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.


Read about some of the opportunities we have, and who is working with us now below including our artist-in-residence program, resident ensembles, community programs, and for-hire work.


Free Street’s In/House residency program is designed to incubate new projects that might not otherwise find a home in Chicago theater – we are especially committed to work by Chicago artists, BIPOC artists, queer artists, bilingual artists, youth artists, and artists actively invested in racial, economic, and environmental justice. In general, our focus is on ensemble-created performance, co-created performance, solo performance, and immersive/interactive performance, rather than traditionally scripted plays. But we are open to possibilities we’ve never even thought of! 

Want to apply? Email us at for more information. Applications for 2023 are closed, but will open in May 2024, and close in June 2024. Follow us on IG for more up to date announcements.

current in/house artists 

Rocio “Chio” Cabrera” developing “El Barzon.” Featuring a life-size talking cow, live music, dancing, and bilingual elements, El Barzon in based in the text and song of an old Mexican revolutionary folk song from the 1930s, exploring labor struggles, and creating new non-harmful systems

Tanuja Jagernauth, developing “Cancelled,” a Cancelled a devised FUN, FUNNY, SMART, HONEST play about conflict transformation. 

Kirsten Baity, developing an original piece, featuring and created by trans artists of color, will use interview transcripts, lived experiences, and prompts exploring trans joy and T4T relationships both romantic and platonic, to tell the stories of Trans Joy.

Previous In/House Artists: ChiClowns, Quenna Barrett, Jerrell L. Henderson, Melissa DuPrey, Alyssa Vera Ramos/FEMelanin, Ricardo Gamboa & Sean Parris, Chloe Johnston, Lani Montreal, Stephanie Diaz, Lauren Fields/Birch House Immersive, Aaron Aptaker

How In/House Works: 

The In/HOUSE program is a three year residency cycle that culminates in a performance or major project at Free Street. We provide professional development workshops, rehearsal/workshop/office space, theater space for performance, and production assistance (marketing, box office, board operator, on-site child care and access to supplies and materials.) Depending on the project needs, we may also provide longer term artistic support (a director or dramaturg to help you develop the project over time) and fiscal sponsorship.

We accept one artist project per year. Artists-in-residence work with Free Street staff and other artists in the program to skill build, share insight, and support each other’s efforts. While Free Street does not commit to funding the whole of an artist’s project, we will support artists in identifying funding pathways.  Our hope is that this gives artists a way to develop new projects without incurring the financial risk of a rental.

We ask that all Free Street artists offer at least one free workshop to the general public and one youth-centered workshop to our HQ ensemble (ages 13-19), in addition to attending residency workshops.

Questions? Email

Resident ensembles

Free Street hosts two resident ensembles: a multi-generational ensemble and youth ensemble. Always rotating in new artists, these ensembles spend one to two years in deep inquiry around an issue affecting Chicagoans. With environmental justice as the focus of our current work, both our ensembles are presently developing work that challenges the environmental racism across Chicago’s south and west sides. Our process partners with local organizers and activists fighting the issues we are lifting to insure our plays can act as a tactic in their larger strategy.  

Want to join? From ages 5 to 105, we are always looking for new artists to work with. To introduce yourself, email

Youth Ensemble


Featuring youth ages 13-19, the youth ensemble meets Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the school year at our Pulaski Park space. At rehearsals, youth are trained by our lead teaching artists and directors in performance, writing, critical thinking, and more. 

Youth are paid, can receive transportation support to get to and from rehearsal, are fed, and get the opportunity to perform as part of our main season in the spring of each year.

Want to join? Email

Free Street hosts open workshops for youth looking to join in January, June and September of each year. Missed the workshops? Don’t worry, just email Follow our IG or follow us on Facebook for more up-to-date information.



Bringing together artists of all ages, our multi-generational ensemble is multi-lingual, multi-racial and from all across Chicago’s neighborhoods. Our multi-generational ensemble presents their original work in parks, both of our spaces on the south and north side, and in community centers: making our work accessible to all. Previous work has included “100 Hauntings,” asking, “What haunts Chicago?” and “Meet Juan(ito) Doe,” a piece by, for, and about Chicago Southside Mexicans/Mexican-Americans.

We pay every artist that participates a minimum of $15.50/hour, provide free child co-programming for parents, and transportation support as needed. 

Questions? Email

Community events

Beyond our productions, we love to bring art and joy to our communities all year round. Focused in Back of the Yards and surrounding neighborhoods, throughout the year we host storytelling events, community markets, visual art events, and our famous Drag Loteria nights! Check out our calendar, IG and Facebook to see when our next one is!

Want to partner for event? Email

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 Managing Director at

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.