Access to Theatre: Building Confidence and Giving Voice

Group of four young participants acting while along a perimeter other participants look on

Access to Theatre’s 2016 Summer Institute is gearing up for another fantastic summer program for youth of all abilities! ATT’s Summer Institute will take place from July 18-29th , 2016, with performances on Friday, July 29th, 2016 at 1pm and 6pm at the Boston Center for the Arts! We hope you can join us!

Throughout 2016, ATT staff, artists and Peer Leaders continue to lead a series of 20 workshops at Massachusetts Hospital School (MHS) on Sunday afternoons, which began this year in October Fall 2015 and continued through May of 2016 . The sessions culminated with our Third Annual Showcase Event scheduled for Saturday, May 22nd, 2016 at 4pm Mass Hospital School. We thank all who could join us in this celebration of our youth’s many accomplishments this year!

ATT’s After School Program at MHS brings together MHS students and youth with disabilities from Greater Boston and surrounding communities to explore acting and improvisation. This year, we witnessed many new and past participants challenging themselves to explore using their voice to express their skills through working in small and large groups. In the fall of 2015, many participants started the program with little confidence, and over the course of the year, witnessed their growth as they have acquired skills and confidence to successfully create and explore different themes that emerged from the Sunday workshops. For example, one MHS student struggled with peer interaction in the beginning of the program, and as the sessions progressed, she demonstrated a growing sense of composure and is clearly developing her self-esteem through her full participation during the group sessions, during which she is always willing and eager to explore different characters and support her MHS peers. Each group explored a range of emotions, voice, and animal themes, including using sound scopes as activities for the groups. A highlight of the program this year was the immense support that the MHS staff provided working closely with ATT and the spirit of teamwork and strong sense of community that emerged.

ATT Peer Leaders continue to provide a strong presence by supporting younger peers and demonstrating skills. The work of the Peer Leaders creates a strong foundation through their peer role modeling, encouraging by example to inspire younger participants to take risks in practicing and developing their true voice of expression.

ATT’s Artistic Director, Deep Chinappa, shared that “The foundation of ATT is to give the ATT participants an opportunity to dig deep within, and not to be afraid to take risks. No answer is wrong but expression is crucial to help take the big step. The need to be kind to each other and build a community of budding, distinct artists opens up the gateway to enjoy each other’s creative expression. Although the participants had varying degree of challenges, the sense of patience and kindness prevailed, making it another successful year of creative expression.”

The success of ATT is captured in a wonderful video recently created by Northeastern University journalism students Aneri Pattani, Jane Cassingham, and Chinyen Chang, who visited ATT this spring as part of a school project focused on creating a series of video features on programs that expand access and inclusion for people with disabilities. The video they created about PYD’s Access to Theatre Program provides a moving glimpse into the magic of ATT! It can be viewed below.

Any youth interested in participating in the Access to Theatre’s 2016 Summer Institute should contact Deep Chinappa as soon as possible at We’re looking forward to another wonderful summer experience filled with creativity for all!

Comment (1)

  1. Kristen
    8 years ago

    Do you know if tickets to the 7/29 performance at Cyclorama can or should be reserved in advance? If so, how?

Leave a Comment