Igniting Creativity through the Arts
EmpowerYouth!: Igniting Creativity through the Arts is a groundbreaking partnership with the Chicago Urban League that immerses high school students in the creation and performance of an original performance.
EmpowerYouth! is a year-long program engaging 30 African-American high school students from Chicago in a process that encourages them to tell their story in their own words. The 2019/20 admitted participants are part of an all-time high in program applicants, including 13 who are returning from last year. Students will meet weekly with professional artists who specialize in acting, composition, vocal training, dance, and writing. Throughout the program, participants take part in a collaborative process that will result in an original stage production.
Guiding students as the program’s acting mentor and stage director is one of Chicago’s theater community leaders, Lili-Anne Brown. Tanji Harper serves as the movement mentor and choreographer for the third year, and Kedrick Armstrong returns as music mentor and music supervisor. Librettist/scriptwriter Kristiana Rae Colόn works with participants to incorporate their stories and ideas into an original script. Jacob Watson serves as facilitator for the program.
The intent of the EmpowerYouth! program is to support young people in telling their stories as young, Black Chicagoans. The final performance will be fully assembled by the students, with the guidance of the professional artistic staff, that will tell the story of their lives and how they deal with issues that are pertinent to them. Music—including singing, rap, acting, and dance—will all play a prominent role in the final performance.