ACT Blog--Join us by adding your comments!

The Huron Area Community Theater (ACT) and the Center for Independence (CFI), a non-profit agency that supports adults with disabilities,  began something big in 2009 when  members of the ACT and people with disabilities who are supported by CFI joined together to put on a theatrical production.The goal was to create a venue where people had an opportunity to express themselves through the theater and provide a bridging opportunity for people with and without disabilities with common interests. Since that time they have partnered on three productions, "Voices", "Gravity" and "A Party of One". Plans are underway for the fourth production, "Voices Part Deux" which will be held in March, 2013.  

Since this partnership was started, a key part of it has been the support and services of KelsyAnne Schoenhaar, from Encore Studios, a professional theater company for people with disabilities, in Madison, WI. To begin each production cycle, Schoenhaar meets with the people with disabilities who desire to be a part of the production. As she gets to know each of them during a two or three day acting class, in which people are educated on the theatre and practice through improvisation, she is mentally developing ideas for the scripts which she will write over the next 2 months. As a playwrite she  writes scripts that each actor has the ability to perform, regardless of their disability.  These scripts both enable all people who have an interest in theatre to be a part of the production and educate and challenge the audience's perceptions of people with disabilities. The first two productions, "Voices" and "Gravity", were directed by Schoenhaar and included professional actors with disabilities from the Encore Studios. "A Party of One" was directed by local directors, Mike Lyon and Georgia Langbehn and featured only local actors from Huron, SD.

The partnership has resulted in many side-benefits. The experiences have made a positive impact on many people's lives.  Individuals with disabilities have been increasingly involved in community theater productions as actors, stage hands, ushers and set construction.  Jay Kightlinger, one of the actors with a disability, has been added to the Huron Area Community Theater board of directors.  The Community Theater has benefitted as their volunteer base has increased dramatically. 

 

An evening of original, one act plays presented by the Huron Players.  This production will range from the semi-serious to the simply outrageous and include plays with and without music.  Actors both with and without disabilities will take the stage and offer perspectives seldom considered.  “Voices” is Written and Directed by Playwright, KelsyAnne Schoenhaar, founder of Encore Studio for the Performing Arts from Madison Wisconsin.  Her experience writing about the stories told to her and writing to the actors she has worked with, will afford the Huron Community an utterly unique experience. 


How does a person rebuild a life after a disabling illness?  Based on a true story, Gravity leads us through these challenges. Actors both with and without disabilities will take the stage offering perspectives seldom considered. “Gravity” is the true story about Dawn Cieszynski, a 15 year old girl who woke up in a hospital to find herself paralyzed from the neck down after an ear infection developed into bacterial spinal meningitis followed by three debilitating strokes. Ciesynski was in Huron on October 1st and 2nd with playwright KelsyAnne Schoenhaar who wrote “Gravity” specifically for the Huron Players from the Center for Independence and members of the Huron Area Community Theater.

 

  

 

A Party of One” was inspired by Gladys Pyle, one of the first women legislators in the country. The story explores the possibilities of what it would be like if a person with a disability ran for office. Just as Pyle, of Huron, must have often felt like a party of one in the Legislature, this play spotlighted a candidate with autism running for public office. We knew that the content of the production would challenge people’s predetermined ideas about people with disabilities and would encourage them to reconsider some of those beliefs."A Party of One,” had a cast of 23, including 13 people with disabilities supported by the Center for Independence and 10 actors from Huron Area Community Theater.

 The productions are funded by the Huron Area Center for Independence Foundation, Huron Area Community Theater, United Way and the South Dakota Arts Council.

News Articles: A Party of One   

                    An Inspiring Story Gives New Twist to Upcoming Play

  

 Huron Center for Independence and ACT presents, “Voices Part Deux”.   Back by popular demand,  the audience can look forward to their favorites from Voices, a sequel, and additional  original, one act plays presented by the Huron Players.  This production will range from the semi-serious to the simply outrageous and include plays with and without music.  Actors both with and without disabilities will take the stage and offer perspectives seldom considered.  “Voices” is Written by Playwright, KelsyAnne Schoenhaar, founder of Encore Studio for the Performing Arts from Madison Wisconsin.  Her experience writing about the stories told to her and writing to the actors she has worked with, will afford the Huron Community an utterly unique experience.  The production is co-directed by Mike Lyon and Georgia Langbehn. We are happy to welcome two young men from Mitchell who have also joined the production.  Performances will be held at the Pepsi Cola Theatre in Mitchell on March 23rd (7-9) and 24th (2-4)  and at the Fine Arts Center in Huron on March 29 (7-9) and March 30 (2-4 and 7-9).