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How ‘Theatre Journey’ helps join, encourage individuals with disabilities

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) – A Brattleboro nonprofit is providing alternatives to individuals with developmental disabilities by way of theater.

Since 2004, Theater Journey has been placing on reveals and workshops for individuals who be taught in a different way. It began when the founders heard about an Easterseals program in Pennsylvania that used speech and bodily remedy to placed on a present. After securing funding, Theater Journey launched as a summer season camp and it has been rising ever since.

Each Wednesday and Thursday, teams of actors meet on the West Village Assembly Home in Brattleboro. It is the Theater Journey program, a nonprofit devoted to empowering individuals with disabilities by way of the humanities. Wednesday’s troupe is combined ages and Thursday’s is for adults.

“Fairly a spread in ages, from late-20s to 60s. And fairly a spread of challenges, and fairly an incredible array of talents,” mentioned Laura Lawson Tucker, the director of the Theater Journey.

Regardless of variations in ages and pursuits, all of the members have one thing in common– a love for theater arts.

“Theater is wealthy with alternative for people who really want assist with social expertise, communication expertise and methods to type friendships,” Lawson Tucker mentioned.

Every weekly session is jam-packed with enjoyable, from costumes to music-making and appearing. However all of it, we’re informed, is an effort to show expertise which might be transferrable outdoors of the troupe, like decision-making, turn-taking and dealing with others, to call just a few.

“I actually like it. I like assembly new individuals and dealing with different individuals,” mentioned Susan Mandell, a Theater Journey actress.

“Theatre Journey Program provides me goal and permits me to attach with my neighborhood. It challenges me to be an grownup and be a job mannequin to others,” mentioned Brian White, a Theater Journey actor.

Most of the troupe members have been in numerous reveals earlier than, and, have been concerned with Theater Journey for greater than 10 years. Staffers say the chance for creativeness is a giant draw.

“I choose to play severe characters,” mentioned Josh Blaushild, a Theater Journey actor. “I am Theater Adventures’ Brian Cranston.”

“You could be a completely different particular person, you do not have to be your self,” mentioned Jenny Rainville, a Theater Journey actress.

For the previous three years, alternatives for creativeness, with mates, have been restricted.

“I am simply so grateful for being part of Theater Journey,” Rainville mentioned. “Through the pandemic, this has been an ideal program for us.”

Through the pandemic, Theater Journey moved to a hybrid format, with some actors tuning in through Zoom.

“Whether or not they’re sitting there within the room with you or they’re on-line in their very own dwelling, they nonetheless keep linked and I feel that is the principle factor,” mentioned Darlene Jenson, the co-founder of Theater Journey.

Jenson’s son, Elijah, is likely one of the troupe members. She says, traditionally, he is been very distracted by sound. These Zoom periods have modified the sport.

“Being on-line, he is targeted, he watches all people and he isn’t distracted. He is utterly keyed in to what is going on on,” Jenson mentioned.

Whether or not they’re in-person or on-line, in Vermont or far past, Theater Journey seeks to function a possibility for individuals with disabilities to attach and partake in one thing they get pleasure from, one thing, they are saying, is tough to come back by as an grownup .

“With Theater Journey, I’ve actually seen a neighborhood of people that applaud each other for their very own private progress, are acknowledged throughout the bigger neighborhood as providing actually fantastic theater to come back to,” mentioned Leslie Kinney, a trainer with Theater Journey.

Every troupe places on a present yearly. The Thursday troupe carried out “The Costume Store” in November. The Wednesday troupe is performing “The Looking for Traveler and the Cloudworld” in Might on the West Village Assembly Home.

Click on right here for extra on Theater Journey.

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