We are Artists Breaking Limits & Expectations.
Our mission is to provide artistic experiences through which individuals with Down syndrome and other developmental differences build the confidence and skills to share who they are and what they are truly ABLE to do!
Develop agency and independence
Create a safe and respectful space
Enhance verbal and nonverbal communication
Encourage movement and physicality
Value teamwork and cooperation
Build focus and concentration
Celebrate creativity and spontaneity
Strengthen social skills by developing positive peer relationships
Share our experiences with each other and our community
A.B.L.E. began in the fall of 2010 as the Teen Drama Troupe at GiGi's Playhouse Chicago. Initially a weekly meeting of 6 young actors with Down syndrome, the program quickly expanded to two classes a week accommodating an ensemble of 17 actors led by a roster of dedicated volunteers. Inspired by this rapid success, a group of core teaching artists branched out and established A.B.L.E. as a 501c3 in 2016 to expand creative opportunities for the community with developmental differences.
The core of A.B.L.E.’s programming are its Ensembles for teens and adults. Supported by a staff of teaching artists and volunteer facilitators, ensembles work together to create theatre and film projects while strengthening lifelong skills including communication, confidence, and cooperation. Ensembles produce an average of 4 theatre performances each year, ranging from original stories devised by the ensemble to classics by Shakespeare, Dickens, and Gilbert & Sullivan. For these productions, A.B.L.E. partners with professional venues around Chicago. Most notably, A.B.L.E. has forged an ongoing partnership with Chicago Shakespeare Theater, collaborating on Twelfth Night (2016), Cyrano de Bergerac (2018), Thereby Hangs a Tale (2018), and As You Like It (2019).
The Ensemble’s feature films, The Curse of the Tempest Jewel (2015) and The Spy Who Knew Me (2017) have been recognized by several festivals on the local and international circuits, including The Chicago Onscreen Showcase, The Great Lakes International Film Festival, and The Courage Festival in Berlin, and the Awareness Festival in Los Angeles. A.B.L.E. tours both films to schools and community organizations for private screenings and discussions about best practices for inclusion.
In addition to this core programming, A.B.L.E. shares our approach through specialty workshops and outreach for schools and other community organizations that serve individuals with disabilities. A.B.L.E. teaching artists provide a range of workshops that introduce performance techniques including Puppetry and OnCamera Acting for those with disabilities, and well as professional development training and consultations for those who work with them.
A.B.L.E. - Artists Breaking Limits and Expectations continues to expand creative and social opportunities through its core ensembles, workshops, and outreach. By promoting practices that place participants with disabilities in the spotlight, and giving them ownership over their experiences, A.B.L.E.’s work strives to shift societal preconceptions about disability, and build more inclusive, empathetic communities.
click on an image to enlarge and learn more about our previous productions