toward sharing our powerful programming with eager audiences!  All students deserve theatrical expression and open discussion.  Your support and contributions make it happen!

Thank you!

As always, you can learn more about Imagination Theater at

— Jeremy Schaefer

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Illuminate Benefit

Illuminate Benefit!

When positive collaborations form, great things follow.  As Imagination Theater's annual Illuminate Benefit approaches, we gear up for a celebration of the myriad partnerships that have contributed to our mission this season!

As I type this, a corner of our office is quickly filling up with tempting items for the silent auction.  I've already begun planning my personal bidding strategy for the Kindle Fire.

This morning I finished the final touches on a video highlighting the year's accomplishments.  I look forward to sharing that HD miscellany of participatory theater with all our many partners.

For tickets to the event this Friday May 17 from 7:00 - 10:00 at the Mars Gallery: 1139 W. Fulton Market in Chicago, visit our benefit page.  

We hope to see you there!

As always, you can learn more about our varied programs at

− Jeremy Schaefer

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Now Is The Time: Conversations on Violence Through Theater

As part of Now Is The Time To ACT, Imagination Theater and For Youth Inquiry will bring their interactive, social issues based performances to Adventure Stage Chicago’s Logan Square location on April 28th at 3:00!  This is a unique opportunity for the public to see the dynamic, challenging, and participatory programming that Imagination Theater and For Youth Inquiry bring to schools!

Imagination Theater will be performing our brand new performance Take A Stand.  This performance breaks down the reasons bullying and violence persist in junior high and high schools.  As the title suggests, the program empowers students to take a stand.  Audience members are involved in the process of bettering their communities at the conclusion of every scene!

For Youth Inquiry will share their excellent program on sexual violence, Can I Hit It?  This powerful program invites the audience to write their own definitions of sexual violence, examine how they may be affected by it, and practice interrupting violent situations.  A perfect performance for Sexual Assault Awareness Month!
Both shows are highly interactive and seek to initiate lasting conversations.  The event is free, but space is limited.  E-mail to reserve a spot!

We hope to see you there!

As always, you can learn more about what's happening at Imagination Theater at


Monday, April 8, 2013

Applauding Adventure Stage Chicago!

Imagination Theater seeks to build community in everything we do.  It is in that spirit that we applaud our peer in the theater community,
Adventure Stage Chicago, for their world-premier show,
Augusta & Noble!

Everything about this show excites us!  It was conceived through a series of 'story circles' with Adventure Stage's neighbors.  The resulting play is a meaningful reflection of that community.
Augusta and Noble tells the story of Gabi, a girl who has lived her whole life amid a vibrant Latino community in Chicago's West Town neighborhood.  However, when Gabi starts high school in a new neighborhood, she is quickly exposed to new people and possibilities.  Gabi questions her heritage and strives to discover where in this diverse world she belongs.   

 Recommended for ages 9 and up.  Learn more about Augusta & Noble at

We are pleased to support the exciting performances of peer theaters!  To see what's going on at Imagination Theater, as always, you can visit us at

— Jeremy Schaefer

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Go Green!

Imagination Theater's Go Green!

All of Imagination Theater's participatory programs improve communities and enhance public health by empowering audiences as agents of change.

When I started with Imagination Theater as an actor, I was drawn to our shows' simple message that actions have consequences.  This message encouraged audience members to think before they act and positively affect their community.

The success of Imagination Theater's mission inspired me; however, it also posed a challenge.  I wondered, how can our format encourage positive choices when the benefit of those choices is not readily perceptible?

To answer that question, I extended Imagination Theater's mission to a social issue that is often overwhelming in its complexity: environmental stewardship.

Simple choices, like reusing a cup, turning off a light, or recycling a newspaper, make a difference for the environment that is not felt right away (and is sometimes never experienced by the individuals that make those choices).  Just the same, those actions are immeasurably beneficial for plants, animals, and humans alike.

Go Green celebrates the small steps that every student can take.  It reveals how we are connected to our world, and how by respecting the environment we respect ourselves.

The first performances of Go Green in Chicago were a huge success!  Through humor and interaction, audience members took pride in taking shorter showers, recycling, and reducing needless packaging.  They discovered ways to support the earth and learned the value of a positive choice that is not promptly rewarded.

I am tremendously proud of this performance, and I am glad that Imagination Theater offers it as a way to celebrate Earth Day!

To book a performance, e-mail!

As always, you can find more information about all of Imagination Theater's programs at

—Jeremy Schaefer