I want art that asks big questions, that challenges the hell out of me and makes me laugh my face off. That’s Free Street Theater, creating performances by, for and with communities across Chicago and interrogating the idea of “where theater belongs and who belongs in a theater.” They stage stories that crack the world open, most recently The Young Fugitives’ “Track 13” exploring the history and present-day reality of crime and policing from the points of view of youth of color. “We’re trying to do something different,” said ensemble member Elijah Ruiz in an interview with HowlRound. “So [our stories] can actually get heard.” In addition to their home base in Pulaski Park, Free Street travels across the city (Ricardo Gamboa’s excellent “The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy de las Rosas” was performed last summer in seven public parks) and tickets are pay-what-you-can, allowing access where it’s so often denied. I can’t wait for the upcoming season: “100 Hauntings” (multigenerational ghost stories from across Chicago neighborhoods); a remount of Melissa DuPrey’s fantastic “SUSHI-frito”; a theatricalized version of “Stoop Stories” from Moth Grand Slam storyteller Lily Be; and more.
—Megan Stielstra, author (Lit 50) Best of Chicago 2015 -