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Theatre For Special People: Studio Roanoke Announces New Program

The world of theatre can be magical. Comedy, tragedy, mystery …whatever the genre, it is easy to become engrossed in the story.  For those on and behind the stage, the theatre experience becomes an outlet for creativity; a place to work with like-minded peers.  Writer, performer, or technician, the theatre is a place to call home; a place to share gifts with fellow artists that understand the need to be involved in theatre.

For members of our community with disabilities, that opportunity is limited to participation in the audience. Studio Roanoke would like to change that by offering a program tailored specifically to the special needs population of the Roanoke Valley.

On July 13 at 6 p.m., the first information session of Theatre for Special People (TSP) will be held in the fellowship hall at Raleigh Court Presbyterian Church, located at 1837 Grandin Road SW.  The purpose of the meeting is to arouse interest in the program, recruit volunteers, and to receive valuable feedback from individuals and caregivers on how to proceed.

Programs that promote self-awareness, intellectual stimulation and athletic participation have been created specifically for the disabled community with great success. For example, Eunice Kennedy Shriver created the first public summer workshop for children with intellectual disabilities in 1962 at her home in Maryland.  Mrs. Shriver’s program continues to be very successful and is now widely known as Special Olympics. Today, over 40,000 athletes are involved in Special Olympics each year in the state of Virginia alone.

Therapeutic Recreation Services of the Roanoke Valley provides a popular program for young adults with developmental disabilities.  Fitness, hands-on art projects, movies, dances, bowling outings and pizza parties are all activities that members of the program enjoy.  For Geoffrey Weaver, his Tuesday Mingle group has become an important part of his weekly routine.

“We like to have dances or see a movie, but we don’t have theatre for our group yet.  I have a lot of friends.  They know I am an actor.  I tell them that the new program will be good for them too,” said Geoffrey. He is a member of the committee that has been working on creating the TSP program for Studio Roanoke, providing valuable information about what a theatre program could provide for him and his peers.

“People with different ways need to get involved with theatre.” Geoffrey added, “We need to have fun and have ideas and make promises to commit ourselves to it.” The idea of being a part of a theatrical ensemble excites him.

Like any new program, TSP will need many pairs of hands to see the idea come to fruition.  Some potential participants may need caregivers to assist them.  There is an immediate need for a sign language interpreter to help communicate with current committee members and possibly others. Volunteers with experience in special education and the disabled community are essential to help with teaching methods.  Therapists, actors, directors, playwrights, teachers and musicians can all be a part of the plan and design of a program that has the potential to reach numerous Roanoke Valley residents.

If you or someone you know has a special need that has prevented him or her from participating in the creativity that theatre provides for other members of the community, consider attending the information session on July 13th.  Refreshments will be provided for this first brief session.

If you would like more information prior to the meeting, email [email protected] or call (540)293-3745.


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