JaMarcus and John spent more than 25 years behind bars and were filled with anxiety about what it would be like to re-enter the world after their release. The South Bend Civic Theatre welcomed them back into the community with open arms and a warm embrace.

“We at times think we have this “felon” or ‘convict’ stamped on our forehead. It makes us nervous and anxious about how people are going to perceive us. But at the CIVIC, they just embraced us. They helped bring down the veil, the wall that we built to PROTECT OURSELVES FROM NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AND JUDGEMENT.”


After John Applegate and JaMarcus Fields spent more than 25 years in prison, they were given the chance to reinvent themselves at the South Bend Civic Theatre.

\JaMarcus and John, as well as a few other men from the South Bend Community Re-Entry Center, first got involved with the CIVIC as volunteers, building props and helping out behind the scenes.

But, like anyone who walks through the doors of the theatre, the men were embraced with open arms by the CIVIC family.

Both John and JaMarcus now have acting credits under their belt and look forward to continuing to volunteer and perform with the theatre.

Maria Kaczmarek has made a life of helping those coming out of incarceration create a future. For more than 20 years, she was the Executive Director of Dismas House of Indiana and now serves as the Community Involvement Assistant for the South Bend Re-Entry Center.


Will you consider a donation to the CIVIC so that people like John and JaMarcus can return home? 


The CIVIC has always pledged to be a light to illuminate the darkness.

But in March, our stage went dark due to the pandemic. We are counting down the days until it is safe to open our doors once more and bring the lights back up on live theatre in our community. There are so many people counting on us to make it happen -- from our patrons to the many people behind the scenes who have found a home at the South Bend Civic Theatre.

The pandemic may have changed theatre temporarily, but we have discovered that the South Bend Civic Theatre has changed lives forever.

Through our HOMECOMING project, we will share the true stories of the many people who have discovered a home at the CIVIC. They've also found acceptance, inclusion, and family -- both on the stage, in the audience, and behind the curtain.

With your help, I hope the South Bend Civic Theatre can celebrate a true HOMECOMING in just a few months.


"Aaron, and the CIVIC, took a chance on me. I don’t know if he knew that he was giving me a second chance at life. I don’t know if he knew he was giving me this opportunity to continue to create. I don’t know if he knew that I thought all of my theatre dreams were over at that point."


"There are so many ways the CIVIC touches the lives of those in the community and to those who take part in any form. And in my case, they really show how much they care about musicians and helping us to raise to the the next level of our talents and commitment to the theatre."


“The CIVIC gives us an opportunity to think about things we should be thinking about — things like mental health, things like autism, things like grieving. The topics that the CIVIC talks about are really heartfelt, meaningful, human condition types of things and they’re portrayed with excellence, thoughtfulness.”


“At that moment, my whole life changed. I can say it was a miracle, being on stage... there was this whole comraderie. It was a lightbulb that went on. All of the sudden, my grades went to honor roll. ”


"Theatre offered these beautiful opportunities to talk about not only autism but also it’s representation, about what community really means, about the difference between awareness and acceptance; to undermine stereotypes and increase understanding."


“The CIVIC makes you feel welcomed, even when you feel like you don't deserve it. And to let yourself know that there's a community out there who accepts you for who you are, no matter how much dissatisfied you are with yourself."


“Being here in the CIVIC, being here in the building, it just made me happy. It made me feel like this is the place I need to be. This is what I want to be when I grow up."


"It's place where people can express themselves. And I think that, you tell good stories, it'll change people for the better. If you don't have theatre, you're going to silence a lot of voices."


"I don't even want to think about how my life could have gone if it weren't for the CIVIC. For years, I'd stay bottled up. I kept these walls up and I had this me-against-the-world mentality. The CIVIC knocked down those walls and made me feel like it was OK to open up, to embrace, and to love."


"Theatre is what I love, and I love being with a group of people who love what I love. And when we go on stage after months of rehearsals, on opening night – it’s so great to be with those people. And we all’ve been on this journey together. And we’ve seen each other at our height, and sometimes at our lows, and we all come together to make something beautiful." 


"The work that we do with the arts and in the theatre doesn’t just go away. It becomes a part of how we think about the world. I like being one of those people in the dark clothing dashing back and forth and making sure everything is running okay – and, I get the opportunity to work with these amazing people and watch them apply their craft."