Katie Uttal, Agatha Walgreen, Hannah Litchman, Zosia Small, Wyatt Verlen, and Maya Krishnan.  Photo by  Zachera Wollenberg of ZW Photography.    

Piven Theatre Workshop will open its Young People’s Company (YPC) production of “The Quality of Mercy” on Dec. 16 at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St. This first advanced youth production kicks off a season at Piven Theatre Workshop centering on the themes of mercy and social justice and how the two ideas intersect.  

While the ensemble works together as actors, the youth artists also serve as adapters, writers, and directors during the process of development of the production.  

“At Piven,” said Artistic Director Jennifer Green, “our young artists are seen as just that – artists. … We trust our youth artists to become actively involved in the adaptation of the texts, the creation of dialogue, and the blocking of the show.”

This year’s lineup of stories includes the tale of Clever Manka. The story, directed by YPC alumna Morven Higgins, tells of a young girl who must decide whether she should speak up against injustice or remain silent to avoid confrontation.  

Also featured is the story “Goose Girl,” directed by YPC alumna Mikalina Rabinski, which tells a story of bullying through the eyes of the Brothers Grimm.  

The production concludes with adaptations of “Meat Loves Salt,” directed by Jennifer Green, and “Theft of Smell,” directed by YPC alumna Catherine Lynch. “Smell” tells a comedic story of a poor man who cleverly outwits a harsh and selfish baker by stealing the smells of his freshly baked bread to fulfill his hunger.  

“Each story this year focuses on themes we are developing in line with our upcoming April production of “Dead Man Walking” by Tim Robbins,” said Ms. Rabinski, director of both YPC and “Dead Man Walking.”

Ms. Rabinski continued, “We are creating a community-wide conversation on compassion and social justice starting with our youth artists, extending to our professional production, which will include Piven youth students, and ending with our partnership with five local arts and advocacy organizations to extend public programs to a multi-generational audience.”

Public Programs associated with The Quality of Mercy Project will take place February through May, 2016 in conjunction with Chicago Innocence Center, Evanston Art Center, Evanston Township High School, Literature for All of Us and the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy.

Tickets and information are available at 847-866-8049 or piventheatre.org. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wed.-Fri.; and 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sat. The Saturday matinee is “Pay What You Can.”