Fulfilling a core pillar of its mission and building on fifteen years of theatrical excellence, the inaugural tour of the FATE (Farmers Alley Theatre Education) program will bring Yearning To Learn to perform socially relevant theatrical works in area schools January 29 through February 2.


Theatre has long been recognized as a tool for promoting prosocial behavior and addressing deeply held stigmas. In partnership with Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency’s Education for the Arts (EFA), the FATE program aims to bring schools original and existing theatrical works geared toward grades K-12. Productions provided by FATE incorporate an identity and values-based curriculum using interdisciplinary arts. In addition to performances, post-production talk-back sessions and educator-directed learning resources are available to encourage continued discussion and reflection. Through FATE, students will have the opportunity to develop their empathy skills through observation and collective reflection and educators will have the resources to extend conversations surrounding social justice.


Grant funding through the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and the Harold and Grace Upjohn Foundation has allowed performances to be offered to Kalamazoo students throughout the district at no cost.


Yearning To Learn (YTL) is a theatrical and educational production company that has been providing innovative arts-in-education programming and theatrical productions for students and audiences of all ages and diverse backgrounds for over twenty-five years. With stories and workshops that demonstrate how the arts can serve as a vehicle to teach academic and life skills, YTL's mission is to create an accurate and in-depth view of the African-American experience and celebrate world cultures through the performing arts. Yearning to Learn productions are interactive, employing the concept of “Story Theater” within a dramatic format involving the audience directly in the action. Through YTL's unique and poignant productions and curriculum-related classroom workshops, the company has been successful in utilizing theater arts to motivate youth and augment education. Shows have been presented in theaters, universities, colleges, schools, churches, museums, and libraries.

Based on the East Coast, Yearning To Learn has its roots right here in Kalamazoo. Founder, President, and performer Alicia Washington is the daughter of Fran and Dr. Von Washington Sr., who brought similar productions to schools throughout West Michigan for many years through Washington Productions.

Farmers Alley Theatre’s Managing Artistic Director Jeremy Koch says, “All of us at Farmers Alley Theatre are so excited and proud to present educational theatrical productions that were originally created by Fran and Dr. Von Washington Sr. The entire Washington family is legendary in the artistic and educational communities of Kalamazoo and we are honored to call them friends and partners. We are thrilled to be a part of the Washington family legacy while also continuing in our mission to nurture and develop the next generation of Artists and Art appreciators. Theatre is visceral and has to be experienced and we are delighted to bring these experiences right to Kalamazoo youths in their schools. And more than that, we know the tremendous macro level benefits of Arts education such as improving mental health and reducing public violence. In the future, we plan to expand our educational theatrical offerings, so please follow us on social media, check our website or join our mailing list to stay informed on the FATE program and more.”

During this inaugural week, FATE and Yearning To Learn will present three different productions, each centered on a different theme. Magical World Folktales (for students in pre-k through fourth grade) carries the audience on a storytelling journey around the world, while A Seat for Rosa (for second through fifth graders) brings Rosa Parks’ inspiring and poignant story of the power of peaceful resistance to life. Rounding out the offerings is A Journey Through African American Music, a storytelling and musical experience about the inception of African American music and its transformation through the growth of America for second through eighth grade students. These productions will be performed a total of ten times across seven different Kalamazoo Public School district schools.

FATE is generously supported by the Harold and Grace Upjohn Foundation and the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.