Participate & Audition

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Anyone Can Be An Artist

From ages 5 to 105, MFAs to community choir members, at Free Street we are all artists. Together, we share, create, receive and cope with stories of real lived experiences. Join an ensemble, share a story, or attend a workshop and let’s celebrate people, diversity and Chicago’s history through theater that supports social, racial and economic equity.


Want to get involved with upcoming projects and workshops? Our IG and FB pages have the most up to date information. On IG follow us @free_st_theater, and click here to navigate to our Facebook page. 

Have questions? Email us at for more information.

Youth Ensemble

UPCOMING AUDITIONS: Thursday September 23,  5pm-6:30pm & Saturday October 2, 12pm-1:30pm – Both auditions are at Pulaski Park, 1419 W Blackhawk St. Floor 3 Chicago, IL 60642

Free Street’s Youth Ensembles are made up of 14-19 year olds looking to create original plays about issues affecting Chicago youth. They come to us with varying levels of theatrical experience, from none, to “I’ve been acting since I was 3.” We meet students where they are at, focusing on their individual strengths, while training our ensemble in performance, writing, critical thinking, and research skills. In the past, we’ve looked at water justice, a history of labor in Back of the Yards, environmental racism, to name a few. Our youth ensembles meet multiple times per week to rehearse and train in order to make this all possible. For our productions, Free Street hires professional designers to work with the ensemble and directors to create the play of their dreams.

Our youth ensemble is the chance to grow your artistic skills, collaborate with other youth interested in the intersections of the arts and social justice, and become part of a 50 plus year legacy of creating theatre by, for, about, with and in Chicago’s communities.

Free Street has two Youth Ensembles*:

Pulaski Park: Located near Division and Ashland, our Pulaski Park Youth Ensemble brings youth in from all across Chicago, focusing their plays on citywide issues.

The Storyfront: Our Storyfront space, located in Back of the Yards, is home to our Storyfront Youth Ensemble, which is made up of students from Back of the Yards, McKinley Park, Gage Park and Englewood, focusing on more hyperlocal issues.

*During our 2021-2022 season these two youth ensembles are collaborating together.

What Youth Receive

By participating in our youth ensemble, ensemble members gain the following:

-Resume builders, and tips. FST can be put on your resume.

-Recommenders for colleges, jobs, and other programs

-MONEY! We pay our youth to be a part of the ensemble.

-Connections to a larger Chicago artistic community: Free Street brings in professional artists to lead guest workshops.

-Notoriety: Free Street’s Youth Ensemble is nationally recognized. We have been featured in local newspapers such as Southside Weekly, and national magazines like Teen Vogue.

-Connections to local grassroots organizations: Each year we partner with a local organization or individual who is fighting the injustice we are investigating. Youth will understand how to fit artistic work into an overall activist strategy, and work with these organizations to practice this.

Interested? Attend the audition, email our Director of Education, Katrina at to learn more or fill out this interest form:

be of service

At Free Street, we offer all of our shows for free or pay-what-you-can, and pay all of our artists a minimum of $15/hour. Doesn’t sound like the best business plan, does it? This is where you come in! We are always looking support from people who believe in our mission, and want to help us do what we do do best. Currently, we are looking for board members to help us fundraise, volunteers to complete tasks, and in-kind service donations (such as PR support) to help us extend our reach.

Interested in being of service? Email our Executive Director at


What’s the difference between The Storyfront & Pulaski?

While both ensembles receive the same training, The Storyfront Youth Ensemble is made up only of youth from Back of the Yards, McKinley Park, Engelwood & nearby neighborhoods. Pulaski Park ensemble members hail from all over the city.

What support is offered to youth?

Youth are paid through this opportunity, either via After School Matters or Free Street. We assist youth with transportation when necessary, feed youth either snacks or meals depending on the rehearsal type, and have resource connections for tutoring, mental health, housing, and more.

Propose a Project

Every year Free Street develops work of 2-3 artists through our In/House series. Free Street seeks to support the work of those who are historically underrepresented on Chicago stages. We prioritize ensemble created and solo work that tells Chicago’s stories. AKA we are very unlikely to produce your new version of Twelfth Night featuring mice.  We accept projects at all stages of development. Anywhere from developed and ready to perform to “I had a dream last night and now I must make this play!”

Making new work can be scary. Free Street seeks to reduce the financial risk of this process by providing space, marketing, board operators, box office support and mentorship.

Training,   workshops, and more


Free Street is a hub for training, community led workshops, and skill shares. Want to participate? Sign up for our mailing list, or follow us on Facebook.

Want to hire us? Free Street can custom design a workshop, dialogue or presentation to help your organization have difficult conversations with joy & generosity, through our service Free Street Talks.

Interested in learning more? Email us at

Have an experience to share about Free Street? Share it here.