Who

We are

We are a group of dedicated educators, writers, actors, directors, mentors and volunteers who transform hearts, minds, lives and communities by empowering young people to own and share their stories.

What

We do

In collaborative workshop settings, we mentor youth to write and perform their stories, using theater to champion those most needed to be heard. We teach confidence, choice, hope, and empathy.

Why

We do it

Every child from every neighborhood deserves a place to belong, the freedom to safely express themselves, an opportunity to be seen, heard, and known, and the chance to dream and achieve beyond their circumstance.

Who

We are

We are a group of dedicated educators, writers, actors, directors, mentors and volunteers who transform hearts, minds, lives and communities by empowering young people to own and share their stories.

More Detail

What

We do

In collaborative workshop settings, we mentor youth to write and perform their stories, using theater to champion those most desperate to be heard and toughest to reach. We teach confidence, choice, hope, and empathy.

More Detail

Why

We do it

Every child from every neighborhood deserves a place to belong, the freedom to safely express themselves, an opportunity to be seen, heard, and known, and the chance to dream and achieve beyond their circumstance.

More Detail

Our Vision

The vision of The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company is a world where all youth are given the opportunities and support they need to succeed.

Our Why

The Problem Is Real,
So Is The
Solution

For over 20 years, The Unusual Suspects has responded to the systemic challenges facing Los Angeles’ youth. The Unusual Suspects participants break patterns of recidivism, gang activity and violence, and go on to be graduates, dreamers, leaders and mentors who are engaged in and give back to their communities.

Problem

$160M

additional long-term cost to state or California investing in youth incarceration vs. aversion/prevention programs

$300,000

annual cost to incarcerate
ONE youth in L.A. County

500,000

under-resourced youth living in L.A
County

Solution

$1,700

cost to educate one
Unusual Suspect youth

$13 FOR EVERY $1

spent in savings to communities investing
diversion/ prevention programs

1,500

number of youth served
annually through us

The cost benefits of our work becomes Crystal Clear

When we reflect on the outcomes of those who participate in our programs, who then go on to graduate, gain employment, contribute to their communities and break generational systemic cycles of poverty.

Participants in our school and after school programs gained life long skills, learning and innovation skills

Increased Social Skills & Productivity by 35%

Increased in collaboration,
communication & critical
thinking by 36%

0 %

of our incarcerated, core participants agreed they learned "to respect people that are different than me"

0 %

of incarcerated minors increased their ability to manage 30% emotions in positive ways

0 %

of core participants improved their vocabulary score

0 %

of core program participants reported an increased feeling of self-confidence

*Evaluation data above is a combined average of recent results and fluctuates mildly per semester and year.

Over

Three Decades of Impact

0 +

original plays
created

0 +

public
performances

0 +

audience
members

0 +

individuals served, including incarcerated youth

0 +

adults
served

0 +

virtual workshops offered, as well as dozens of pre-recorded lessons to aid partnering schools and detention facilities in low-income areas with online educational tools and resources

0 +

locations including, 19+
juvenile detention centers

0 +

individuals provided with cross-training services, professional development and mentorship

0 +

working as
Volunteers

Stay

Connected with us

Sign up to be a part of our community to receive updates on our programs, culminations, and events we are currently working on!

Alumni Stories

My Name is Tameka

and I am an alumna. When I was 16 The Unusual Suspects and I found each other. I always had the sense that I was going somewhere, that I was going to succeed, I just didn’t know how. Through this experience I discovered my voice and my pathway to college and beyond.

Join Us

Involved

Your contributions are essential. Thanks to your support, we are investing in our communities and empowering the hardest to reach youth of Los Angeles to create new story lines in their own lives every day.

My name is

Andrea

and I am an LAUSD teacher. The Unusual Suspects instill excitement, interest and competency in learning using creative interventions for our students at San Fernando High School. These vital skills, and learned self esteem are forever lessons that students use throughout their lives. Thank you US!

Join Us

for Powerful Performances

Performance season typically allows US participants to share their playwriting and performance accomplishments by presenting their original work to a captivated audience. These final performances are the culmination of our programs, and we are proud to be able to still provide the opportunity, virtually, for our youth or supporters.

Our workshops leading up to those performances — taught by our highly skilled teaching artists and guided by our committed volunteer mentors — are uniquely crafted to provide our students a safe place for expression and an environment in which they can grow in their academic and social lives. As we adapt to the changing landscape, please know that we continue to implement alternative programming through digital platforms, and will share developments as they occur.

Please note: Due to the COVID-19/novel coronavirus pandemic, our upcoming youth performances are now virtual!