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"The Project(s)" by PJ Paparelli and Joshua Jaeger, at American Theater Company in Chicago in 2015. Pictured: Penelope Walker and ensemble. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

American Theater Company Partners with Chicago Public Schools

ATC will work with the National Public Housing Museum to create a curriculum for students about public housing.

CHICAGO: American Theater Company (ATC) and the National Public Housing Museum (NPHM) have announced a new partnership to  co-create and implement curriculum in Chicago Public Schools based on ATC’s production of The Project(s). Penned by ATC’s late artistic director P.J. Paparelli and Joshua Jaeger, the documentary play about Chicago’s public housing will inform the curriculum and be condensed into a 50-minute touring production.

“The three plus years during which I had the privilege to work alongside P.J. on The Project(s) were easily some of the most formative for me, not just as an artist, but as a person in the world,” said Jaeger in a statement. “Through it all, P.J. and I had many conversations about the ultimate goals of the play, and I think that in the back of our minds we knew that while we were bent on creating a powerful piece of theatre, there was the potential for an even more powerful educational component to the piece. There is no better home for the play, in my mind, than in our classrooms and places of learning.”

Director Jess McLeod and dramaturg Sarah Slight will work with NPHM’s associate director Robert Smith III to condense The Project(s) and create the curriculum. The touring production will be performed at Chicago Public Schools in ATC’s American Mosaic program, a six-week arts residency. Students will study The Project(s) and produce a portion of the show with guidance of ATC teaching artists. The NPHM will provide students with the historical, cultural, and social context of public housing.

“Our development partnership with the National Public Housing Museum perfectly encapsulates ATC’s mission at work,” said ATC artistic director Will Davis in a statement. “We are tremendously proud of the collaboration and the way this project is growing. The Chicago Public School students we work with and our high school Youth Ensemble will all participate in various phases of the development, and the finished touring production will continue the work of the original show, drawing audiences into vital community conversations.”

The Project(s) was originally funded through a grant from the Chicago Community Trust, who will continue to fund The Project(s) with an additional $75,000 grant to ATC for the development of the play and the tour, and a $25,000 grant to the NPHM for the development of the curriculum.

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