Chicago—Lookingglass Theatre Company announces the formation of a Department of Curiosity, which will now house its Department of Education and Department of Community Engagement. The department will be led by Lizzie Perkins, Director of Education, and founding Ensemble Member Andrew White, Director of Community Engagement.
Curiosity is a driving impulse behind Lookingglass’ work on stage and in the community. Guided by the Company’s mission to make theatre “exhilarating, inspirational, and accessible to all,” Lookingglass Education and Community Engagement programs cultivate creativity, expand access, and transform classrooms and communities across the City. By integrating the two departments under the Department of Curiosity, Perkins and White will be better positioned to expand their programs, communicate their positive impact on the Chicago community to both internal and external stakeholders, and expand partnerships with other cultural, arts, and non-arts organizations.
Andrew White, Director of Community Engagement and a founding Ensemble Member says, “Curiosity is what propels Alice on her initial trip down the rabbit hole, it is what fuels the company’s artistic creation onstage, and it is the catalyst that drives the community-based work that we’ve done since the company’s beginnings. Whether in the theatre or in classrooms across Chicago, in a park district facility or medical setting or any of the multiple places and ways we engage in neighborhoods throughout the City, we are perennially curious about how art and artists can be in service to our community, and we nurture and cultivate that same spirit of curiosity and discovery in others.”
Lizzie Perkins, Director of Education, says, “Lookingglass has a dedicated history of engaging students, families and participants of all ages in the active exploration of story and the development of expressive and transformative skills; this work is rooted in the company’s core values of invention, transformation, and collaboration. While Education and Community Engagement programs have always shared a pedagogical and philosophical approach, by joining these programs in one department, we look forward to deepening the impact of our programs.”
Since 1990, Lookingglass artists and teachers have instilled the Company’s core values of collaboration, invention, and transformation in more than 50,000 people in communities across Chicago. Each year Lookingglass partners with more than 20 community-based organizations and teaches in more than 70 classrooms in 20 schools, including 15 Chicago Public Schools, serving more than 5,600 students, teachers, and community members. Lookingglass addresses each partner’s specific needs and goals, co-designing programs in which all participants are “changed, charged, and empowered.
Lookingglass’ Education programs partner with schools across the Chicagoland area, bringing artists to classrooms and entire classrooms to the theatre. Onsite residencies at schools and other organizations that serve youth provide individualized drama programs that are available both during school and after school. A residency may focus on arts integration programming (e.g., using theatre to enhance student understanding of literacy) or may be focused on drama skills (e.g., playwrighting, ensemble-building, or the actor’s tools). Lookingglass also offers schools the opportunity to attend Student Matinees, which include a field trip to Lookingglass for a performance and post-show Q&A session with the actors, as well as pre- and post-show workshops. Our Studio Classes and Summer Camp programs offer students from ages 3 to 18 years the opportunity to work in Lookingglass’ collaborative, process-based approach. The Lookingglass Young Ensemble is an audition-based corps of 30 students from 4th-12th grade who engage in a full-year experience, working with Lookingglass artists on the Company’s ensemble-based process, skills, and tools for creating original work, culminating in two performances each spring.
Lookingglass’ Community Engagement programs are focused primarily on deepening the experience of Lookingglass’ work for audiences and artists alike, and broadening community access to Lookingglass art and artists. The REFLECT Series of panel discussions offers a deep dive into the varied themes and content of each production, with local experts offering insights and diverse perspectives during Sunday post-show conversations. Our Community Partner Subscription program opens the entire Lookingglass season to constituents from select non-profit organizations at no cost. Our Civic Practice Partnerships bring Lookingglass teaching artists and their unique skill-set—including curiosity, creativity, and collaboration—to help address the unique need, challenge, or question that an organization is facing. Examples of such partnerships include delivering improvisation exercises to help patients with cognitive impairment and their caregivers; working with the Chicago Park District to design a process to re-engage community members in their neighborhood parks; and working with low-wage women workers to develop better tools for self-advocacy in the workplace.
About Lookingglass Theatre Company
Inventive. Collaborative. Transformative. Lookingglass Theatre Company, recipient of the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award, was founded in 1988 by eight Northwestern University students. Now in its 31st Season, Lookingglass is home to a multi-disciplined ensemble of artists who create story-centered theatrical work that is physical, aurally rich and visually metaphoric. The Company has staged 67 world premieres, received 151 Joseph Jefferson Award Nominations, and work premiered at Lookingglass has been produced in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Princeton, Hartford, Kansas City, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Louisville and St. Louis. Lookingglass original scripts have been produced across the United States. In 2016, Lookingglass received the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions and in 2017, was the recipient of the League of Chicago Theatres’ Artistic Achievement Award.
The Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago’s landmark Water Tower Water Works opened in June 2003. In addition to developing and presenting Ensemble work, Lookingglass Education and Community programs encourage creativity, teamwork and confidence with thousands of community members each year.
Lookingglass Theatre Company continues to expand its artistic, financial, and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Artistic Director Heidi Stillman, Executive Director Rachel L. Fink, Producing Director Philip R. Smith, Connectivity and Engagement Director Andrew White, General Manager Michele Anderson, a 24-member artistic ensemble, 23 artistic associates, an administrative staff, and a dedicated board of directors led by Chairman Nancy Timmers and President Richard Chapman. For more information, visit lookingglasstheatre.org.