Headshots (1)Molly Bunder

Artistic Director for Creative Partnerships

Molly Bunder (she/her)  is a Chicago-based theater maker and educator with a primary focus in community-based theatre.  She teaches theatre as a tool for community engagement and empowerment.  Molly works with young people, women’s organizations, first-generation college students, returning citizens, and those experiencing homelessness to facilitate original performances in community settings.  Through innovative site-specific projects, she creates theatrical experiences that foster a sense of identity and belonging among both performers and spectators.  

Molly is co-artistic director of Filament Theatre, a fast-growing theater for young audiences based in Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood.  Since joining Filament as an actor in 2013, Molly has developed the company’s educational programming and community outreach, including Filament’s groundbreaking anti-adultism framework which brings young people into Filament’s curating, planning, and rehearsal processes. Filament’s model of making new work for and with young people makes the company uniquely responsive to the needs of the young people in our community.

Molly’s favorite Filament projects include Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Portage Park (an original mystery that took the audience on foot and by bicycle throughout the neighborhood in search of clues); The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles (a play in a sandbox); and Forts: Build Your Own Adventure (an audience-driven performance installation); and Nicola McCartney’s Lifeboat (named one of the Chicago Tribune’s Top Ten Best of the Fringe).  

Molly maintains strong relationships with theaters and educational institutions across the midwest and internationally, where she has taught, performed, and directed for the award-winning Toonspeak Young People’s Theatre, as well as Scottish Refugee Festival, the Scottish Mental Health Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the University of Glasgow, and International Performing Arts for Youth.  In the US, she has directed free outdoor Shakespeare in the rural Midwest through Stone Soup Shakespeare, created a touring comedy show that encouraged young people to get health insurance, and has taught for Chicago Ideas Week, Mudlark Theatre, DePaul University, the University of Chicago(TRiO), Purdue University, and Beloit College, where she is an adjunct professor of Theatre.  

Molly received an MA in Classical and Contemporary Acting, and an MFA in Directing, from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, ranked in the QS ‘World Top 5’ for performing arts education.  She is a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and lives in Portage Park with her family.