Members of the collective contribute to Free Street in various capacities- creating public programs at Pulaski Park or in Little Village, serving as a mentor to youth at Free Street, advising or participating in projects, and being an ambassador for the work of Free Street and its collective members.

Currently, the collective includes:

LILY BE: “Working with Free Street is a bit surreal. I am really excited to adapt my stories into plays and performance pieces for Free Street youth. Children and youth are our planet’s most valuable resource and I’m happy that I get to work with them at Free Street.”

BOBBY BIEDRZYCKI: “Free Street is where I go to listen and learn and laugh and make beautiful things with people I love. This place, these people, help me understand the world and take action. Free Street makes me a better human.”

ISABELLA COEHLO: “During my time working at Free Street I have been constantly inspired by  both the ensemble who is enthusiastic, creative, and ready to ask the hard questions about our community and the students I have the privilege to get to play and create with.”

KATRINA DION (staff): ““Since beginning with Free Street in 2012, I knew this was a space I wanted to grow in. It is a unique and beautiful organization where we teach and support each other.”

MELISSA DUPREY (staff): “”For a few years now, I have been a strong advocate of the #makeyourown movement, especially when it comes to the representation of Latin@s in the arts. As a solo artist, however, I realize that #makeyourown doesn’t have to mean “on your own”. The power of the collective is a shared sense of ownership of stories, and advocacy for marginalized voices. For me, it’s the root of why I am so dedicated to my community, as well as sharing stories of struggles and joy. I believe Free Street Theatre has a heart in both community and marginalized voices, so I couldn’t be more honored to have a home here.”


DAWN HERRERA HELPHAND: “Democracy, community, performance, politics–Free Street Theater embodies all of my best hopes! There is no greater pleasure than watching youth speak the truths they’ve come to together in front of a rapt crowd.”

SEAN JAMES WILLIAM PARRIS: “Free Street matters because it provides a platform for voices that have been snuffed out or looked over. The marginalized are no longer in the margin. It provides a space where economics are not the determining factor on whether or not you can see a show. “

COYA PAZ (staff): “Free Street is urgently needed in Chicago, where our theater is as segregated as our city. I love that we are a company that has been working to build community across division for almost 50 years, and that we work so hard to break down the barriers that keep people from making and seeing theater. I believe that theater matters, and I believe that if theater matters, it should be for everyone. Free Street makes that our mission.”

DAVID PINTOR: “Free Street Theater is a true representation of Chicago, as a whole! Don’t believe the hype about those touristy mega theaters that make Chicago theater without Chicagoans… I know! Trust in Free Street because we make programming and productions that are relatable, affordable and truly inclusive.”

KARLA ESTELA RIVERA: “Free Street Theater is one of the few spaces to exist where youth from across the city can come together and create stories that show the common struggles of urban young people in Chicago. Going to their shows revitalizes me as a storyteller. This space is vital, relevant, messy, and thought-provoking. We need these stories in our lives.”

ELIJAH RUIZ: “I love working with Free Street because it truly builds community with theater. Each individual is given a voice and a platform for their artistic creativity, and everyone’s experiences are treated with respect. Free Street welcomes people of all types – especially with the pay-what-you-can model – and I love working with Free Street because it literally represents the diverse communities and inhabitants of Chicago. I also love working with Free Street because it makes smart, funny, clever, genuine work that doesn’t pander to a certain set of people or ideologies.”


STEPHANIE DÍAZ: “Free Street gives young artists a place to be themselves and create great, relevant, vital art with professional artists who recognize the inherent worth of their voices NOW. Presenting my work with the support of FST’s visionary leadership and their young artists has been an immense privilege, instrumental in developing my work further and in creating a rare opportunity to pass on an ancient art form (puppetry). I could not be more grateful.”

MORGAN GREENE: “Free Street is a place that challenges its artists and audiences to change the world – by speaking truth to power, being excellent listeners, and sharing a lot of laughter. Working with Free Street makes me a braver artist.”

KATIE PROUT: “Free Street is a place where artists and people of all ages come together to do real and meaningful work with humor, style, and grace. It’s a place where I feel like my voice is heard, my tools are appreciated, and where I learn, learn, learn.”