Community theatre offers so many opportunities to rehearse for life. In January our actors did just that and we rehearsed for work at the INCLUDEnyc Fair!
Our goal was to prepare our actors so they (each in their own way) could:
feel comfortable walking around the fair
make eye contact and interact with peers and adults to share what they do in ACT Workshop
sit behind the table to greet visitors, ask them to sign our email list and hand them a business card.
We structured this like a typical acting workshop and:
introduced the activity with props or a visual
modeled the “scene” with Supporting Players and then, quickly
got the Actors up on their feet for the activity, providing prompting as needed.We did this activity as a musical walk-about* (with Broadway piano music motivating and energizing the group!)
Their scripts were their unique responses to the question:
“What do you do at Autism Community Theatre?
* What’s a Musical Walk-About? In musical theater, “walk-abouts” are a great way to get everyone up on their feet and moving around the stage area with purpose and eye contact. On cue, everyone stops and performs some simple interaction with whomever they happen to be facing. It is an errorless activity and any musical theatre piano score seems to propel everyone into a happy gait! For this activity we used, “I Can See It” from “The Fantasticks!”
PART 2: Staffing the table: seated at a table, actors rehearsed greeting visitors and asking visitors to sign the clipboard and take a card.
Actors take turns behind the table, rehearsing different roles for the Fair.
As Ethan, age 16, told his mother:
“I enjoyed working!”
Leaf, Justin B et al. “COMPARING THE TEACHING INTERACTION PROCEDURE TO SOCIAL STORIES FOR PEOPLE WITH AUTISM.” Ed. Joel Ringdahl. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 45.2 (2012): 281–298. PMC. Web. 17 Feb. 2018.
On Giving Tuesday, one by one, each of us can make a difference in the lives of people with special needs around the world. A gift to Autism Community Theatre, for example, will support teens as they grow into adulthood on the autism spectrum.
Support Autism Community Theatre because
theatre is “… the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” — Thornton Wilder
Short plays are “… a place for encounters not journeys, epiphanies not ideologies.” – Steve Waters on Beckett & Mamet’s short plays
Encounters. Epiphanies. This is at the heart of Autism Communty Theater’s games, improvisations and short scenes. Encountering the other; that “aha!” moment of connection, epiphany – there’s someone else here! (and the encounter is transformative – even if fleeting.)
Luckily we don’t need to introduce Beckett or Mamet to our actors for these connections. “Short plays” can be introduced using “Knock, Knock” jokes. Yes!
Theatre provides so many opportunities to promote nonverbal communication between actors. One effective way is to use what I’ll call “nonverbal beats.” Scenes are made up of beats (changes in character or action) which can be staged with nonverbal moments of joint attention, reaction or a physical gesture. Nonverbal beats in theater actually heighten the action or dialogue that precede them; the silence gives more weight and resonance to what has just occurred.
For this first post I felt as if I should write some sort of huge three- or five-year plan for ACT Workshop, but “THE PLAY’s THE THING!” and I want this blog to be about playmaking and theater games with this special and diverse group of actors with autism spectrum disorder.
Today I want to talk about how we are starting our scene work for The Breman Town Musicians.
Do you remember that tale? A donkey, dog, cat and rooster all set off on the road to Bremen town to play music. They meet some robbers, scare them away and . . . never make it to Bremen Town to play music.