Five years ago today, a young boy named Robby suffered in an accident which left him with a severe brain injury. Robby had performed with NBYT for the first time in the past summer’s production of Seussical JR, and Robby’s mother is NBYT director, musical director, and teaching artist Angela Klimaytis. For five years, Robby’s family has continued to care for, love, and fight for him, and we’ve enjoyed having him in the audience for several productions.
At NBYT, we know that all children can enjoy and benefit from participation in theater, no matter what their abilities or the extent of their participation may be. In honor of Robby, we’re announcing today a new All-Inclusive Program for children and teens of any and all physical, mental, sensory, and emotional abilities. Program development and the first year of programming have been funded by a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain.
An eight-week introductory Stage Performance class on Monday afternoons for ages 8 to 18 will begin the programming in January. As with all of the our Stage Performance classes, the curriculum will include drama games and warm-ups, development of voice and movement skills to each student’s abilities, ensemble building, instruction of stage performance skills, and rehearsal of scenes for performance. The class will conclude with a showcase performance of scenes for an audience of family and friends. Spring programming will include a second eight-week class plus a small-scale production to be announced.
All-inclusive programming includes those children—as well as others who may choose to participate—in a program that will specifically welcome, engage, and challenge each of them to their own physical, mental, sensory, and emotional abilities. As with all NBYT programming, classes and rehearsal will align with National Arts Standards and over time will cover a range of theatrical texts and styles.
NBYT has included participants on the autism spectrum, with learning disorders, and with physical disabilities or limitations in past productions. Often, however, we’ve gotten inquiries or requests to offer programming so that children or teens who are more challenged may participate as well—specifically because of the social and emotional benefits of participation and because such programming is lacking in central Connecticut.
Classes and productions will be led by Senior Teaching Artist Nicki LaPorte. Working with the theater since 2011, LaPorte is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University with a double major in Educational Theater and U.S. History. During the day she works with New Britain Public Schools in special education, and in the afternoons and evenings she brings a love of the performing arts to children and teens in acting classes and shows. She has also directed and taught through Hartford Performs, East Hartford Public Schools, Performing Arts Programs, the Gateway Project in Huntingon, Massachusetts, and The Freedom Theater in the West Bank of Palestine. She has performed recently with Hole in the Wall Theater in New Britain, and with Elmwood Productions in West Hartford as a puppeteer.
Families interested in learning more about New Britain Youth Theater’s all-inclusive programming or pre-registering for winter or spring programs may contact the theater by email at email@example.com or by phone at 860-515-8115. More information about other NBYT productions and programming may also be found online at www.nbyt.org.