History

  • Imagination Theater is committed to the principles that the creative arts are essential to the full development of the individual; that all people have the ability to express themselves creatively; and that theater has a unique and important capacity to communicate to all people, regardless of age or percieved abilities.  Over our long history, we have adapted our innovative community service work to meet the needs of increasingly diverse audiences.  IT has grown from a theater that worked primarily with disabled individuals into one that addresses the issues that disable society.
     

    Organizational History


  • 1966

    Company is founded by Eunice Joffee as Playmakers

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    1969

    The company revises and expands its participatory theater programming to serve children (and later adults) with physical and developmental disabilities.


    1974

    The company is reincorporated as the not-for-profit Imagination Theater.  

    Imagination Theater’s participatory theater programming is adapted to meet the often-neglected recreational therapy needs of senior citizens


    1985

    Imagination Theater launches the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program for children and adolescents in grades 2-6 (Touch) and 7-12 (No Easy Answers).  


    1988

    Imagination Theater creates its Substance Abuse Prevention Program (SAPP), for K-12 students.


    1994

    Imagination Theater premiers its Violence Prevention Program for middle and high school students. 

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    1995

    Senior Spotlight, a creative aging program, is created with a grant from the Rothschild Foundation, which will support the program for 15 years.


     


  • 1996

    Imagination Theater establishes its signature participatory format with Whatcha Gonna Do About It to teach conflict resolution.

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    2000

    Imagination Theater begins offering Custom Designed Workshops, allowing the company to reach out to a more diverse audience with a greater range of social-issues related programming.

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    2001

    Imagination Theater premiers Ease the Tease (written in conjunction with Judy S. Freedman, LCSW). 

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    2002

    Imagination Theater debuts Show Some Respect, encouraging participants to be open to differences of all kinds. The Senior Spotlight program is redesigned as an interactive, musical revue.


    2004

    Imagination Theater performs its first show for college students, College Orientation 101: Beyond the Books, helping freshmen adjust to college life and troubleshoot challenging social situations.

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  • 2007

    Imagination Theater premiers two new shows: Responsibility Counts to address responsibility for gradse K-2, 3-5 and 6-8, and E-Etiquette to promote internet safety for grades 3-5, 6-8 and high school. 


    2008

    Imagination Theater premiers Go Green! to empower grades K-2 and 3-5 to make a positive impact on their planet.


    2010 

    HealthWorks Theatre, an educational theater company committed to working with communities to address critical health and social issues, merges with Imagination Theater. 

    Imagination Theater creates two shows in collaboration with HealthWorks. They are Aware Individuals: A Dialogue about Sex and HIV/AIDS for high school students and Making Healthy Choices to promote fittness and nutrition for K-5 audiences.


    2012

    Ease the Tease is completely overhauled and reintroduced to audiences as Ease the Tease 2.0.   

    The company premiers Take A Stand, a program on bullying for middle and high school students.

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    2014

    Imagination Theater overhauls the K-2 and 3-5 versions of Show Some Respect based on a series of workshops with 2nd and 4th grade students.

    Imagination Theater begins touring No Secrets outside of the city of Chicago to help Illinois schools meet Erin’s Law requirements.

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    2016

    Imagination Theater celebrates it’s 50th season!

    For the second time, Imagination Theater partners with Judy S. Freedman, LCSW, to launch Someone Else’s Shoes an empathy-skills program for K-5. The learning model in this program trains students to strengthen their empathy muscles as they train to be empathy superheroes! Freedman creates a complementary parent / caregiver program, Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes to bring empathy education to the whole family.