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UIC News Tips
University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456, www.uic.edu/depts/paff

May 15, 2000 Contact:Bryant Payne (312) 355-2523; bpayne2@uic.edu


Rose Buckner, a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in theater at the University of Illinois at Chicago, recently was named the recipient of the 1999 Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism. Buckner's winning entry "If You Only Knew," was a radio program based on a play at Illinois Department of Corrections Youth Center in Warrenville, Ill.

"After a lot of discussion and consciousness raising of the epidemic of youth in prison, I sought ways to assist troubled young people," said Buckner. "With help from a variety of people at UIC Jane Addams College of Social Work and a $10,000 grant from the Illinois Humanities Council, I was able to create Word Power Theater Project at Warrenville."

Established in June 1998, the Word Power Theater Project presented a series of humanities-based theater classes to a group of 13 incarcerated girls, ages 14 through 18. The students interviewed each other on videotape about their life stories, and Buckner, the project director, interviewed each student individually. From these taped transcripts, Buckner created the production, "If You Only Knew," which the students performed before a live audience of their peers at the facility in Warrenville.

"These girls did not have a sense that they belonged in society and needed someone to listen to them without judging," said Buckner. "As I listened to the girls, I watched them make discoveries about themselves, finding their own answers."

"The play consisted of the students' honest thoughts about themselves; I did very minimal rewriting. They were stunned at how they could stand in front of their peers, perform and be well received."

Teshima Walker and Gianofer Fields recorded and produced the Word Power Theater project as a radio program. All three participants were recognized as recipients of the Lisagor Award. The award is named in honor of Chicago Daily News Correspondent Peter Lisagor and sponsored by the Chicago Headline Club, a chapter of the National Society of Professional Journalists. The award, established in 1977, acknowledges "truly superior journalism" in Chicago.

Buckner received a bachelor of fine arts from University of Illinois-Champaign Urbana in 1982 and is currently an office manager at Realtors Land Institute. Buckner has aspiration to pursue her acting and writing professionally, however she says she enjoys helping youth discover and understand their sense of self.

Buckner continues to work on initiatives similar to The Word Power Theater Project. She is in the process of launching the Illinois Humanities Council's North Lawndale Project, where she along with four other professionals are teaching 15 teenage non-violent offenders to research the history of the juvenile justice system in Chicago.

Each offender will be assigned to an Illinois judge to trace how the juvenile court system started, its original intention and where it currently stands in relation to its original mission.

With 25,000 students, the University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest and most diverse university in the Chicago area. UIC is home to the largest medical school in the United States and is one of only 88 national Research I universities. Located just west of Chicago's Loop, UIC is a vital part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of the area.

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