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Senn Arts Theatre

Senn Arts Theatre is an ensemble based theatre program that activates observation, critical thinking, and problem solving to develop students' artistic voice. With the support of their teachers, ensemble, and the Chicago Theatre community, young artists use their voice to react to and create works of theatre from diverse global perspectives. Every Senn Arts Theatre student participates in performance classes and departmental productions and also has the opportunity to explore and pursue all disciplines and aspects of theatre arts. Our robust partnerships with members of the Chicago theatre community allow students the opportunity to work firsthand with theatre professionals to gain practical insight into the inside workings of the theatre world.

Curriculum Overview

First Year Theatre            
Foundation: Who am I? Who are we?
The first year program involves a process of self reflection while providing a foundation based on comprehensive technical, theoretical, and historical studies. Senn Arts students will adopt the Aesthetic Education and Studio Thinking pedagogies that will provide them with a framework on how to experience, interact, and create art.

Sophomore Theatre
Artistic Language: How do I get there? Where do we come from?
The second year program involves the development of artistic language by increasing exposure to a wider and increasingly sophisticated system of reflection and transformation. Year Two will involve in depth explorations of methodology, tools and techniques, and the beginning of a honing of skills and narrowing of a specific interest or focus.

Junior Theatre
Artistic Voice: What am I trying to say?
The third year program begins with the emergence of a personal artistic voice.  Senn Arts students will be nurtured through this first year of advanced study. The ability to understand artistic intent as well as the concepts of purpose and meaning will develop the structure and approach of this year of advanced artistic study.

Senior Theatre
Artistic Identity: Where are we going?
The fourth year program involves a thoroughly advanced study involving the convergence of advancing techniques and artistic identity with the continuing process of artistic emergence. Senn Arts students will have a developed sense of their artistic craft and how they as artists can contribute to the global community.


The Senn Arts Theatre Department is an educational partner with some of Chicago's finest theatrical institutions such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Lookingglass Theatre Company, The Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Victory Gardens, and Raven Theatre. Senn Arts students have the opportunity to view professional productions, which is essential to their development as theatre artists, but also engage in a variety of workshops, discussions, collaborations, and artistic activities. These theatres provide our students with resources such as teaching artists and show-specific curriculum. Led by our Senn Arts Theatre teacher, these teaching artists come into the classroom to facilitate activities and exercises that expose students to the artistic foundations of the respective theaters. In pre-show workshops, students study original source material, read and analyze scripts of the play, explore various production and technical elements, and research historical events related to the production that will deepen their understanding of each production they attend and the entire creative process behind executing the work of art itself. In post-show workshops students reflect and analyze topics and themes present in each production and engage in a series of art-making activities that further enrich their experience and understanding of each production. In addition to collaborating with the teaching artists to create this original work, Senn Arts students participate in post-show talkbacks where they can discuss the artistic process and the production with the cast, director, and designers from each production.

The Steppenwolf Immersion Residency Program is an extensive and in-depth partnership that provides a rigorous curriculum with Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ productions as the central focus. The Immersion Residency Program integrates professional development with a year-long in-classroom residency. We accomplish this by immersing Steppenwolf teaching artists in the Senn Arts Theatre Department, targeting both classroom teachers and students through a combination of:

  • curriculum development that is inquiry based and uses Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ productions as the centerpiece
  • professional development that brings classroom teachers and our teaching artists together for intensive work sessions throughout the year
  • classroom support through extended classroom residencies that are co-taught by a Steppenwolf teaching artist and the classroom teacher
  • student engagement in exploring the play as a work of art and cultural expression; guiding students though an artistic process in how theatre artists approach the creation of work for the stage

The Lookingglass Residency Program brings the world of the theatre straight to the Senn Arts classroom. In collaboration with the theatre department, Lookingglass teaching artists focus on teaching the “Lookingglass method”, which emphasizes invention, transformation, and collaboration, providing disciplined instruction as well as arts integration programming. Senn Arts theatre students have the opportunity to collaborate with Lookingglass teaching artists in creating an original, devised, and self-written production centered on a student-centered theme.

Chicago Opera Theater strives to fulfill its mission of engaging curious audiences through adventurous opera experiences of new and rarely performed works, providing people of all ages opportunities to learn more about opera and its creators. Through during school, after school, college, and adult education offerings, COT proudly continues to ask its students to be creative, questioning individuals who desire to challenge the definition of opera in Chicago. 

Goodman Student Subscription Series The oldest component of the Goodman’s education and community programming, the Student Subscription Series (SSS), has served as a national model for arts education since its inception. Offered entirely FREE to participating schools, the SSS touches the lives of more than 2,500 Chicago high school students annually. During the series, Goodman education staff work with teachers throughout the year to design specific lesson plans and focused classroom integration, creating a series that not only gives students a rich theatergoing experience, but also aids in the development of critical thinking skills and sparks curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. Math, science and other non-humanities teachers are encouraged to work in teams with drama, English and history teachers on curriculum that integrates theater across all subject areas.

Raven Theatre’s Take Flight Partnership programs are residencies that place professional Teaching Artists in neighborhood schools, community organizations, and afterschool programs that create collaborative effort to bring theatre and theatre skills to people of all ages in Raven’s surrounding community.

Victory Gardens Theater deepens student learning and enhances teacher practice through integration of arts in core curricula. Students, teachers, and artists experience new and meaningful ways of learning through their involvement in arts education programs. Victory Gardens affirms its commitment to the living playwright with arts education programming focused on exploring and heightening the practitioner’s understanding of the processes and structures of modern storytelling in its varied forms.

The Education Department at Writers Theatre reflects its commitment to the written word and education programs are aimed at nurturing the creativity of young people. Writers offers in-school residencies, community-based initiatives, and on-site programs designed to emphasize collaboration, cultivate self-expression, encourage imaginative inquiry, and promote civic responsibility.