A.B.L.E. offers a range of programming for young adults ages 14-22 with Down syndrome and other developmental differences.
Classes incorporate movement, vocal, and improvisation exercises to engage different learning styles. While specific activities vary in each session, classes generally follow the same basic format: dance party, physical & vocal warm ups, check in, theater and improvisation games, and group activities.
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.
Our signature program is our teen performance ensemble Through the course of a 12-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. 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. Past performances have ranged from completely original work devised by the ensemble, to classical Shakespeare, to a Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta. Performances showcase each actor’s strengths through scenes, monologues, songs and dances, giving everyone a chance to be in the spotlight!
We offer two semesters a year one in February-May and another September-December. ABLE currently hosts two ensembles, one meeting on Monday nights and the other on Friday evenings for weekly 1.5 hour rehearsals. Teen ensembles are currently waitlist only.
Through the course of a 2-week summer session, a crew of professional filmmakers and teaching artists will immerse an ensemble of actors in the filmmaking world while collaborating on an original screenplay written with each actor's strengths and personalities in mind. The session starts with a condensed 3-day pre-production process, where actors learn about costume sketches, storyboarding, marks and other film lingo, and perform a staged reading of the script for their families and sponsors. Filming takes place at various locations around the city and in studios with sets and green screens. Upon completion, the finished film will premiere at a local movie theatre giving the cast and crew a chance to see their work on the big screen.
Actors must have participated in at least 2 previous semesters with the stage ensemble to enroll in film projects. Schedule varies throughout filming; reliable transportation is required to-from set.
Our workshops are a great chance for new actors to see what A.B.L.E. is all about, and for established actors to continue building their skills. Workshops are 2 hours in length and are centered around different theatre skills including Improvisation, Puppetry, Shakespeare, On-Camera Acting, and more.
Sessions are offered periodically throughout the year. There are no prerequisites.
Guest Artist Series
We partner with other organizations from around Chicago and beyond to introduce ensemble members to new skills and artists. Past guest artists have included dancers from Joffrey Ballet, actors from Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (pictured), and a devising workshop with U.K. company Frantic Assembly.
Sessions are offered periodically throughout the year.