StoryWorks creates immediate artistic responses to some of the most controversial and challenging issues our society faces. We take investigative journalism, commission playwrights to create plays based on the stories, and then produce the shows both in the San Francisco Bay Area, where The Center for Investigative Reporting is based, and in the communities most directly affected by the issues. Over the past three years, StoryWorks has commissioned and produced six productions, toured in affected communities, translated and performed work in Spanish, and challenged theater and journalism to work in innovative ways to represent our world and the immediate issues that confront us.
For StoryWorks’ inaugural season in 2013, we commissioned two plays based on CIR’s reporting: “A Guide to the Aftermath,” about female veterans suffering from military sexual trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, and “Headlock,” which confronted abuse in California’s adult care facilities. What began as an experiment to bring journalism to the stage and give voice to the marginalized and oppressed became a challenge to both our community as a whole and the artists who work with us to tell these stories. Our process evolved as we worked; this had never been done before. Our guiding principles were to proceed with integrity, following best journalism practices, and to allow arti sti c expression and the creative process to thrive.
Once we began rehearsals, it became clear that we wanted to give communities an opportunity to participate, ask questions, tell their story and listen to those directly affected by our reporting. After each performance, the journalists, artists and community members join the audience for a conversation about the play and its themes. As we delve into the facts of the investigation and the personal stories of those involved, these conversations often are as long as the play itself.
Jennifer Welch is the director and co-creator of StoryWorks, a groundbreaking project launched by The Center for Investigative Reporting in 2013 that transforms journalism into theater. She also is a member of Tides Theatre in San Francisco, executive producer of the Des Voix festival and a founding member of the Howells Transmitter Arts Collaborative. Welch focuses on new play development and theater for impact, social conversation and change. Her directing credits include “Distant Future Symposium,” “Justice in the Embers,” “North by Inferno,” “Alicia’s Miracle,” “This Is Home,” “Gruesome Playground Injuries,” “Sweet Bird of Youth,” “Waiting for Godot,” “The Little Foxes,” “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Buried Child,” “The Trip to Bountiful,” “A View From the Bridge,” “The Rose Tattoo,” “The Night of the Iguana,” “Lysistrata,” “The Real Inspector Hound” and “Killer Joe.” Her most recent stage credits include Margaret in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” for which she earned a 2014 Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle best actress award; part of a StoryWorks ensemble; and Stella in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Welch currently teaches acting for Tides Theatre.