Celebrating Disabled Artists and Youth Performers Through Our Access to Theater Summer Showcase

Last month, we hosted our Access to Theater Summer Showcase, a free community event showcasing disabled artists and youth performers, the Access to Theater Summer Showcase, at Cyclorama @ the Boston Center for the Arts. We were pleased to have more than 150 community members in attendance for our first in-person Access to Theater event in the past few years!

As our award-winning inclusive theater program for teens and young adults that helps them develop communication, artistic, and leadership skills and lasting professional and personal friendships, participants in our Access to Theater program worked hard throughout the past several weeks as they prepared to perform.

Participants performing

On August 19th, 2022, doors opened at 4:30 pm to kick off our series of exciting events throughout the next few hours.

Freelance cellist Robert Rivera started the show at 4:45 pm in the salon, where he played the cello while another artist played the piano. Studying cello since the age of seven, Robert is principal cellist with the Norwood Symphony and has been an orchestral member of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Brookline Symphony, Longwood Symphony, New Hampshire Philharmonic, Rhode Island Symphony, and the Fabric Musik Ensemble of Stuttgart in Germany.

Following Robert’s performance was multifaceted artist Eamon Anderson who took the mainstage at 5:30 pm to play a variety of songs on his guitar, with one of them being Billie Jean by Michael Jackson. Eamon’s work can be heard anywhere from live concerts to self-produced albums, EPs, singles, and cable TV. In addition to scoring multiple segments for Emmy Award winning television show, HitRecord, Eamon has worked with a number of artists on their Youtube channels, providing music for their content.

Covering the last of our guest performances before our Access to Theater participants performed was president and CEO of SoulTouchin’ Experiences, Keith Jones, at 6:15 pm, where he sang / rapped and even freestyled when the crowd asked for more! Keith started SoulTouchin’ Experiences to bring a perspective to the issues of access inclusion and empowerment which affect people with a disability as well as other marginalized communities. As an Access to Theater alum and former teaching artist, we were thrilled to have Keith included in our performance.

In between performances, our guests were able to enjoy various food and beverage options, including our Signature Mocktail and other non-alcoholic beverages as well as passed appetizers and ready-to-go crudités and charcuterie cups. This gave everyone just the right amount of energy to prepare for our final performance by our youth at 7 pm!

This year’s theme of our youth’s performance was “Freedom Through the Looking Glass,” which involved celebrating the freedom of being back in person and creating art together again. Many of our participants had the opportunity to meet in person for the first time this summer, after experiencing this program virtually for the past three years, to work together on dance, musical, and theatrical performances. They also had the chance to try a unique visual art form – recycled art, expressing themselves artistically by repurposing trash, and conserving the environment at the same time.

Also featured at our Summer Showcase was “The Largest Mural in History,” presented by the Art Without Borders for Peace Cultural Association and the World Organization of Integrated Artists. Initially composed of 1,000 artworks with a thematic focus on the environment, the mural is intended to be registered in the Guinness World Records. The first stage of this gigantic mosaic is constructed of square artworks created by adults and children from countries worldwide. These pieces were designed and created by our participants throughout this year’s Access to Theater program and will be included in the final installation of the mosaic. PYD is the only disability organization that was asked to participate, and we were honored to have this involvement.

We all enjoyed the opportunity to work with these young artists and be a part of their creative growth this summer. As Deep Chinappa, Artistic Director shared, “Access to Theater this year has been special. Everyone let down their guard, especially without masks, to give 100% of their creativity. The artists worked together as a team to support every participant’s choices, whether it was acting/improv, dance/movement, singing/percussion, or art. In the end, the show came together and everyone gave 100% of their experience in 8 days.”

We’re especially grateful for our partners and sponsors for helping to make this happen: National Endowment for the Arts, Boston After School & Beyond, Mass Cultural Center, DCR Massachusetts, and Boston Center for the Arts.

Interested in learning more about our Access to Theater program? Head to our program page and stay tuned for future events!