Staged Reading: November 11

Attend a FREE Staged Reading of a brand new work by Chicago Street Theatre's very own Tom O'Neill.


by Tom O'Neill

November 11 in the Edith B. Wood Studio (Upstairs) at 8pm

If you're a fan of the "B" Movies of a bygone era, VAMPIRE ROBOTS of GIANT SPIDER ISLAND is a show you will love! Packed with laughs, thrills, and science fiction mayhem, you can be part of helping CST and the playwright further develop this comedy for future performances.

Featuring Andy Urschel, Kat Lutze, Matt McCann, Daniel Matern, Mary A. Bird Matern, Tim Gleason, and Jason Kaplan. 

RSVP on CST's Facebook page.


Chicago Street Theatre's Childrens Theatre Works Fall semester begins the week of September 12 and ends with a Showcase & Certificate Ceremony the week of December 12. Take a look at the offerings below and visit our education page for details on registering!


Designed to continue developing young theatre artists’ understanding of the director’s craft, this elective will explore and further apply skills developed in Directing I,including vision & concept, script analysis, blocking, collaboration, and rehearsal techniques. Students will choose a 5 minute piece, cast it, set up a Director’s Notebook, and rehearse the piece for performances during our Showcase Week. Must have taken Directing I (Special or Elective) to participate in this class.

  • MONDAYS (Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, Nov. 7, 14, 28 & Dec. 5 - Performance during Showcase Week on December 12), 6:30-8:00 pm with Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano

SEEDS (Grades 1 & 2)

This class is an energy-packed exploration of imagination.  The emphasis is on creative expression through structured play.  Young students learn to “act out” a story while important skills such as listening, concentration, and collaboration are introduced. New and returning students will benefit from this class.

  • New & Continuing - TUESDAYS, 5:30-6:30 pm with TBD
  • Advanced Session - THURSDAYS, 4:30-5:30 pm with Jenna Johnson

SPROUTS (Grades 3 & 4)

This class is an exciting initiation where students are guided through the foundational elements of drama (who, what, and where).  While acting out favorite stories and playing theatre games, students explore imagination and creative expression with a purpose.  The emphasis is on extending concentration and focus while illuminating discipline, self-esteem, empathy, understanding, and basic problem solving.  New and returning students will benefit from this class.

  • Advanced Session - MONDAYS, 4:30-5:30 pm with Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano
  • New & Continuing - THURSDAYS, 5:30-6:30 pm with Jenna Johnson

SPROUTS 2 (Grades 5-6)

In this stimulating class, students learn to sharpen their work in improvisation and theatre games while transitioning into scripted material. The concept of “playing” the wants and needs of characters is introduced, as they are taught to understand the importance of “listening.” The continued emphasis on concentration, discipline and self-esteem is enhanced through collective and constructive assessment. New and returning students will benefit from this class.

  • Advanced Session - WEDNESDAYS, 4:30-5:30 pm with Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano
  • New & Continuing - THURSDAYS, 6:30-7:30 pm with Jenna Johnson

BUDS (Grades 7-8)

In this exploratory class, students continue to sharpen their work in improvisation and theatre games while creating and developing original scripted material. The concept of “playing” the wants and needs of characters is applied through the creation of scenes. The continued emphasis on concentration, discipline and self-esteem is enhanced through collective and constructive assessment. New and returning students will benefit from this class.

  • Advanced "Teen Ensemble" Members - WEDNESDAYS, 5:30-6:30 pm with Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano
  • New & Continuing - MONDAYS, 5:30-6:30 pm with Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano

BLOOMS (Grades 9-12)

This challenging course focuses on bringing a character to life through an advanced exploration of text. Students learn to identify and play objectives( wants/needs), how to break a scene into beats, and continue to explore “listening and responding.” Students will also develop skills to analyze and critique dramatic work and suggest alternative artistic choices. New and returning students will benefit from this class.

  • Advanced "Teen Ensemble" Members - WEDNESDAYS, 6:30-8:00 pm with Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano


Advanced BUDS & BLOOMS students are invited to become a Member of the Teen Ensemble, performing in the 2nd Annual CTW Teen Festival in May.  During the Fall semester, we will work on character development, script analysis and ensemble, while exploring the performance pieces.  They will be chosen for the first day of the Fall semester.  During the Spring semester, we will apply the skills learned in the Fall, and rehearse the plays for performance in the Festival.  Signing up for these advanced classes requires a commitment to both the Fall and Spring Semesters and availability for the following dates:  Tech Week: May 2, 3 & 4 (7:30-9:30 pm).  Performances: Friday, May 5, Saturday, May 6 & Wednesday, May 10 at 7:00 pm, along with Saturday, May 6 at 2:30 pm.

Now Hiring: Part-Time Instructor

Chicago Street Theatre is currently seeking a part-time Instructor for our Education Program, beginning September 10, 2014.  For a complete description of our program including mission, please review our education page.  Ideally, qualified applicants will have a Bachelor's degree in theatre, with a minimum of 1-2 years classroom experience.  Please email letter of application along with CV and list of three professional references via email BY AUGUST l8, 2014 to: Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano, Director of Education. No phone calls please. Hourly compensation commensurate with experience.


Chicago Street Theatre's Education Program is about to celebrate its 20th year of providing the community with theatre arts classes for youth. This summer is no exception as we are offering a wide variety of Summer Camps and Workshops to help young people "Get into the Act" throughout the upcoming month's. Registration for classes can be done online or by contacting CST's Box Office at 219-464-1636 or in person weekdays 10 AM to 2 PM. 


This Summer Chicago Street Theatre offers a choice of eight unique and exciting summer camps for ages 5 to adult.  Camps begin in June, end in July, and range from one to six weeks.  Our popular Shakespeare Workshop for teens will focus on Romeo & Juliet and be presented at the end of July on CST's mainstage. Students will also participate in our Shakespeare at Central Park Plaza event, the weekend of July 11 & 12. Students ages 8 through 13 can also have fun while learning about the Bard with our brand new, Shakespeare In Shorts program.  This new Camp is held three mornings a week between 9 and 11 AM and culminates with two mainstage performances along side the teens. 


For those interested in what happens on the technical side of theatre, we offer Booth CampBe Backstage and our new, Costume Workshop.  All provide hands-on training and experience, and the ability to run a show on our state of the art lighting and sound computers.  Students enrolled in these programs will also take part in the mainstage productions done by both Summer Shakespeare camps.


Children ages 5 to 7  and 8 to 11 can begin their journey in theatre with two summer camps designed to foster their imaginations and understanding of theatre. Stage One, provides a safe and fun environment for getting introduced to being on stage with a week long day camp offered June 23-27 and July 14-18. For those just a bit older and maybe a little more experienced, Stage Two provides three weeks of exciting exploration in creative dramatics.  


Kids aren't the only ones who can get involved in theatre this summer. Adults interested in exploring theatre will greatly enjoy our four-week, Sacred Drama Workshop, which will explore works for the church and the stage based on religious themes. This summer's text will be the book of Ruth read during Shavuot during the Jewish calendar year and Advent in the Christian tradition. The workshop will explore techniques and exercises for dramatizing the scripture in a worship setting, as well as secular plays inspired by the story. 


Instructors facilitating the Summer Camps this year:


Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano, Director of Education & Instructor, received her M.F.A. from the Actors Studio Drama School in NYC. She has taught privately in Chicago and New York, along with international workshops in England and Venezuela. She currently teaches at Columbia College-Chicago. 


Kari-Anne Innes, PhD., Instructor, is a lecturer at Valparaiso University with a passion for directing young actors in adaptations of literature, espercially Shakespeare. She previously directed with the Young Actors Shakespeare Workshop at Valparaiso University for eleven years. She has written and performed the liturgical dramas The First Witnesses, co-written with Dr. John Steven Paul, and Widows, Brides, and Bridegrooms, as well as the solo performances Performing Lydias and An Evening with Pilate's Wi[ves].


Kat Lutze graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis with a degree in Theater Arts Administration. While at Augsburg she was the President of Music + Theater, a student run Musical Theater program for which she wrote, produced, and directed two collaborative musicals. At Chicago Street, Kat was the Assistant Director and Stage Manager for Comedy of Errors and Elizabeth in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Past productions at CST have included roles in Julius Caesar, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Alice in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, Letters Home, and many others.


Parents can also get into the act with CST's new volunteer program Parents in the Wings to find out how they can support the arts and educational programming at Chicago Street Theatre. Registrations are open through July and the start of each camp, however enrollment is limited. Affordable payment plans are available. For detailed camp descriptions, dates, times and convenient on-line registration, click here.


Chicago Street's Educational Programming boasts an impressive Alumni of students who have gone on to work professionally in theatre, television and film. Among these students are: film and television actress, Carly Schroeder; lighting designer, Aaron Porter; Playwright/Activist Mark Blane; Singer/Songwriter, Sarah Dooley; and Playwright, Julia Weiss whose satirical comedy TAMMY: A Coming of Age Story About a Girl Who is Part T-Rex will be produced next February as part of CST's 60th Season.

CaST Profile: Braden Cleary

"It has truly been a rewarding experience watching Braden develop over the past four years.  He has grown from an Intern to an insightful and generous instructor, and from an enthusiastic teen actor to a dedicated and disciplined artist.  He is genuine and unique - a wonder of potential that I am grateful to have had the pleasure of knowing and working with.  I look forward to watching as he continues to define and shape himself and others."  -Director of Education Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano
Braden Cleary is a familiar face at CST... Largely due to being the "poster child" for this year's The Comedy of Errors Shakespeare in the Park production. Not only does this Indiana University Junior; majoring in theatre; have a role in our mainstage production, but he is also the instructor/director for this years Summer Shakespeare Workshop. The students will wrap up their summer session by doing their version of The Comedy of Errors this weekend on Friday at 5:30 PM and Saturday at 2:30 PM. 
Cleary began with CST when he went to an open casting call for Ascension Day when he was a Junior at Wheeler High School. He landed a role in the play and began taking classes at CST with the play's director Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano. "Lisa really taught me a lot of hands-on skills that are a foundation for how I approach working on any type of production," said Braden.
During his Senior year he was took a course to find an internship in a field he was interested in pursuing. Braden asked to become an intern with the Educational Programming with CST and assisted Lisa and Peyton Daley with classes. During this time he took parts in various plays like PinocchioThe Man Who Came to Dinner, Frost/Nixon, and worked backstage as well as helped with the Summer Shakespeare Workshop.He says that one of the things he really appreciates about being part of CST is that the group took him in and got him involved while always treating him with respect. "I've never had anyone here ever treat me as if I were a kid or anything less than an equal and I think that is so important for the students coming through here to have the same experiences I've had."
Braden says that the process of directing the student production of the same show he is currently in has been an "interesting experience" because it's an adaptation by Kari-Anne Innes that pits rival high schools against each other at a mall. "I've had to be very careful not to direct the students where I'm saying things like- Well in our version we do this this way..." Cleary admitted that he thought it was good for his students to see him in the Graney version because he thinks that watching their teacher and the other cast members "go all out" showed his students how the could "step up" their own performances and be "less self conscious." He believes it also helps teach them where all this training can be applied, because his students know how he "was where they are" not that long ago. 
In the Sean Graney version of The Comedy of Errors, Braden plays Dromio of Syracuse the playful sidekick to his master and Dromio of Ephesus the the nervous "whipping post" for his master. Fellow cast member Eric Brant said that Cleary is a "joy" to work with especially with the improvised elements of the show because "he takes whatever anybody throws at him and finds a way to make it better."
Braden said that he loves the people at CST because the experiences they've given him helped become the Education Coordinator for a student run theatre group at IU. He added that he also loves returning to "this place where people have a sense of pride and professionalism about their work. It shows me that people really love the what they're doing here."
-Eric Brant

Introducing the SPARK Program

Posted by Jonni Pera, Board Chair and SPARK volunteer.

Saturday, March 16th was an exciting day at CST. We began our SPARK program, SPecial ARtists Kollaboration. Fulfilling our mission to reach out to the whole community, we have begun a theatre program to include artists with special needs. And we were wowed by the small group that attended!!

Lisa Formosa-Parmiagano, our Director of Education, led this theatre workshop based on her basic theatre education curriculum. The group of 5 young women met and discussed their background and desire to be creative. We toured the building including the rehearsal studio, sound and light booth, the make-up and green room, the paint room, and lighting room, and also the costume room. They all agreed they really enjoyed the costume room where they got to try on wigs and fur coats. They also enjoyed trying out the follow spot and seeing where the actors put on their costumes and make-up before a show.

We returned to the rehearsal studio to ‘play’ some theatre games.  The final game was getting to select a character hat and becoming that character as they interacted with Lisa.

As a helper for the day, I must say I left the theatre excited and happy! The group thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to explore the theatre and have a chance to act the part of their hats. “This was a really special day! I loved getting to be a part of the theatre!” Kitty stated as she left CST.

“We want to come for another theatre class!!” was a comment heard from more than one of the students.

Lisa and I both agree, “This class was so rewarding!”

The importance of exposing kids to the arts

By June Saavedra

"Dragonfly" in CST's A Midsummer Night's Dream

In the mid ‘90s I worked with Redmoon Theatre in Chicago.  I was assistant director of the Redmoon Children’s Company, a name we officially gave to a group of children who were benefiting from our community outreach program.  These impoverished inner-city kids regularly attended our free Saturday morning art class and regularly performed in the All Hallow’s Eve parade and spectacle and the Winter Pageant.  We decided to call them a company and create extra gigs exclusively for them.

When one of our core families consisting of the siblings Edwin, Osvaldo, and Veva moved to a new neighborhood, I would have to pick them up and drive them to the workshop or rehearsals or to other theaters to see other types of performance or to museums.  One time, I arrived to pick them up and their mom told me that they were being punished for something (and I assure you it was not anything schoolwork related, just saying) and so they weren’t allowed to go.  I was disappointed to say the least.  When I arrived at rehearsal kid-less, my colleagues were equally disappointed.  One was outraged enough to claim, “That’s like telling your kids they can’t go to school!”  “I know, right,” and then we all sighed in unison.

Maybe their mom just didn’t get it.  Maybe she just didn’t get how important, no, how essential, it is to expose children to art.  Better yet, if the kids are up to it, allow them to create art.  And best of all, share their art with their community.  It’s an intrinsic part of being a child – creativity.  Being creative drives their play and thus their learning.  Children have an impulse to make something new out of interesting materials and show it to another.  Children also have a predisposition to be creative with their bodies and voices.  Children want to create something and then show it.  Everyone – the children and the community – benefits from such endeavors.

This mom gets it.

My daughter will shout at me 87 times, “Mama, look what I can do!” while in the pool.  She goes underwater.  That’s the amazing thing she figured out she could do with her body and she wants me to see it.  Be her audience.  Knowing what we were in for this summer (all three kids and I performed in Chicago Street Theatre’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream), I would think to myself, “Oh darling, you think going underwater is something amazing you can do?  Just wait.  You are going to do something so amazing.  You are going to be on a stage…”

I began telling the kids a story of a girl and a boy who were in love but weren’t allowed to get married.  Another boy also loved this girl but she didn’t love him, another girl did.  They all decided to run away to the forest where magical fairies lived and played tricks on people.

They begged for more.

I told the kids that a fairy king and queen were arguing.  The king had a sidekick named Puck and he was mischievous.  A group of actors (who, um, weren’t very good and so that is very funny) show up in the woods and Puck turns one of them into a donkey.  When the kids’ laughter subsided, I added, and then because of a magic spell the fairy queen falls in love with him. 

Squeals of laughter.  Oh, and speaking of falling in love, Puck plays more tricks on those boys and girls in the forest and makes both boys fall in love with the wrong girl.

Do you know who wrote this amazing story?  William Shakespeare.

When my children showed up at rehearsal for the first time, I’m not sure what everyone thought.  Typically the rule is no animals or children.  Some may have been delighted by the idea of cute little children in the play.  Some may have thought the children would be distracting, naughty, destructive, demanding, a nuisance or trouble-makers.  Well, perhaps, if I had given them the chance.  Instead I was pretty sure that even though 3-, 5- and 7-year-olds are young children and have a bundle of energy, the theater has some pretty awesome energy itself.  And my kids could feel it. 

Wolfie was familiar with the Chicago Street Theater building because he had taken a class in the upstairs studio.  The girls had been there too to see Wolfie’s play.  But when they first stepped onto the main stage, I saw the awe in their face.  I saw the excitement.  They trembled a little bit.  They could feel the energy.  They knew that they were going to be part of something very, very creative and they would get to show it to people.  A LOT of people as it turns out.

We have one more weekend of performances.  “Do we have rehearsal today?”  “Do we have a show today?”  I catch my kids reenacting scenes from the play.  Mostly, perhaps to my neighbor’s horror if they are not familiar with The most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe, my children poke their bellies with a snorkel while shrieking, “Die! Die! Die! Die! Die!” while laughing hysterically.  They are combining scenes from the play with other games of make believe.  We have been entertaining an awful lot of fairy mischief lately.

I am so pleased with the experience my children have had with Chicago Street Theatre and the cast and crew.  Mostly, I am so pleased with how well respected the children are.  I suppose that’s because everyone in the cast and crew get it, too.  We all know how important, no, essential, it is to make art and share it with the community.  My children are meeting interesting people.  My children are listening to Shakespeare and dissecting the plot.  My children are performing and learning about improvising as well as rule-following.  My children are experiencing the joy and electricity that comes from performing on a stage in front of a live audience.  My children are learning that their bodies, voices and creative talents are cherished things and they can use them in awe-inspiring ways.

Best of all, for the rest of their lives, my children get to tell everyone that when they were 3, 5 and 7 they got to perform in a Shakespeare play in front of an audience of over 1,000 people.  Thank you, Chicago Street Theatre.

Tulip asked me when our next show is and I told her it would be three days from now.  “Oh good.  I bet Jordan will be so happy to see us again.  He said he missed us last time.”  I guess some people are delighted to have children join them in this play.

The Globe Theatre - a storied past

Posted by Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano
In the middle ages, many people thought actors were no better than beggars, asking for money for doing nothing of value.  Like beggars, they were "masterless men," because they didn't have a useful trade that served a "master."  Often, traveling players risked being put in the stocks or driven out of town.
By the 1570s, players were anxious to show they were respectable.  The best way to do this was to persuade a nobleman to be their patron.  This meant the players performed for him whenever he wished.  In return, they could claim to be one of his "men".  They got no pay from him but his title gave them status.  One of the first, and best companies was the Earl of Leicester's Men. Its manager, James Burbage, was a very clever  businessman.  He believed his company could attract much bigger audiences than an inn yard could hold so he proposed a bold idea.  He rented some land outside the city walls, where the city council had less control.  There, he put up a building specially designed for staging plays.  This was England's first purpose-built theatre. By this time, Burbage's company was patroned by Lord Chamberlain and they became known as the best acting company in London.  Shakespeare was named as one of their players in 1594.
Burbage shared his brainstorm with his brother-in-law and partner, John Brayne.  They borrowed some money and signed a lease to rent the land for 21 years. In 1597, when the lease ended, the Burbage family tried to make a new agreement, but the landlord refused to sign.  He claimed that the  Burbages had been bad tenants.  James Burbage himself was dead by this time and his two sons had inherited The Theatre.  They did not mean to let the landlord rob them of their building.  They rented another plot of ground on Bankside, across the river, and hired a builder to pull The Theatre down and save its timbers for rebuilding. 
There is a great legend that Burbage's men and the landlord's men had a bloody fight while the The Theatre was being disimantled, in the middle of the night.  Burbage's men eventually succeeded and the legend is told that they carted the wooden planks from the original Theatre, across the frozen Themes River to build the new Globe. They raised money by selling shares in the new theatre.  Five leading players in the company agreed to buy shares, meaning the rebuilt theatre belonged to seven, with the two Burbage brothers.  Shakespeare was one of these shareholders.
The Globe was a 20-sided building that held 3,000 people -- a big audience, even by today's standards.  No one knows exactly what its interior was like, but judging from a sketch a visitor made of a similar theatre, the Swan, we make assumptions.  In 1599, The doors opened for the first time.  It cost one penny (half the price of a pint of good ale) to enter the Globe and watch the performance, standing in the "Pit." Those who did were referred to as, the "Groundlings," or later, in the heat of summer, as the "Stinkards."  Those who wanted to sit paid another penny at the two stairways leading to the Galleries.  A seat with a cushion cost another penny.  The gallery above the stage was where the musicians usually played.  If the gallery was not needed for this, or for battlement or balcony scenes, nobles could sit there to watch the play.  The got a good view and avoided mixing with the crowd.  The Lord's Rooms were the best sections of seating, closest to the stage as they were often on the stage itself.  These were prized seats because they afforded the royalty the opportunity to see and be seen by all.
Most of Shakespeare's greatest plays were performed on The Globe's stage and Burbage's son, Richard, became known for bringing to life some of the Shakespeare's finest characters.  The Company was so well-liked, Queen Elizabeth asked them to give all six of her Christmas command performances.  In 1603, with the death of Elizabeth and accession of James I, The Chamberlain's Men were renamed The King's Men, as he thought so highly of their work, he became their direct patron. This was quite an honor, considering a century prior, actors were thought of as "worthless, masterless men."
In 1613, The Globe was destroyed by fire during Henry VIII in which Richard Burbage played the King.  The performance on June 29th provided more spectacle than anyone had bargained for.  When the King arrives on stage at Cardinal Wolsey's house, the cannon fire that greeted him set the theatre on fire.  A spark landed on the thatched roof and set it smoldering. A second Globe was built with a tile roof, but demolished in 1644.
In 1970, an American named Sam Wanamaker launched a campaign to build a replica of the first Globe Theatre as close as possible to its original site on Bankside.  In 1997, the first full season of performances ran at England's new Globe.