Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
STUDENT CENTER - BLOGS
Click Here to Visit the College Center


BWW Blog: From Ambiguous to Individuals: My Experience Teaching Actors with Disabilities

One of my professors suggested that I help her teach drama to adults with developmental disabilities at a program called Unless U.

BWW Blog: From Ambiguous to Individuals: My Experience Teaching Actors with Disabilities
Hosea and the other people
at Unless U continually
inspire Audrey.

Picture me, an eager college freshman, certain that I could save the world through theatre, but a bit overwhelmed with where to start. I had grandeur dreams of opening my own nonprofit children's theatre and working with underprivileged youth of some sort. Incorporating outreach was an important part of my life's plan, but who I would reach out to was fuzzy; I didn't yet have any individual relationships with populations that I had hoped to aid.

During my first semester of college, one of my professors suggested that I help her teach drama to adults with developmental disabilities at a program called Unless U.

This was a bit out of my comfort zone. However, I liked the idea of volunteering my time for "those less fortunate," but what would we possibly be doing? The first day of class quickly came, and I found myself a bit nervous. At the start, my professor began class with everyone in a circle. Looking around, I saw many people that looked quite different from me. Throughout that first class, I wondered a lot. I secretly and guiltily wondered if I would ever feel entirely comfortable around them.

BWW Blog: From Ambiguous to Individuals: My Experience Teaching Actors with Disabilities
The cast celebrates after a great performance.

Despite my first week's reservations, I returned to help teach theatre at Unless U.

I began to learn each of the students' names, and they learned mine. I noticed how they continually cheered on each other with words of encouragement, high-fives, and pats on the back. I built relationships with each of the students, and shared an especially strong bond with a young man named Malone. Malone was my buddy; I helped him with his blocking and lines, and in return, Malone would flash me one of his signature smiles.

BWW Blog: From Ambiguous to Individuals: My Experience Teaching Actors with Disabilities
Malone, pictured in the white Snoopy costume,
is one of the most joyful people that Audrey knows.

A change had clearly happened within me; I began to see each of the students as unique individuals instead of an ambiguous group of disabled adults.

As the semester went on, the people in the drama group became my dear friends. What I remember most about their performance was an overwhelming sense of pride for what my friends accomplished. The ironic thing about this experience is that I started out thinking I was the one who would be teaching them, but it didn't end up like that.

BWW Blog: From Ambiguous to Individuals: My Experience Teaching Actors with Disabilities
Audrey cherishes the friendships
she has made throughteaching drama at Unless U.

I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity to work with this same group of inspiring young people.

We've added some new friends, and I've had the pleasure of getting to know them, too. Everyday that I work with the drama class, I'm reminded of the spirit we should all bring to theatre: one of love and wonder. My life is so much richer because of the relationships I have built with each and every one of my friends at Unless U.

Today, as a soon-to-be senior, I know that my time with Unless U has changed the trajectory of my life.

I now see the need for theatre programs to include individuals with disabilities and create new, equitable experiences especially for them. My new dream is to facilitate a theatre education program in which people of all abilities are empowered through theatre, together. I will forever be an advocate for those with disabilities due to the fact that they represent the brightest of us.


Check out more Student Blogs here! And don't miss a single blog by following our Instagram and liking our Facebook page!


Featured at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More

Related Articles

From This Author Student Blogger: Audrey Myers