Monday, January 28, 2013

Now Is The Time To Act

     Artistic expression is among the most powerful tools available to any population thirsting for change. This is a truth that is too often ignored.  After all, a poem alone won't feed the hungry, a song on its own won't rebuild a town, and a play by itself won't end a war. However, without art, too many vital issues are invisible until the moment they combust.  Art shines light on crises, illuminates details, and reveals potential solutions. It is a mighty first step toward concrete change.

     It was recently reported that children of Syrian refugees, when provided with crayons and paper, drew heartbreaking pictures of horror and bloodshed. Children who are too young to understand their circumstances, articulated in art the scope of their terror.  In so doing, they drew global attention to their urgent needs.
     Those reports and accompanying images moved me as I prepared for a recent performance of Imagination Theater’s Take A Stand in Chicago. Instead of crayons and paper, our teaching artists employ theater to focus attention on the issues most pertinent to Chicago students.  Those issues change with every school, but the effectiveness of theater remains constant.

     After a scene about bullying and prior to bringing an audience volunteer on stage to positively redirect the action, we engaged the audience in a conversation. Discussion quickly turned to the importance of reporting bullying to an adult. I watched administrators nod in approval.
     However, the students were not all on board. One brave girl raised her hand and confessed that she hesitates to report bullies for fear that she will suffer retribution from them. There was a second wave of nodding heads, but this time it came from the students in the audience. An opportunity for collaborative learning was created. Administrators discovered the need to address anonymous reporting and assure students that they will be protected from retaliation. The relieved students, smiled as their concerns were addressed and put to rest. Art established a forum to share previously unspoken fears and opened a door for solutions.  These are the moments that Imagination Theater's teaching artists are particularly proud of.  

     We are thrilled that our teaching artists are not working alone to give voice to Chicago's students.  Imagination Theater is privileged to be part of Now Is The Time To Act: A coalition of teaching artists from Chicago’s diverse theater community working to end youth violence. Together these committed theaters help students articulate their experiences, fears, hopes, needs, and proposals for change. Performances by participating theaters ignite meaningful conversations within their audiences. Together we can draw attention to the issue of youth violence and contribute to the answer.
     Examples of the coalition’s work, upcoming events, and student generated art can be found at If you are interested in joining the conversation, you are welcome to attend any of the public events.

     Imagination Theater is one of many great theaters committed to this cause. Our mission is noble, and any mission shared by many is mighty.

     As always, you can learn more about Imagination Theater at

     – Jeremy Schaefer

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Quick Story About Inclusion & Snow.

While working from home today, I am watching a beautiful, light snowfall.

From my desk, I see three children, bundled in several heavy layers, huddled together in a yard across the street.  While a parent is busy loading the car,  the oldest of the three, a redheaded boy of 8 or 9 years old, begins catching snowflakes on his tongue.

The two younger children, likely closer to 4 years of age, stare in awe as he steals the frosty treats from the air.  They both attempt to mimic, but they can't quite get it right.  The smallest of the two is simply sticking out his tongue without angling his face toward the falling snow.  The third youth is opening his mouth as wide as possible and anxiously waiting for a wind to deliver stray snowflakes directly to him.

It's not long before the oldest boy notices the relative lack of experience in his peers.  I can't hear what he says from where I sit, but I see him give quick explanations of technique followed by examples.  His two students then try again.  When they check in with their winter guru, he nods in approval. 

Finally, all three gleefully collect snowflakes on their tongues.

Not only did the oldest help and encourage the younger two, but he enabled the three to enjoy the snow together.

It was a great thing to watch while working for a theater company producing plays that inspire audiences to support, include and encourage each other.  Even when something as exciting as snow finally happens, showing respect makes if more fun for everyone!

As always, you visit, for more information about our performances.

-Jeremy Schaefer

Monday, January 7, 2013

Welcome Back to School!

It's the first day back to school!  Imagination Theater is thrilled to dive into an exciting 2013!

Now, while resolutions are fresh, is an excellent time to share an interactive, social issues assembly with your students.  During an Imagination Theater performance students put their social issues resolutions to the test; each scene provides a safe setting to explore the consequences of individual actions.

Whether you hope to reduce bullying, encourage recycling, or improve health objectives, Imagination Theater is here to help.  We know this is going to be a great year!

As always, you can learn more about Imagination Theater at

-Jeremy Schaefer

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Have A Happy New Year!


Last night Imagination Theater celebrated an incredible 2012, filled with shows, tours, workshops and trainings for fantastic audiences!

This morning we awake, a little weary from the evening's festivities, to a new and exciting year!  We can't wait to resume our busy performance schedule as soon as school is back in session!  We know that 2013 will be a great year, because it will be spent bringing terrific shows to eager audiences.  We at Imagination Theater, can't think of a better way to spend a year!

Happy New Year!

As always, you can see more about our shows at

-Jeremy Schaefer