Northlight Offstage: May ’19

by Northlight Theatre

Look Where We’ve Been!

In this newsletter, we want to highlight education programs throughout the city. We serve schools as far south as Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, to our west in Norwood Park and far north to suburban Libertyville.

Here’s some highlights of Northlight Education’s impressive reach:

Our West Side Story

Northlight’s youth council, or NYLC, currently includes four students from Taft High School on Chicago’s northwest side.  Jon Cohen, their theater teacher at Taft, sees the positive gains from their leadership experiences at Northlight:

“The growth that I have observed in my NYLC-affiliated students as artists and leaders has been extraordinary. The students are bolder in their artistic choices…and can incorporate peer and instructor feedback into their own work at a level far above what would normally be expected of younger artists. NYLC members are eager to take on leadership when working collaboratively, and their peers actively seek to partner with them, because they’re reliable, organized, and passionate about their work.”

Speaking Up! in Brighton Park

Northlight’s theater for social change program, Speak Up, is working with students at Kelly High School on the south side to address challenges in their community. Teaching artist Freddie Ramos says:

“Over the past month, students in Ms. Stephanie Bradley’s junior civics classes have spoken up about the ways that violence, limited sex education, and depression affect student life. Students have written personal poems, held small group conversations, and made visual art in response

to their chosen issues.  Over the course of the next month, task-forces will work together to create “actions” that take what students have learned beyond the classroom. All students have shown that they have something to say.”


Powerful Partnerships in our Own Backyard

While we’ve expanded our presence in other communities, our impact close to home has grown stronger than ever.

This winter, we partnered with Skokie Public Library and the Illinois Holocaust Museum for a performance of Martin Rising, an original play adapted from the book by Andrea Davis Pinkney.  Funded by the Skokie Community Foundation, the project brought together local teen performers, professional artists, and staff from all three organizations to create a collaborative original theater piece about racism, labor rights, and Martin Luther King’s legacy today.

The play was performed for 450 people, including 300 local middle school students.  Teen performers had the opportunity to work with a professional director and Northlight’s artistic fellow, attend a performance of Nina Simone: Four Women, and meet cast members to discuss equity, art, and social justice.

Jarrett Dapier, the Young Adult Librarian at Skokie Public Library, expressed great enthusiasm about the project:

“The Skokie Public Library’s partnership with Northlight Theater and the Illinois Holocaust Museum this winter was a rousing success. Performers reported gaining knowledge of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike and an increased understanding of the place of labor rights in the history of the civil rights movement… The library hopes to continue its partnership with Northlight on future teen theater productions”

Coming Home to Evanston!

Northlight is making plans to move back to Evanston, where our fledging theater started in 1974. A theater home of our own will provide resources for greater impact in more communities. Read the story in the Chicago Tribune.

To learn more about Northlight’s Education and Community Engagement Programs, contact Director Mara Stern at

Check out our gala video and hear what our community partners have to say about our impact: