MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Oddfellows Playhouse and MARC: Community Resources are embarking on a new programmatic effort providing weekly theater arts training to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Oddfellows will provide instruction for MARC’s consumers in many theatrical skills, including Beginning Acting, Mask Theater, and Comedy and Improvisation. The arts training will build important skills for consumers to use outside of the theater. They will develop collaborative ensemble skills, become more comfortable with public speaking, learn to better communicate ideas, and express their imaginations and emotions.
“The process of theater is a skill building process, and we believe that MARC’s consumers will strengthen fundamental life skills that will help them live more independently. The focus on expression and communication should help consumers develop their ability to interact with others, and better comprehend social cues,” said Oddfellows’ Executive Director Matthew Pugliese. “This is an underserved audience that is in equal need for the experience and excitement of theater and the arts in their lives.”
“Communication, working together in a group, sharing ideas and listening to others are skills that will help our consumers retain jobs, interact with their families and strengthen their self-confidence” said Lou Alperowitz, Vice President of MARC’s Vocational and Leisure Services program.
MARC’s mission of empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to realize their dreams fits well with Oddfellows Playhouse’s mission of building essential life skills through the theatrical arts. The two non-profits became neighbors three years ago, when MARC moved its administrative offices from Portland to Middletown. The organizations first collaborated in August 2012 on an original play at Oddfellows. The overwhelmingly positive response from MARC consumers led to plans to maintain a beneficial collaborative relationship.
“Our consumers have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else. They want jobs, they want to be independent and they want to have fun things to do with their friends,” said MARC President/CEO Liz Warner. “Every consumer involved with this new theatrical program is choosing to be involved, and open to the possibilities. This will give them an opportunity to try new things and make their dreams a reality.”
The collaboration will begin in April and last for eight weeks. The organizations are already working on securing funding to make this a permanent part of MARC’s programming for people with disabilities. “We are excited to begin this partnership with Oddfellows and want the community to be involved. Funding is being sought make this a part of our consumers’ lives year round,” said Andy Heuer, MARC Director of Development.