American Theater Co.'s Youth Ensemble presents THE PROJECT(S) Adaptation, 7/14-23

By: May. 24, 2017
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American Theater Company's (ATC) Youth Ensemble presents a 50-minute abridgement by Jess McLeod and Sarah Slight of the critically acclaimed The Project(s)-a documentary play on Chicago's public housing conceived, co-written and originally directed by ATC's late Artistic Director PJ Paparelli and co-written by Joshua Jaeger-July 14 - 23, 2017. Directed by Monty Cole, the production features Youth Ensemble members Latrel Crawford, Danielle Jean-Baptiste, Alex King, Li Luzietti, Jenna Makkawy, Liliana Mastroianni, Azalia Resendiz, Keenya Riley, Ireon Roach, Leah Schiffman, Leojae Steward, and Ervin Tobar. The Youth Ensemble is meeting with Chicago public housing residents originally interviewed for the play, in order to learn more about the documentary theater-making process and help with character development prior to performing the piece.

The Youth Ensemble identifies exceptionally talented, motivated and disciplined rising juniors who have a strong interest in pursuing theater at a higher level. These students audition to form a performance ensemble and become part of an intense two-year training program at ATC. Each summer, the Youth Ensemble produces a modern American documentary play, allowing the students to confront timely issues, while learning about various perspectives on a central topic.

Earlier this year, ATC collaborated with the National Public Housing Museum (NPHM) to co-create an educational curriculum in Chicago Public Schools based on The Project(s). The curriculum and the newly condensed production of The Project(s) were both piloted in schools between the months of February and May, 2017.

"For the past eight months, Jess McLeod and I have worked to condense The Project(s) into a companion piece for a national curriculum focusing on social justice," says Sarah Slight. "In a time when our educational systems are being threatened, we are lucky to have a partner in the National Public Housing Museum which shares our belief that arts and culture have the power to foster diversity and inclusion, to create a more participatory democracy, and to help educate the next generation of citizens. We are shamelessly proud of our Youth Ensemble who will be the first to perform the condensed version of The Project(s) publicly with Monty Cole at the helm. It is a wonderful opportunity to continue to champion a program and group of students that was incredibly important to PJ by performing his magnum opus."

From 2010 until 2014, Paparelli conducted over 100 interviews with scholars, historians, and former and current residents of Chicago's public housing, including Cabrini-Green, Robert Taylor Homes, Wentworth Gardens and Ida B. Wells Homes. The world premiere of The Project(s) at ATC in 2015 interwove this verbatim interview material with a cappella music, body percussion and stepping.

Tickets to the Youth Ensemble's adaptation of The Project(s) are available by calling the ATC box office at 773-409-4125, or visiting A $15 donation is suggested per ticket. Performances run July 14- 23: Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.

The Project(s) was originally funded through a grant from The Chicago Community Trust, who continued to fund The Project(s) with an additional $75,000 grant to ATC for the development of the play, and a $25,000 grant to the NPHM for the development of the curriculum.

About American Theater Company

American Theater Company (ATC) challenges and inspires its community by exploring stories that ask the question, "What does it mean to be an American?" ATC's Ensemble includes Patrick Andrews, Kareem Bandealy, Jaime Castañeda, Kelly O'Sullivan, Tyler Ravelson, and Sadieh Rifai.

American Theater Company is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, and the Shubert Foundation.


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