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‘They try to make a difference’: Oak Park-based Social Change Theater Project aims to grow

Social Change Theater Project is a collective of teens and young adults with a mission of making a difference in the lives of others. The group typically meets at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Oak Park Public Library.

“We want to use this as an opportunity to explore our creative pulses, but also issues that young people have on their minds in order to look at ways to empower them to create change,” Larry Nance, co-facilitator for the Social Change Theater Project.

Social Change Theater Project is founded, in part, on principles in theater. There are also socioeconomic and academic components.

“In forum theatre, you create a scene in which there’s a conflict, and a conflict is driven by a social problem,” said Rachael Build, another co-facilitator for the Social Change Theater Project. “You play out the conflict, and then you invite audiences to come up and try a different approach. ... They come in, and they try to make a difference.”

Recent sessions have involved getting participants exposed to character development and vocal exercises.

“They’re curious to see how we’ll pull it together,” Nance said.

The group first started meeting over the summer. When classes resumed for fall, participants wanted the program to continue.

Oak Park resident Daniela Castillo Briones dropped in for a recent meeting to take part in activities.

“I think it’s really interesting,” she said. “It’s about learning new things, especially as it regards theater. I’m artistic, and I like a lot of it. … I’m not familiar with it. I’ve learned a lot of tips and terms about acting.”

Castillo Briones is originally from Guatemala and is new to the Oak Park area.

“In Guatemala, we didn’t have a chance to do this,” she said. “I’m now enrolled in an acting class at school.”

The group recently had its first public performance outside the library. Build said a similar type of experience is hoped for the future.

Those involved said Social Change Theater Project is in need of additional participants.

“We want people to join,” Build said. “It’s for anyone who thinks it may be fun. It involves storytelling and imagination.”

Build said it is evident the group has an ability to create change in the lives of others.

“Somebody they didn’t know can shape their perspective,” she said. “They can find ways to express themselves differently. That’s something I saw from my experience and through conversing with people.


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