PACE at NLU Residency

In addition to our core ensemble programs for teens and adults, A.B.L.E. has been working to expand outreach opportunities this season. We’ve added more specialty workshops, and have even started working with partner organizations to bring A.B.L.E.’s methodology to new participants. This fall, A.B.L.E. teaching artists Lawrence and Emma led a 6-week residency for students from the P.A.C.E. Program at National Louis University.


Path to Academics, Community and Employment (P.A.C.E) is a three-year, post-secondary certificate program designed to meet the transitional needs for young adults with multiple intellectual, learning and developmental disabilities.

The P.A.C.E. curriculum encourage student engagement through functional academic courses, employment preparation, independent living skills, and socialization and community living. Click here to learn more about P.A.C.E. A.B.L.E. ensemble alumni, Rachel, is a current student. We’ve loved following her experiences as a college girl and were excited for the chance to work with other students like her.


For this residency, A.B.L.E. teaching artists, along with facilitators Braden and Mary, met with 30 students for weekly 2-hour workshops. in October and November. These sessions focused on building basic theatrical skills, like focus, projection, and physicality, while participants crafted short scenes around their experiences in the P.A.C.E. program. The group split into smaller groups, with each building scenes about a different topic. This was a time for them to reflect on the lessons learned during their time at NLU, and share their tips for leading a happy, healthy lives. They created scenes about:

  • Dating

  • Job interviews

  • Going to work

  • Socializing

  • Academics

  • Cooking and healthy planning



Staff from P.A.C.E. reported massive growth in just a few short weeks. They noted that, on the first day, several participants were reluctant to leave the dorms and head to the workshops, but, by the final weeks, everyone was eager to head out and get to work! Everyone seemed to take something from the sessions, and enjoyed getting out of their comfort zones, performing for each other, and providing peer to peer feedback.


For A.B.L.E. leadership, it was wonderful to see our methodology at play with a completely different group of actors. We shared our favorite check-in questions, visual aids, and ensemble building games, and loved seeing all of these tried-and-true approaches impact new participants.


If you want to see what we worked on, PACE students will share their original scenes as part of the P.A.C.E. Creative Slam Fundraiser Saturday February 16th! This event supports the scholarships and employment opportunities for students with developmental differences.

Thanks to the staff and students of the P.A.C.E. program for being so much fun to work with, and thanks also to our friends at The Edge Theatre on Broadway for assisting with facilities for this residency. If you would like to learn more about how to bring A.B.L.E. to your school or organization, click here to learn more and contact us for opportunities.