Goodman Theatre welcomes more than two dozen Chicago public high schools to the 2013-2014 “Student Subscription Series”

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Unique process-oriented series has introduced theater to Chicago youth for 27 years, remains the only program of its kind offered completely free of charge


CHICAGO, IL – More than 2,700 students and 66 teachers from 28 Chicago high schools join Goodman Theatre’s 2013/2014 “Student Subscription Series” (SSS), the theater’s longest-running education program and the first of its kind in the country. SSS unites Goodman staff with teachers—two to three per school, including at least one math or science teacher—who attend workshops to learn how to use theater process and product to differentiate instruction, build curriculum that connects the plays on stage with students’ classroom studies and activate student engagement. Twenty-six of the participating schools are Chicago Public Schools and two are parochial schools; 22 of the schools serve students on the South and West sides of Chicago. Five schools are new to the program, and 10 schools have participated in SSS for five years or more. Last year, 88% of SSS participants were from low-income families with only 70% on-track to graduate from high school. This year, participants experience four Goodman productions—Pullman Porter Blues by Cheryl L. West, Luna Gale by Rebecca Gilman, Buzzer by Tracey Scott Wilson and The White Snake written and directed by Mary Zimmerman—completely free of charge.

“What distinguishes the Goodman’s Student Subscription Series from programs at other organizations is that we see theater as a transformational art form and believe in the arts as education. Students see a series of shows, so the topics, themes and issues around which we can get students and teachers engaged in conversation is extraordinarily wide-ranging,” said Willa J. Taylor, now in her seventh season as director of education and community engagement and who previously led education programs at Lincoln Center Theater and Arena Stage. “We also understand that teaching goes beyond the lines delivered on stage; the set of Luna Gale, for instance, is designed on a turntable, which presents more than 30 different mathematical applications that teachers can use to spark students’ interest in math and science. These elements, plus the fact that it’s offered completely free of charge, make SSS one of a kind.”

Taylor and her team pair math, science and other non-humanities teachers with drama, English and history teachers to develop curriculum that integrates theater across all subject areas. Classes participating in the 2013/2014 SSS include music, geometry, algebra, law, biology, engineering and theology. Prior to attending the performances, participants receive play scripts and a student guide, plus additional free tickets for parents and guardians interested in viewing the production prior to their student’s experience.

“I can think of dozens of students for whom SSS has been either a doorway to a bigger vision of life, or a literal life-saver,” said Ira Abrams, a teacher at Chicago Military Academy at Bronzeville who has worked with the Goodman to bring theater to his students for almost ten years. “The Goodman program has been the cornerstone of my effort to help students see what is possible with a text. There’s a light bulb that comes on when they see the shows on stage, and I would be hard-pressed to reproduce that kind of learning by any other means.”

Participating schools include: Chicago Math and Science Academy, Chicago Military Academy at Bronzeville, Chicago Vocational Career Academy, Collins Academy High School, Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, Edwin G. Foreman High School, Frederick Douglass Academy High School, Gage Park High School, George Washington High School, Gordon Tech College Prep, Holy Trinity High School, John Hancock College Preparatory High School, Johnson College Prep, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, Stephen T. Mather High School, Muchin College Prep, Multicultural Academy of Scholarship High School, Nicholas Senn High School, North Lawndale College Preparatory Charter High School – Collins Campus, Orr Academy High School, Simeon Career Academy, South Shore High School of Leadership, South Shore International College Preparatory High School, Spry Community Links High School, Vaughn Occupational High School, VOISE Academy High School, Walter Payton College Prep and Westinghouse College Prep.

Polk Bros. Foundation is the Principal Foundation Supporter of the Student Subscription Series. Target is the Major Corporate Sponsor of the Student Matinees. JP Morgan Chase is the Corporate Sponsor of the Student Subscription Series. The Dr. Scholl Foundation is the Foundation Supporter of the Cindy Bandle Young Critics Program. Crown Family, Grosvenor Capital Management, L.P., Helen V. Brach Foundation, Butler Family Foundation, and The Siragusa Foundation are supporters of Education and Community Engagement. 

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