579790_512885542072947_1680054237_n(1)Yesterday, as I was sitting in the Upstream Office typing up one of these posts, I heard yelling, screaming, and happy pre-teen shouting outside the door.

It was kids from the Pillsbury House afterschool program in the hall, and I’ve been here long enough to know exactly who it was…I opened the door to see “Jeremy” and “Tanya” chilling out now in their usual spot, hunched up against the window at the end of the hall, with clementines, pretzels and peanut butter for snack.

I see these kids every week as I come to work, and had gotten to know them when I was a mentor dramaturg for the Chicago Avenue Project’s writer’s retreat last fall, where they both wrote ridiculous and awesome plays that professional theater artists brought to life.

Last week, I’d seen them while Arts On Chicago was having our training institute for artist projects over at the Powderhorn building. They were over there with Masa, a teaching artist at Pill House, because they were working that day on a recording project, interviewing coaches and people involved in sports programming over there.

So, after I gave them my patented and totally inneffective  “What is wrong with you guys? Seriously!” face, I sat down with them and we caught up as they peeled their clementines.

They told me the recording session went well; they’d interviewed a coach, and a teenager who’d been involved with sports over there since he was seven years old, and now works there with other kids.

What did they learn? Jeremy explained in that wonderful and specific way he has: ” There’s a  benefit for the community by having these opportunities for kids to get involved in sports”.

I told them that I’d be interviewing a lot of people coming up for this storytelling project I’m working on, and asked them any advice they could share with me. Tanya thought about it for about a second, then nodded seriously.

Here are Tanya and Jeremy’s top 3 tips for interviewing:

1. Don’t bring your water with you.

(Tanya had been crinkling her water bottle in her hand the whole time, and the sound totally picked up in the recording)

2. Stay Calm.

3. Practice the words you want to say in your head or out loud before you say them on the air.

And oh yeah, get your giggles out first.


Thanks, you two. I’ll be taking it to heart from now on.


postscript: did I later witness clementine peels being thrown by them at each other (and, well, at me too?)

Yes, yes I did.

But the peels got picked up.  Every single piece.


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