It's been a long time in the making, but our adult program is officially underway! We’ve been enjoying our Tuesday workshops and the opportunity to connect with old and new friends through our skills-based summer workshop series.
WHY AN ADULT PROGRAM?
A.B.L.E.’s growth has happened organically over the years. We started as a small weekly meet-up of 6 actors at GiGi’s Playhouse in 2010. Within just 3 years, we had tripled enrollment, and it made sense to go from one class a week to two. As programming expanded, it made sense to become our own organization to focus our efforts. And then in 2016 Rachel became the first of our ensemble members to turn 22 and age out of CPS and our core program. Rachel wowed us all by heading off to college and is now entering her final year in the PACE program at National Luis University.
But we started thinking what about the families who can’t afford a university program (these are certificate programs, so they do not qualify for financial aid)? And what happens when college is over?
For most people, the transition from school into the “real world” is a harsh one, and that is even more true for individuals with disabilities. As a result, they are at an increased risk for conditions like depression and anxiety. More individuals with disabilities are being accepted into the workforce, but these opportunities are still few and far between, and they are not allowed to work full-time without losing their federal and state support. Click here to read The Philadelphia Inquirer’s 4-part series about this crisis “Falling off the Cliff."
As we watched more of our actors approach this transition, and talked to their families about future plans, we realized we had to do something. And, so, our next natural step appeared.
We officially kicked off our adult program on June 12th with the first of our summer workshops. Each Tuesday for 5 weeks, we're focusing on a different topic to help both new and experienced performers hone their personal performance skills and build a community. Teaching artists Katie and Lawrence are leading these 2 hour sessions. We've welcomed program alums including Rachel and Andrew, and also Nate who was in some our very first sessions with GiGi’s Playhouse back in 2010. We’re also excited to get to know new actors like Marty, Travis, and Francesca.
Our first workshop centered on Improvisation. Improv has served as the starting point for many famous actors like Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Amy Poehler and more so it seemed like a natural starting place for us. Our actors learned the basic rules of improv and put them into practice through a range of exercises.
In week two, we explored physical theater and skills for building a story and character without speaking. Using techniques from famous companies like Frantic Assembly, Complicite, and the Lecoq School, we worked on a host of skills like eye contact, teamwork, and trust. Actors even had a chance to choreograph their own movement sequences.
We still have 3 weeks left to explore puppetry, classical theatre, and on-camera acting and look forward to meeting some new actors along the way! There are still spaces available for all of our remaining workshops, so click the link at the bottom of this post to sign up.
We’ll continue hosting Tuesday sessions for adults in the fall, with two slots from 10am-12pm and another from 1pm-3pm. Participants can join us for the whole day, or pick just the morning or afternoon session depending on their schedules. We have lots of ideas for potential performance projects for the adult ensemble, and can’t wait to see where their interests and personalities lead us!
Do you know someone age 22+ with Down syndrome or other developmental differences who might be interested in joining our adult ensemble?
Are you interested in volunteering as a facilitator for our day program?
Want to help us continue our efforts to build meaningful creative and social opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome and other developmental differences?