GRANT 191:

CO/LAB Theater Group

05/02/2016

NYC’s primary theater arts organizations for individuals with developmental disabilities. Oh, and their supporting artists are pretty awesome, too.

Liz Plank, aka @feministafabulous, is everywhere. You might know her from Mic’s Flip The Script Series, or her numerous television appearances, or perhaps Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Media list, or maybe when she is blowing up your social media feed in the best possible way. To put it simply, she is a feminist media rockstar, and recently brought her brilliance to Vox.com as a senior producer and correspondent. When she isn’t running the world in Beyonce-like fashion, she’s an advisor for GirlUp (a UN Foundation campaign to unite girls to change the world) and a supporting volunteer artist for CO/LAB Theater Group (NYC’s primary theater arts organization for individuals with developmental disabilities). When Liz recently asked for donations to CO/LAB instead of birthday presents this year (awesome), and introduced us to this absolutely amazing organization, our team unanimously stamped this combo package as AWESOME. So Liz Plank, this one’s for you! Happy Birthday.

CO/LAB Theater Group (which you might even remember from one of Liz’s Flip the Script episodes) is a non-profit organization blurring the line between “ability” and “disability.” Dedicated to providing Creative Opportunities without Limits And Boundaries, they offer individuals with developmental disabilities a creative and social outlet through theater arts. The group serves 200 individuals annually through their programming, which helps remove the limits of what individuals with developmental disabilities can achieve artistically, and in their everyday lives. Programming consists of on-site acting and musical theater ensemble classes, and off-site residences and workshops. Not only do these classes and performances train participants in fundamental acting techniques, but they also help them find their voice and improve their teamwork, self-confidence, self-awareness, and social skills.

What sets CO/LAB apart, in the most awesome way, is their conscious choice to call their program participants “actors” and to rehearse and perform only in professional studios and venues. In doing so, they send a message to the rest of the world that these actors have art to be shared and deserve to be taken seriously. Period.  Each class works diligently towards an end of semester performance and we are so thrilled to put our AWB grant towards the production of “Where the Sea Meets the Sky” at PIT Theater on June 11th and 12th. Through puppetry and devised scene work, the actors will tell the story of a bird meeting a fish. It’s going to be awesome. 

Learn more about CO/LAB and follow their exciting journey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. And don’t forget to wish Liz a very happy birthday! Tweet at her here