The core of our program are our stage performance ensembles. Throughout the course of a 10-week semester, each actor will discover and hone his/her own personal performance skills, while developing the social skills necessary to contribute constructively to a group. Classes incorporate movement, vocal, and improvisation exercises to engage different learning styles. While specific activities vary week to week, each class follows the same basic format: dance party, physical & vocal warm ups, check in, theater and improvisation games, and group activities. Actors participate side by side with a staff of teaching artists and volunteer facilitators who share their own professional performing experience to create a final production staged in a professional theatre. Performances showcase each actor’s strengths through scenes, monologues, songs and dances, giving everyone a chance to be in the spotlight!

As we work together and support each other to create a show, actors build lifelong skills that will help both onstage and in their day-to-day lives, including:

  • Speech & Communication
  • Movement
  • Focus & Concentration
  • Creativity
  • Trust
  • Teamwork & Cooperation



Classes are open to individuals with Down syndrome and cognitive special needs ages 14 - 22. Each class has a maximum of 10 actors staffed by 2 teaching artists and 3-5 volunteer facilitators for a 2:1 ratio ensuring each actor gets personal attention and support from our staff. We offer two semesters a year one in January-May and another September-December (coinciding with the CPS calendar). Each semester is comprised of

  • Ten 90 minute classes once/week
  • One 2 hour dress rehearsal
  • One Public Performance


Upcoming Courses

Spring 2018: Cyrano de Bergerac

The A.B.L.E. ensemble will put their spin on Rostand's classic  story full of love and war, courage and heartbreak...with plenty of opportunities for swordfighting and love songs for the whole cast. The final production will be part of the inaugural season of The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in May 2018.