Welcome to our virtual Impact Report! From all of us at Rehearsal for Life, thank you for your continued investment in our mission, our programs — and our youth. We could not do our impactful work without your support.

With gratitude,


Dear Friends,

Rehearsal for Life could have closed its curtains this last year but we didn’t give up— and neither did you. With investment from so many, we adapted, learned, and delivered. We grew alongside our students, teachers, parents and community. We continue to proudly be a work in progress, using improv as a tool for innovation. In our BPS partner schools, our teachers learned how to teach remotely. We joined them. We listened to their needs, reviewed our curriculum and introduced new and contemporary topics to provide the Urban Improv experience to virtual classrooms. The six Freelance Troupes rallied and created a virtual stage. We gathered in a safe, social-distance style over Zoom, with drones for outdoor scenes, resulting in twelve vibrant productions. The Youth Unscripted team leaned in. We lengthened sessions with teens from across the city over Zoom. All resulting in a community-building year, producing a recorded performance of high artistic achievement and personal development. We shared our story with the world. Our entire community came together as an improbable cast. We all starred in the most meta-fundraiser Banned in Boston ever created, on its 25th anniversary . In a year of isolation, with connections held together by Zoom, we innovated through improv. And we are not done. This year we will ask you again to help us improvise again to envision the future for Rehearsal for
Life. A future to pave a road where every student in our city and beyond can experience the magic of improv, while empowering them, and providing critical social emotional support. At the same time we will complete a strategic, organizational, and cultural review that will prepare us for success for the upcoming year and beyond. Thank you for keeping our doors open and the curtain up, and saying “Yes, and” in a remarkable year.

James Benenson, Chair


Our dynamic programs embody the following Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Key Measures: Creative Self-Expression, Empathy, Conflict Resolution, Relationship Building/Community, and Diversity & Inclusion.

Urban Improv

Urban Improv served ALL students ONLINE this year. Teaching artists created realistic scenes on bullying, peer pressure, racism, and more. The facilitator calls “FREEZE!” and students jump into the scene, using their minds, body and creativity to resolve the conflict, and experience their choices first-hand. We piloted topics on loss/grief, anti-racism, and expanded on race, gender, identity.

New: Each workshop began with a land acknowledgement, honoring Indigenous Peoples on the land we work, live and play. It served as an opening exercise and connector in a time of physical separation. Digital films presented each week’s topic and were explored in 30-minute sessions, with expanded dialogue in breakout rooms. The Zoom chat function ignited conversation. Teaching artists performed live-Zoom performances! The first live virtual-theater production was Urban Improv’s very first scene: Marty Roche (Roshay…not Roach!).

9 week residencies in 5 BPS partners (Hale, Haley, Murphy,
Mission Hill, BTU)
48 classrooms- approximately 1,000 students
12,960 minutes on Zoom
21 Digital Classroom Videos
1,482 Video Feedback Surveys
3 IN-PERSON workshops for 8th graders at Mission Hill,
Murphy & Haley Schools

Freelance Players

Our after-school, tuition-based musical theater program fosters imagination, self-expression, empathy, and community.

The Troupes and The Shows:
Players: Hamletta & NoZone
Driscoll: Tumbleweed & The Universe and Other Stuff
Jamaica Plain: Follow Your Hooves & Buzz ON!
Needham: America’s Next Top Monster & Monopoly
Newton: The Sacred Secret & New Troubles in Old Town
Spotlight: Write Something & Freelance in the Spotlight

6 troupes ONLINE!
141 participants
12 live-streamed performances
6 video/streaming productions
1 live-streamed performance

Youth Unscripted

Our after-school program for Boston teens builds self-efficacy through creative exploration of themselves, their community, and social justice.
15 student leaders participated virtually for 22 90-minute
35 hours of creative collaboration in at least as many breakout
• First ever RFL Technology lending library created.
• Community partnership with Boston Camera Club.
• Majority of students reported they would like to return to the
program next year. CAN’T WAIT!
• Culminating performance & YouTube premier in March titled
“The Life That’s Within Us All” featuring original spoken word,
music and dance.

Re:Action Assemblies

Re:Action Assemblies Interactive assemblies jumpstart healthy dialogue on challenging topics at schools and community groups in New England and beyond.

Youth participants, 6 sites: Groton School (Groton MA), Beaver Country Day School (Newton MA) Madison Park; Development Corporation Youth Programs (Roxbury MA), Kilmer School (West Roxbury MA)

Adult participants: Boston After-School & Beyond, Parent Professional Advocacy League (PPAL)

This year topics covered the spectrum: racism, gender identity, creativity & critical thinking, family/mental health.

The Kilmer School hosted a multi-day assembly series that covered: identity, friendship, family, conflict, communication…and students performed their own scenes on the final day!


Our community is our strength and foundation. Here, we make a special introduction to some of the people who have helped us this year (and some for many, many years). Thank you for all you have given us.


Thank you to the many individuals, organizations, and institutions that have contributed to Rehearsal for Life in the 2020-2021 fiscal year. We remain committed to our students and are grateful for the donors who have given this year, in the face of uncertainty.


Philanthropy: $594,135

Grants/Government: $440,737

Donated Goods & Services: $5,386

Earned Revenue: $103,076

FY21: $1,143,335


Youth Programs: $804,474

Fundraising: $194,349

General & Admin: $90,773

FY21: $1,089,596

SURPLUS: $53,739

Endowment (Restricted), Freelance Players

Total Endowment Amount: $302,807

Appreciation of Endowment: $125,555

2020-2021 Endowment: $177,252

2020-2021 Gift: $25,000


25th Anniversary – April Fool’s Edition

Twenty-five years in the making, our most successful Banned in Boston yet! Over 1,000 guests zoomed together on April 1, 2021 and helped to raise an incredible $620,000 benefitting Boston youth. That’s no joke. Our gratitude goes to Faith Soloway for reimagining with vision; creating the music, script and lyrics. And to Ian Brownell for directing the show from his laptop! Plus, our 40 + person cast! And new this year: thanks to the Boston Globe for their media sponsorship, allowing us to introduce ourselves and mission to thousands of new people! Special thanks to an up and coming star who made his Banned in Boston debut: Stephen Colbert.


Narcissa Campion, Music Director, Freelance Players

Kippy Dewey, Founding Director

Emily Duggan, Marketing & Development Associate

Lisa McColgan, Office Administrator

Kristen Sherman, Head of Development & Finance

Mary Torpey, Head of Freelance Players

Jamie Ullrich, Head of Urban Improv & Community


Elena Velasco, Executive & Artistic Director


IJ Chan

Cooper Evello, Music Director

Jackson Jirard, Associate Director, Urban Improv

Camilo Linares

Kevin Madison, Music Director

Merle Perkins

Holly Tarnower


James Benenson, Chair

Lisa Schmid Alvord, Co-Vice Chair

George Bennett, Co-Vice Chair

Levin H. Campbell, Treasurer

Katie Kulikoski, Clerk

Lisa Case

Ted Clark

Ron Druker

Kendrick Terrell Evans

Ann Hall

Francie Karlen

Shaunda Lewis

Yujing Li

Kristina Hare Lyons

Skye Morrison Kramer

Thalia McMillion, Chair, Freelance Players, Advisors

Thomas O’Rourke

Lisa Pierpont

Faith Soloway

Funded in part by Boston Public Schools (BPS) Arts Expansion, a multi-year effort focusing on access, equity and quality arts learning for BPS students. The BPS Arts Expansion Fund, managed by EdVestors, is supported by the Barr Foundation, The Boston Foundation, Katie and Paul Buttenwieser, The Klarman Family Foundation, Linde Family Foundation, and other individuals. BPS Arts Expansion is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

670 Centre St, St 8
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Photo credits: Rich Crable, Jeph Ellis, Jack Foley, Grant Hamilton, Lisa Kessler, Mike Kligerman, Joshua Lavine, Jamie Ullrich