BY Alicia Chesser l The Tulsa Voice
Organizational Meetings for The Penguin Project
Clark Youth Theatre announces the first informational meetings for The Penguin Project® at the Henthorne Performing Arts Center, 4825 S. Quaker. Meetings will be held on Saturday, October 3rd at 3pm and Tuesday, October 6th at 6pm. Those interested in participating do not need to attend both meetings; the information covered will be the same each time.
The Penguin Project® provides an opportunity for children with disabilities to develop creative skills related to the theatre arts. Clark Youth Theatre is seeking young artists ages 8-18 with a disability to participate, and the program includes children with cognitive, learning, motor, hearing and visual impairments; genetic disorders; and neurological conditions. There are no restrictions based on the level of cognitive ability, restriction of mobility, or lack of communication skills. For issues of safety, Clark Youth Theatre is unable to accept anyone with a severe behavioral disorder that might endanger the child or others.
The Penguin Project® also utilizes a “peer mentor” system, linking each young artist with an age-level peer who does not have a disability. The peer mentors work side-by-side with their partners, assisting them through the entire rehearsal process and onstage. They are onstage during the production, costumed to match or compliment their partners. Clark Youth Theatre is seeking volunteers interested in participating in The Penguin Project® as mentors.
For its inaugural production, Clark Youth Theatre will perform The Music Man JR, book, music and lyrics by Meredith Wilson, based on a story by Meredith Wilson and Franklin Lacey. The production is directed by Norah Sweeney. Performances will be March 4-6, 2016 at Booker T. Washington High School, 1514 E Zion St, Tulsa, OK 74106.
Clark Youth Theatre is proud to be the first theatre in Oklahoma to produce The Penguin Project®, conceived by Dr. Andrew Morgan, Professor Emeritus of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. Through his professional contact with his patients and families, Dr. Morgan recognized that children with special needs and their families often feel isolated, and have limited opportunities to participate in community activities, especially when programs need to make accommodations for special challenges. He also realized that participation in the performing arts has specific therapeutic value by enhancing socialization, communication skills, and self-esteem. So in 2004, he decided to combine his two passions and The Penguin Project® was born.
Since 2004, The Penguin Project® has produced one musical theatre production each year at Eastlight Theatre in East Peoria, IL. The program has grown substantially since its inception to include over 80 children each year. It was the parents in the program who encouraged Dr. Andy to share his concept with others. There are currently seven replication sites around the country, and Clark Youth Theatre is the newest replication site for The Penguin Project®.
For more information about classes, activities, and programs at Henthorne PAC, please visit us online at: www.clarkyouththeatre.com.