Dreamers Theater on WXXI-TV

Thu, 01/12/2012 - 9:30pm

Credit: dreamerstheater.org

Cognitively challenged teens and young adults stage the original musical, Assuming Assumptions.

The uplifting performance documentary Dreamers Theater, airing Thursday, January 12 at 9:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11), follows a group of cognitively challenged teens and young adults as they rehearse and stage the original musical, Assuming Assumptions. The play dramatizes the issues faced by individuals with special needs in the hopes of increasing awareness about this population and their capabilities. Dreamers Theater is part of WXXI and Al Sigl Community of Agencies' annual Dialogue on Disability: The Herman & Margaret Schwartz Community Series, which is a week-long outreach initiative designed to stimulate community dialogue about the perspectives and abilities of people with disabilities.

Members of this Richmond, Va.-based acting troupe live with a variety of developmental disabilities, including autism, Down's Syndrome, Asperger's Syndrome and other high-functioning disorders or differences. Off-stage, Ross Lipstock - the son of show creator Joan Babich Lipstock - lives with an autism spectrum disorder; on stage, he overcomes his social awkwardness and communication difficulties to portray young men dealing with the same challenges he navigates every day - employment, transportation woes, housing, relationships and more.

Dreamers Theater formed in 2004 to extend the support when a developmentally disabled individual reaches adulthood. Today, the community-based theater enhances the lives of these young men and women in myriad ways. It enables them to showcase their artistic abilities, practice transferable life skills, build confidence, gain a higher level of independence and to socialize with, and serve as role models for, their peers.

Dream Theater intercuts real-life stories together with similar scenes from the play: a young couple with Asperger's syndrome go on a date, a young man with Down's Syndrome works his shift at a local restaurant and another young man misses his bus stop and loses his way home.

Dialogue on Disability is a broadcast intiative that celebrates the amazing lives of people with disabilities. It runs January 8-15th and is made possible thanks to support from the Fred L. Emerson Foundation.