Join Autism Community Theatre for #Giving Tuesday 2018!

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We are so excited to have started our 4th year of free theatre classes for teens and young adults on the autism spectrum! See what we’ve been up to this Fall:

Scene study (joint attention)

Joe ACT Workshop

Stage Work
(following stage directions, hitting your mark, sharing)


Improv with costumes and props
(listening to others, spontaneity, imagination, agreement!)

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(finding your voice, giving your character a WANT)

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Support us today and help us as we expand, deepen and share our work.


Rehearsing for Work


Putting Young People with Autism to Work

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Autism Community Theatre Actors: Jeremy, Ethan and Miles staff the table at the INCLUDEnyc Fair 2018.

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:

  1.  feel comfortable walking around the fair
  2. make eye contact and interact with peers and adults to share what they do in ACT Workshop
  3.  sit behind the table to greet visitors, ask them to sign our email list and hand them a business card.

what we do in ACT

We structured this like a typical acting workshop and:

  1. introduced the activity with props or a visual
  2. modeled the “scene” with Supporting Players and then, quickly
  3. 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.

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Actors take turns behind the table, rehearsing different roles for the Fair.



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As Ethan, age 16,  told his mother:

“I enjoyed working!”





Further readings:
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.

Join the Global Giving Movement! #Giving Tuesday!

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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.

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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

Acting on the Spectrum: Concealing and Revealing through Masks

Part 2 “When Community Means the World”

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Playing with masks: Autism Community Theatre

October is the perfect month to explore masks in theatre!

Thank you to “Our Better World” for giving us permission to share this video of  Professor Parasuram Ramamoorthi using masks with young actors on the spectrum in India.

Read more about our use of Masks at Autism Community Theatre in our next post!




Improv for Actors on the Spectrum

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Yes! Its important
and . . .  here’s a way to start

Improv is a really important part of any acting class for people on the spectrum because improv develops and strengthens underlying skills needed for social interaction including:


turn taking

eye contact

joint attention and

flexible thinking!


What’s more – it’s really fun and always surprising and, as Tina Fey writes in “Bossy Pants”


“In improv there are
no mistakes,
only beautiful happy accidents.”

Thanks, Tina!


So, how do I introduce and teach improvisation to this special group of actors (with a wide range of varying skills and talents)?

Continue reading “Improv for Actors on the Spectrum”

Using Knock-Knock Jokes as Short Plays

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!

Continue reading “Using Knock-Knock Jokes as Short Plays”

Creating a Scene with Nonverbal Beats FOR ACTORS ON THE SPECTRUM

Autism Community Theatre using nonverbal beats
Rehearsal for Bremen Town Musicians

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.

Continue reading “Creating a Scene with Nonverbal Beats FOR ACTORS ON THE SPECTRUM”

How to Begin Playmaking with Teens on the autism spectrum


How I Learned to Love the Bremen Town Musicians


bremen townshadowFor 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.

Continue reading “How to Begin Playmaking with Teens on the autism spectrum”