No Joke Theater, a transformational theater program for individuals in pre-release programs or under court-ordered supervision, as well as members of the recovery community, has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Legacy of Living Art Fund (LoLA) held at the Missoula Community Foundation.

No Joke Theater aims to assist incarcerated and court supervised populations in their recovery and transition to society by engaging them in bold, original, and devised theater productions about current social issues such as substance abuse, addiction, racism, mental illness, family dysfunction and mass incarceration.

L to R: Heather Adams, Executive Director, Arts Missoula; Leah Joki, Artistic Director, No Joke Theater; Marcy Allen, Executive Director, Missoula Community Foundation

These programs offer participants a creative and productive way to communicate some of the issues surrounding addiction and its’ consequences. Working with professional and student teaching artists enables them to form bonds with community members that they would normally not encounter. And the process of creating and performing teaches communication skills such as speaking in public, writing in a theatrical format and memorization. Participants also learn patience, listening skills and how to manage chaos under pressure. The final No Joke Theater performance builds confidence and reduces the shame that quietly companions addiction.

The LoLA Fund has awarded over $40,000 in grants since 2020 – supporting programs that use the arts to support healing and encouraging individual artists and organizations to bring their unique talents and visions for healing through the arts to Missoula in new ways.

LoLA funding will support a No Joke Theater production at the University of Montana’s Masquer Theater in the spring or early summer of 2024.