175 Lawrence Avenue in Brooklyn holds a thriving campus of ADAPT Community Network services. The building contains Brooklyn Day Hab 1 and 3, a Techworks lab for assistive technology, our School-Age Program, a clinic, and even a pool, all connected to the ADAPT preschool across the street.
Though they share a building and facilities, until now, Brooklyn Day Hab 1 and 3 and the School-Age Program had not yet participated in activities together. Peter Anzalone, Senior Vice President of Education Services, and Jeisson Cardona, Vice President of Program Services, came up with the idea to take advantage of both groups’ shared facilities, which evolved into a collaborative theatre class beginning in January 2023.
Thanks to their participation in several stage productions a year, many of the adults we support are seasoned theatre experts. During the weekly theatre class, they assist Theatre Specialists Hunter Kaufer and Theo Kolbrener as “Teaching Artists,” where their role is to help plan lessons and practice new material.
“People supported who facilitate class as ‘Teaching Artists’ are leaders in the work they do on and off stage,” Theo explained. “We asked our adult actors who are excited about working with kids and are willing to have a weekly time commitment to help lead this class. We work with them on their facilitation skills: how can we get the students’ attention if people are distracted? How do we build energy on slower days? How can we break down more difficult exercises to make them more accessible?”
After the Teaching Artists plan the day’s class, they reconvene in the multipurpose room with students from the two eldest School-Age classes . Typically, the class begins with a silly warm-up exercise to help the students loosen up and build on skills like diction, projection, and memorization. Next, the participants work together on an improv activity led by the Teaching Artists. Finally, the class culminates in a performance, where students are invited to improvise, act out a story, or sing along to a song.
To close out the first year of weekly collaborative theatre classes, parents and family members of the student performers were invited to observe a class at Lawrence Ave. They were happy to see how the young actors had grown throughout the year and watched as students showed off their new skills, laughed, and performed a sing-along performance of Puff the Magic Dragon complete with costumes and set pieces.
“We have seen tremendous improvements in communication/expression since the class started,” said Rivka Wiener, Director of the Brooklyn School-Age Program. “Students are more animated and when they arrive to Theatre class they are excited and vocalize a lot. This is a highlight of the week for them.”
Similarly, the adults we support have thoroughly enjoyed their experience teaching and acting with the kids.
“As a teacher, it has been really wonderful to see how the Teaching Artists have grown in the last year,” Theo said. “They are able to lead exercises on their own that were difficult when we first started, they bring in their own ideas about games and activities to planning sessions, and they have found new ways to bring more students into the world of theatre.”
The School-Age and Adult Day Program will be continuing their theatre classes in 2024, and are making the collaboration a permanent fixture at 175 Lawrence Avenue.
To learn more about our programs and services like these, please contact Project Connect at firstname.lastname@example.org or (877) 827-2666.