Tony Award Winning Paper Mill Playhouse Affiliation
Theatre in Motion enjoys a rousing collaboration with the legendary Paper Mill Playhouse. Leslie Fanelli is their lead "Theatre for Everyone Creative Drama" teacher. Paper Mill (inclusive of its "family" of programs) won the Tony Award for Best Regional Theatre for 2016. Pictured is Leslie with Producing Artistic Director, Mark S. Hoebee ... and with the Tony!
The "Theatre for Everyone Creative Drama Class" at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey, is a fun and bonding experience for everyone involved ... designed for student participants with disabilities, their parents and other caregivers, and typical siblings. We are truly one big, happy family.
Teaching Artists Hannah Fanelli and Dr. Sean Dineen, D.Litt. round out the "Theatre for Everyone" teaching team. We are pictured with Paper Mill Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Mark S. Hoebee, holding the Tony Award.
Enjoy these lovely mini-documentaries about the full program, which is still going strong in 2019 (and now includes an Acting and Improvisation class for adults with and without disabilities):
Also, enjoy this radio broadcast and article:
Enjoy the theatre musings of Dr. Sean Dineen, D.Litt.
Theatre for Everyone and Access for All
at Paper Mill Playhouse
I am extraordinarily pleased to herald the many accommodations and services offered for patrons with disabilities at the Tony Award-winning Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey. The theatre has sign interpreted performances and provides captioning, as well as infra-red head phones. Service animals are welcomed. The theatre is accessible to wheelchairs and other mobility devices. In addition, the shows are Broadway caliber, and everyone can enjoy them.
There is also a thriving Education Department at the Paper Mill Playhouse, inclusive of an adaptive creative drama program for young people with disabilities, ages 6 to 21. It is called Theatre for Everyone. The class begins with a "doodling" and drawing period as a transition exercise. Then, the program joyously employs theatre games, wheelchair dance, sign language, and scene performances to promote communication, cooperation, self-esteem, and having fun. Theatre in Motion collaborates with the playhouse to create this program.
The most interesting part of the Theatre for Everyone program is when students work together to create a “Magic Clay.” The pretend clay is transformed into any non-violent object, with silly sound effects, and no words. Playing baseball, riding a roller coaster, or imitating various animals are among the top creations. Students’ augmentative communication devices are deliciously incorporated into the sound effects and spoken lines.
Folk tales including Stone Soup and the African myth Abiyoyo are acted out. Non-traditional casting allows students and their typical relatives to play many parts. One group adapted a visit to the circus and face painted the director and her assistant. Of great importance, typical siblings, parents, and caregivers are invited to attend the classes with the Special Needs students. This expands the age range of the class to pre-kindergarten through octogenarian.
Autism Friendly performances are an important part of this cornucopia of disability inclusion. The volume of the stage performance is kept at an even, moderate level, and young people are permitted to carry their digital devices with them during the show. Audience members can move and walk around if desired, and nobody is told to stop talking or be quiet during the performance. The house light are "on" about halfway, and there is a rest area with toys and a TV screen so the show can be watched in simulcast in this “chill out” zone. Patrons are assisted by ABA trained support staff, and a good time is had by all. The general public attends, as well. This has been such a success that many other theatres across the country offer Austism Friendly shows too.
In the spring of 2019, Theatre for Everyone expanded with an Acting and Improv class for adults with and without disabilities. This is another Theatre in Motion collaboration.
Theatre for Everyone, indeed. Come one, come all!
Also ... be sure to check out Theatre in Motion's new online Professional Development Course: