THE INCLUSION THEATRE PROJECT
Area Stage Company's Inclusion Theatre Project (ITP) is a one-of-a-kind theatre training program for students with developmental and intellectual disabilities founded by Executive Director Maria Banda-Rodaz. Though all ASC Conservatory classes have always been fully inclusive, ITP is focused solely on its students' progress, allowing instructors to tailor their approach based upon unique student needs and abilities.
The program originated in 2014 from ASC's belief that training in the performing arts teaches vital tools for life. ITP trained instructors reach participants through multi-modal classes within the musical theatre medium, assisting in their journey and development as they move towards adulthood. The program serves student actors across South Florida, ages five and up, with developmental disabilities who are eager to expand their talents. Coaches also travel to local partner schools to provide on-site, outreach classes to individuals who might not otherwise have the opportunity to explore and access their abilities through the arts. ITP currently serves over 200 youth through onsite classes at ASC'S Riviera Theatre and coordinated outreach classes by ITP instructors at five local partner schools, the fifth of which just joined in late 2019.
Yearly, students present two public access musical theatre productions, this year to be performed in July 2020 and December 2020, as well as multiple outreach performances at many community events. Productions are full-length musicals, rehearsed and performed at ASC's Riviera Theatre and are produced with extensive set, costumes, and lighting. ITP pairs "partner actors" of all ages from the ASC Conservatory with ITP students for each production to bolster the ensemble. This promotes and environment of awareness and camaraderie, while also allowing for more individual attention and instruction for each ITP actor.
“ITP has been a blessing for my daughter. She’s becoming more social every day, and each ITP production helps her become more confident. Her self esteem has been healing and she’s becoming a much better person, more capable of doing things, more independent. She loves theater with all her heart since she was a little girl, and Area Stage Company with this project is working miracles in her life. This project has given Ana a perfect space to channel her passion for theater. Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart!!!!”
- ITP Parent
Community outreach performances currently take place an average of 10 times per year at many events, including the Coral Gables Arts Festival, the All Kids Included Family Arts Festival, and ArtsLaunch at the Arsht Center to name just a few.
ITP's primary goal has always been high-quality performing arts education for each and every student. The program also aims to counter the devastating effects of judgments often leveled at students with development and intellectual disabilities in today's society. Unfortunately, the shortcomings of our students are often emphasized instead of their unique strengths and abilities. ITP focuses on helping students manifest what they are capable of achieving. Through the innovative, comprehensive curriculum developed by ASC Conservatory founders with the help of special education expert consultants, developing actors across the board experience socially relevant and impactful artistic interactions which inspire change and foster understanding in audiences and the greater community.
ITP’s 2020 goals include...
Increasing the number of local partner schools served from 5 to 6.
Adding 2 new instructors to the program.
Increase number of students served to 250.
Increase number of yearly productions.
Integrate ITP students into ASC Mainstage productions.