Sarah Gordin – Performance – Group 2, Round 2 Awardee
Devising a sensory performance for children with disabilities to experience the magic of the arts.
Our goal with this project is to make the arts accessible to those with disabilities. No theater exists in Philly that focuses on making theatre for the disabled community. With Round 2, we would have the funding to create an accessible experience for the children and families who attend (free shows, ASL interpreters), we would pay the creators involved a well-deserved stipend for their involvement, and we would pay for materials and local travel to make the performances happen.
As a teaching artist, I worked with children with disabilities at Hunter Elementary School and at the Friendship Circle Organization. These students inspired me to create theater for children with disabilities. I hope that this first iteration of an original devised sensory-friendly theatre production will continue in future years and become an annual offering from Philly Children’s Theatre.
In terms of the communities that I am engaging with, I have secured partnerships with several local organizations in different parts of Philly.
One partnership is the Julia de Burgos School. My contact there, Julia Gutman, runs an arts program, and with her students in grades 4-8, will have a club designed to create the various textile sensory pieces to bring the show to life. Another exciting aspect of the project is creating an original storybook for families to take home to remember the story and experience. This will be a project with the creative writing club at the Julia de Bugos school, also led by Julia Gutman, whose students will illustrate and design a bilingual children’s book. This takes the experience from just something that the families see one time to something that they can continue to read about and experience through the magic of reading. Another of our partnerships is with Historic Fairhill, one of the public performance sites for the show that families can register to attend for free. This location is also near the Julia de Burgos school so students involved in the textile and book illustrations have an opportunity to see their creations in the show.
We also have a partnership with the HMS School for cerebral palsy. This is one of our performance locations and will reach the students and families at the school. As part of this partnership, we will hold creative arts workshops for the students during the devising process to see what they are reacting to and will continue to create the show based on the responses, with the goal to give the students a voice in the creative process.
Another partnership we have is with SpArc, an organization supporting adults with intellectual and developmental delays. This organization will provide consulting for this production to make sure that we are creating the most accessible performance experience. In addition to these partnerships, I am in conversations with other organizations across Philadelphia. I am confident that this performance experience will reach many neighborhoods in Philly.