Imagine for a moment that you have a disability; one that prevents you from fulfilling your dreams, from reaching your full potential, from sharing your passion, your creativity, from being all that you can be. For 15 aspiring actors that was the reality. That is until Community Living Dufferin created a unique, inspirational Drama Group.
The first year, 2003, these talented actors perform a simple one act play to a small group of guests in the CLD cafeteria. The second year, 2004, two dedicated staff took over, changing the format to musicals which offered more variety & fun. Grease was performed on the stage of the local high school & was a resounding success.
It was apparent that these talented young actors had potential to create bigger & better productions. Our relationship with David Nairn, Artistic Director at Theatre Orangevillee saw the partnership form between the Theatre & the drama group. In 2005 the actors performed Lion King on the Theatre Orangeville stage to a sold-out crowd. The enthusiasm of the performers overshadowed their initial nervousness at such an auspicious venue. Their performances were electric & culminated in thunderous applause & standing ovation.
Their fourth production promised & delivered more of the same with The Wizard of Oz. Stunning costumes, vivid & vibrant sets complete with a Yellow Brick Road. Volunteers worked tirelessly to re-create the Land of Oz & the actors brought the story to life for the audience.
By the fifth year it was apparent that our actors needed more of a challenge & that one show was not enough. Given its popularity, its controversial topic of discrimination & seclusion the cast chose to perform Hairspray.
Two wildly successful sold-out performances showcased the tremendous potential of these developmentally disabled actors their unfailing dedication & passion for their roles, fellow actors & a performance quality which comes from the heart.
From this was born the idea of partnering with Theatre Orangeville to create a more professionally trained theatrical group. To broaden their horizons, to increase their knowledge of not just the performance but set construction, costumes creation & maintenance of each production.
Creative Partners on Stage was formed in 2007 an exciting collaboration between Theatre Orangeville & Community Living Dufferin. A pilot project like no other, it fosters strong relationships & strengthens the capacity of our community as a whole by offering a model of inclusion.
The goal; to enrich the actors’ stage experience, develop artistic capacity by leading through storytelling, movement, dance, improvisation, teamwork, interpersonal skills & voice exercises designed for performers with & without disabilities.
It nurtures creativity & imagination of people with intellectual disabilities & makes cultural experiences more accessible to them.
This creative process leads the actors on a path of personal empowerment; builds self-confidence & allows self-expression. Through acting, thoughts and feelings may be expressed that would otherwise be difficult to articulate. Creative Partners on Stage is a non-judgmental environment within which the actors may develop their talents.
Our productions will help to engage awareness & educate our community on inclusion & promote integration. It’s our goal to plant seeds of respect & foster dialogue as the preferred means of promoting understanding & integration within our community.
Under the tutelage of a professional team the actors participate in drama workshops & have undergone immense growth & presence on stage. The 2009 production of Beauty & the Beast showcased the growth & continuing potential these actors possess & display on stage. Gone is the fear & trepidation felt that first year of performing. That fear is now replaced with confidence & while first night jitters remain, the actors are eager to step into their characters & entertain the audience with performances that garners singing & dancing in the aisles. The toe tapping & hand clapping resonates through the theatre & standing ovations round out each performance as the actors show just what they can accomplish with perseverance, dedication & a desire to achieve their full potential.
We choose stories which share a topic of seclusion & discrimination while focusing on the ability to overcome the oft debilitating emotional scars which can result from such actions.
It’s our hope to continue to produce live theatre that teaches our community about inclusion & acceptance of people of all abilities while in the process entertaining them. We hope to serve as a mentor to encourage other communities to move forward with similar projects of their own.
With funding we can continue to reach for the stars & make performing on Broadway a reality for people with development disabilities.
Creative Partners on Stage (CPOS) actors work with Theatre Orangeville (TOV) directors and choreographers to develop two original scripts each year, fully supported by TOV’s professional production team and the accredited support workers of Community Living Dufferin.
There is nothing quite like CPOS anywhere in Canada and it happens right here in our community at your theatre!
We would like to respectfully acknowledge that Dufferin County resides within the traditional territory and ancestral lands of the Tionontati (Petun), Attawandaron (Neutral),
Haudenosaunee (Six Nations), and Anishinaabe peoples.