Disability no barrier to performance art

19 April 2016

Wiley Park’s Horizon Theatre doesn’t see actors with disabilities – they see actors with potential who work hard to achieve great things.

Helped by a $14,955 community grant from Canterbury League Club, their ‘Art Can Do It’ program aims to bring participants with minor disabilities and mental health issues up to a level where they can work alongside professional performers.

The program is divided into two parts; training young people with disabilities to perform street theatre at community events such as the Haldon Street Festival and Carols in the Park; and workshops introducing participants to physical theatre, mime, dance and puppetry.

Horizon Theatre recently held a joint picnic and interactive drama workshop with disability support organisation, FRANS Inc, at Wiley Park to celebrate National Youth Week.

“The broad aims [of this program] are to provide a form of physical recreation to participants, build self-confidence and allow these young people to express their creativity. They also learn team working skills. Most importantly, they learn they can get involved and can demonstrate the ability to overcome perceived obstacles associated with their disabilities and conditions,” said Maddy Slabacu, Artistic Director at Horizon Theatre Company.

“The benefits of being involved with the arts are almost immediately noticeable. You see it in the smiles of participants and in their growing enthusiasm to try more things and stretch themselves further. We just know the kids often enter shy and uncertain and leave excited and enthusiastic. We pretty much feel like our work is done!”

Asides from improving participants’ self-confidence, theatre work is a very physical activity and it is an exercise in movement and co-ordination and the ability to repeat an action. Participants also get to work out their bodies in an environment that is supportive and is less based on competition.

“Parents have been particularly enthusiastic about the results – getting their children to overcome their difficulties and perform in front of an audience has certainly surprised some of them,” said Maddy.

“Disabilities shouldn’t be a barrier to enjoying performance arts; Canterbury is proud to sponsor a program that raises awareness of the arts in our community and the importance of everyone getting a fair go to try something new,” said Dr George Peponis OAM, Chairman of Canterbury League Club.

Interested parents of participants should contact Horizon Theatre on 9750 9567.