Preface

This anthology celebrates the ongoing collaborative work of Storycatchers Theatre and the Department of Creative Writing Fiction Program of Columbia College Chicago. Our goal is to afford bright, young talented students the opportunity to realize their developing potential, by using our blended pedagogies for the teaching of writing and theatrical performance. We should add, however, that the benefits of the Teens Together program extend beyond the youth participants; those of us who are engaged as advisors and teaching artists learn and grow, as well.

This exciting collaboration brought together Storycatchers teachers, who have used theater practices successfully over many years in order to generate dramatic material in a wide range of programs, with Department of Creative Writing fiction teachers trained to use speaking and writing exercises drawing upon the acclaimed Story Workshop® approach, originated by John Schultz and employed with students at all levels of development. Our primary goals were to improve oral and written skills of the students, develop team-building capabilities, and enhance creative problem-solving capacities. Mid-year, the students presented their initial prose stories in a musical staged-reading, effectively mixing prose, drama, music composition, and performance. This intermixing carries a particular power to tap the many creative talents of the participants. More broadly, this interdisciplinary approach clearly testifies to the power and potential of skills development through the arts.

The stories you will read reflect the uniqueness of the students’ individual voices and cultural sensibilities, vividly told with content permission encouraged by this truly imaginative blend of complementary teaching approaches.

Our thanks go first to the teachers directly involved in the collaboration: Storycatchers’ Aimee Stahlberg, who also serves as Program Manager; Cheryl Coons, Assistant Program Manager and Teaching Artist; Storycatchers’ composer, Myron Silberstein; Storycatchers’ Music Director, Justin Callis; and Creative Writing’s Ashlyn Wheeler. We would also like to thank Meade Palidofsky, Storycatchers’ Founder and Artistic Director, and Executive Director Nancy McCarty for partnering with us to realize our shared mission of civic service.

Devon Polderman
Academic Manager
Department of Creative Writing
Columbia College Chicago