Custom Program FAQs

What types of topics do you cover?

We cover a wide array of mental health issues. Here are just some of what you’ll hear explored in our material.

  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • OCD
  • Trauma/PTSD (Including domestic, sexual and intimate partner violence)
  • Suicide
  • Homelessness
  • Substance Abuse
  • Self-Injury
  • Eating Disorders
  • Alzheimer’s

We also give voice to many underrepresented groups such as African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, people with physical disabilities, the LGBT community, and veterans and their families.

Our stories also feature voices from tellers ranging in age from 14 – mid-70s.

Who are your performers? Are they the real storytellers?

Our performers are some of the best professional actors in the city of Chicago. You will see many of them on the stages of large theaters like Steppenwolf, The Goodman, and Victory Gardens, as well as in the city’s popular storefronts. Many of our performers also have extensive film, TV, and commercial credits. On very rare occasions, we do have some of our professional actors perform their own stories. However, traditionally we do not use the “real people” as performers in our productions.

Do your performances include talkback or Q&A opportunities with the cast, or would you consider working with us to create one around our messaging?

Absolutely! In fact, talkbacks are a very integral and vital part of what we do. We have talkbacks after all of our performances, and they can range from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on how long a group needs/wants to talk.

We are looking to present to middle school and high school youth and their families. Is your material age appropriate?

We most certainly have pieces that are appropriate for high schoolers and their families. While we do have some stories for middle schoolers, it is pretty essential that they are mature youth that can handle sensitive material.

What kind of technical requirements do you have (professional light grid, sound board, etc.) for your shows?

We have performed in many different kinds of venues. While certainly a stage setting is the most ideal, we’ve been in classrooms, church sanctuaries, conference rooms, etc… and can adapt to wherever we go. We do request that you have adequate lighting for the actors to be seen and lavalier clip-on microphones if there are more than 250 people in attendance or if there are particularly difficult acoustics.

What kind of timing should we consider in scheduling with ETD?

It depends on what we are bringing out to your location. If it is a performance and talkback, we ask that you try to book 2 months prior to the event so we can ensure actor availability and allow time for coordination and your marketing efforts. If you are looking to do a larger project, the timeline is variable and can be discussed on a case-to-case basis.

What are your costs?

Our costs are customized based on what exactly we are bringing to your location and where you are located. When we bring performances out of Chicago that have significant travel time, we do require hotel stays be covered, along with a per diem per actor, and mileage reimbursement in addition to our regular program costs.

We do try our best to work with most budgets. If you send us an email with your ideas for your event as well as the budget you have to work with, we can respond with programming ideas and costs.

How many staff do you send out with you? (director, cast, tech crew, etc.)

The number of people we send out is directly related to the pieces/stories you are interested in and the budget you have to work with for your event. We can bring out as few as 1 performer and as many as 7. Our directors do not travel with the casts, and we use no tech crew outside of a stage manager. The SM only comes if we are performing in a traditional theater space that has a sound and light board and we need someone to run it. We also send out one facilitator to handle the talkback portion and to serve as the ETD liaison with the client. Sometimes the facilitator is also one of our actors, depending on what pieces we bring out.

Can the production be videotaped?

Unfortunately no. We sometimes do for our own purposes, but we don’t allow clients to do so.

If we pay to bring you out to our location, can we accept donations at the door as well?

Of course you can! Some groups do that. You would pay us a fee and then ask for a donation at the door of $5, $10, etc. to assist in covering your costs.

Do you have scripts available that we can adapt? (For purchase, to create our own youth production, etc.)

Unfortunately, no. Our scripts are incredibly documentary in nature, using the verbatim transcripts of real people as the source material. Because of that, they can only be presented by us in the format we employ. We don’t make them available for purchase or allow people to change them because of the commitment to our storytellers and the relationships we have with them.

Could you gather stories from our community and develop a script from them for our use?

We can do this and very much enjoy it, but it is quite a lengthy process. To do all the pieces of the process successfully, while also juggling our other major projects, it usually takes between 6 months to 1 year to complete a custom show. That timeline is assuming that the storytellers are already selected by the host organization. If we are expected to participate in the outreach and securing of tellers as well, we suggest a timeline of at least 1 year, especially if your location is outside of Chicago. If you are outside Chicago and wanted to use local tellers, we would likely need to do most of our collections via phone or Skype (which we’ve done a lot).

Creating a custom show can also be an expensive process. When we’ve done this in the past, we’ve found that a number of different funding sources traditionally need to be secured in order to make it happen. If you are interested in more information, let us know. We can talk through more specific details and then put together a cost breakdown for you.

Are there upcoming opportunities to view one of your performances?

Yes. Please check out our calendar of events and see what might work with your schedule. Many of our touring events are private, so if you and a colleague would like to come, please contact and we will do our best to ensure that you are able to attend.