Photo by Isabella Coehlo


July-August 2016, October-December 2016

This interactive and multi-sited project is an ensemble-created performance about who, and what, haunts Chicago. We are interested in what ghost stories tell us about the city – who remains, who risks being forgotten, what reappears at unexpected moments.o.

Directed by Coya Paz and Bobby Biedrzycki


April 2016

Created by youth 13-19, this performance asks: is it even possible to stay sane in Chicago? From PTSD to the cost of medication, CRAZY offers a fast, funny, and pop-culture inspired look at the impact of politics on our collective mental health.
Directed by Katrina Dion and Steven Beaudion.


September-October 2015

The Young Fugitives’ TRACK 13 is a 50-minute physical theatre piece that takes the death of Deonta Mackey as a launching pad to explore the history of crime and policing, the present-day realities of relentless, racialized state violence and the impact of growing up in Chicago in communities under pressure.

Written and performed by The Young Fugitives

Directed by Ricardo Gamboa with Sean J.W. Parris 


The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy de las Rosas

July-August 2015

In this workshop production of Ricardo Gamboa’s play, adapted for outdoor performance , a 13-year old Mexican-American boy living in Pilsen and Little Village spends his days playing baseball, helping his abuela with her elote cart, and hiding the fact that he has telekinetic powers. When his mother, an undocumented factory worker, mysteriously disappears, Jimmy is determined to find her. With the help of two “pirates,” he finds himself facing a pack of mutant Chihuahuas and a ruthless sweatshop owner in a high-stakes battle to reclaim the streets of his neighborhood.

Written by Ricardo Gamboa

Directed by Coya Paz



B is for BANG!

April 2015

B is for BANG takes on gun culture in America, asking what freedoms the 2nd Amendment is *really* designed to protect. Created by artists age 13-19, B is for BANG flips the narrative about youth violence in Chicago to offer a dizzying and often very funny look at the larger history of guns in the United States.

Directed by Coya Paz and Nic Kay



October 2014-August 2015 (year long project)

This multi-sited and bilingual project invited people all over the city to make short performances based on their own comic-book dreamings. Who are the heroes in our city? The mega-villains? If we could choose a super power that could help us battle the forces that are against us, what would it be?


América: Sueño? O Pesadilla?

June 2014

Presented in Spanish, this promenade-style performance took audiences on a tour of the American dream, moving from scene to scene through Piotrowski Park. Convinced to by her friends that life in the United States is full of well-paying jobs, fancy cars, and nice houses, a young woman leaves her life in Mexico to find that things aren’t exactly that rosy for undocumented immigrants. Both funny and biting, this show used puppets and street-style performance to rally for creating new ideas about what it means to succeed in America.

Directed by David Pintor

Nerd, Sluts, (Commies) and Jocks

May 2014

Created by youth age 14-19, Nerds, Sluts, Commies, and Jocks pushed beyond high school politics to examine the way that labels shape our identities from the moment we are born. Boy or Girl? Black or White? Nerd or Jock? Slut or Prune? (Yes, PRUNE.) From a young woman who believes that a comic book about the French philosopher Foucault will change high school forever to the dangers of getting an atom tattoo, Nerds, Sluts, Commies, and Jocks is a fast, funny, and slightly surreal exploration of the way that economics, history, and high school get in the way of “just being yourself.”

Directed by Coya Paz and L’Oreal Jackson

The Paleta Project

Summer 2013

Paletas are the colorful, delicious popsicles popping into the hands of Chicagoans from carts pushed most often by Mexican immigrants. This traditional street fare becomes street fair with Free Street Theater’s latest endeavor in collaboration with  artist and activist Ricardo Gamboa. As summer Artist-in-Residence Gamboa will hustle with Free Street teens to create spectacle performances for the Chicago Park District and street interventions using paletas, paleta carts, and questions of community importance.

Directed by Ricardo Gamboa

Culminating Performance at Free Street Theater directed by Katrina Dion

Why Didn’t The Chicken Cross The Road?

Summer 2013

Featuring a human size chicken, and a cautionary tale about prank calling the mayor, Why Didn’t the Chicken Cross the Road? is a funny and sometimes surreal look at why anyone in their right mind might choose to stay on their side of the street. Created by Free Street LiVE (Little Village Ensemble).

Directed by L’Oreal Jackson and David Pintor

DOPE! 420 Stories About Pot, Weed, Kush, Parents, Prisons and People.

April 25-May 4, 2013

From a confusing grade-school D.A.R.E program to a woman busted crossing the border with a gas tank packed with marijuana, Free Street Theatre’s DOPE follows the life of a joint from seed to eventual consumption. Created by the Free Street Resident Ensemble at Pulaski Park.

Directed by Gio Gonzalez and Coya Paz

Boxed In: A Free World

Summer 2013

Teens explore the traps and binding situations youth experience due to negative influences of the media, peer pressure, problems at home, and identity crisis.


March 16 – March 24, 2012

From online breakups and Facebook personas to the pressures of live interactions, the Free Street Youth Ensemble presents a funny and fast paced look at the role of technology in shaping today’s relationships and revolutions.


May 18–May 26, 2012

Two companions travel through a strange land looking for themselves in a universe where you must create yourself.

Directed by Arraceli Arroyo and D-Nick The Microphone Misfit (Dominique Stockman)
Choreographed by Kin-Solo


Free Street Theater & Collaboraction Theater Company present
a touring street performance about reflection, identity and choice.


February 5-May 19, 2011

A rock n’ roll breakdown of Abraham Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs.

Created and performed by the Resident Ensemble
Directed by Ron Bieganski
Music Direction by Stone


May 6-28, 2011

A hip hop and spoken word composition about breaking the myths on sexual violence.

Created and Performed by Free Street Ensemble at Little Village

Summer Rituals

Each summer, Free Street youth perform in public spaces throughout Chicago such as The Art Institute of Chicago sculpture gardens; the Crown Fountain and the Wrigley Square and Millennium Park Monument at Millennium Park; various lines on the EL train and numerous locations in Chicago’s downtown area. As a group, the youth explore repetition as a pathway to ritual and ceremony through movement in space and place.   Emphasis is placed on spontaneous performance, direct audience engagement and site-specific movement installations.


2009/10 Season


June-July 2009

A performance of individual and group micro-performances encompassing movement in direct response to their immediate environment such as audience and location. The youth explored repetition as a pathway to ritual and ceremony through movement in space and place. Locations: The Art Institute of Chicago sculpture gardens; the Crown Fountain and the Wrigley Square and Millennium Park Monument at Millennium Park; various lines on the EL train and numerous locations in Chicago’s downtown area.


January 9-Feb 6, 2010

A free-form ensemble production featuring vignettes, monologues and songs. Free Street youth explored the emotional landscape of their age group in an attempt to identify behaviors leading to violence. Through rigorous workshops, they were able to map the challenges in transitioning from youth to adult. The youth identified these challenges as the contemporary seven deadly sins of their generation: Emotional Driving; Suicidal Pride; Sacrificing Identity to Ease Pain; Striving for Perfection; Being a Validation Junky; Assuming; Invincibility, and; Thinking Life is Elsewhere. Performed at Free Street Theater.


March 20-April 10, 2010

An ensemble production immersed in the last moments of Abraham Lincoln’s life depicting Lincoln going through five stages of grief in his final moments: shock, anger, bargaining, loneliness and acceptance. Based on the youth’s explorations on Lincoln’s mental depression, the difficulties facing the fragmented nation he was elected to preserve and the influence of his words. The youth created and performed the play within a string-based musical installation they invented. Performed at Free Street Theater.


April 19 – May 6, 2010

In collaboration with the Makhampom Theater of Chiang Dao, youth and staff from both companies and created an original performance that toured smaller communities in the Chiang Dao and Chiang Mai province area. Together with the Thai youth they chose “Perfection” as the theme to base their artistic exchange. The final production built around the ideas of perfection in five scenes, performed in both English and Thai. Both youth groups also created original music using Thai tonal structures with found instruments.


2008/09 Season


June-July 2008

Free Street’s summer youth artists performed a series of movements in opposite response to their immediate environments. Site-specific performances saw the youth form a perfect square in the daytime crowd of Daley Plaza, or introducing spectacle into public spaces. Locations: The James R. Thompson Center; Daley Plaza; Millennium Park; various lines on the EL train and numerous locations in Chicago’s downtown area.


January 24-March 21, 2009

An ensemble play created by Free Street youth in response to the crumbling communities around them. Based on their real life experiences and research on events leading up to the housing market crash and its impact on immigrant communities, this play is a story about Mexican-American family that deals with the loss of their home and the foreclosure of the American Dream. Performed at Free Street Theater.


April 18-May 19, 2009

An ensemble play based on detailed explorations on the Civil Rights Movement, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, with the play centering on the history of the U.S. education system and the academic disenfranchisement that students of color have faced dating as far back as slavery. Performed at Free Street Theater.