by Gabby Banzon
Everybody loves the performing arts; participating in it, listening to it, watching it. It brings the audience feelings of joy, sorrow, and awe. It brings the performers senses of belonging, accomplishment, and autonomy. North Texas Performing Arts (NTPA) creates a space for this to happen every single day for families across the DFW metroplex. Youth and adults have the opportunity to learn about theatre and perform in plays and music productions.
NTPA also extends its space for those who don’t always get those same opportunities; through a therapeutic arts program called the Starcatchers. The Starcatchers is NTPA’s branch for youth and adults with cognitive disabilities. While the therapeutic arts are typically divided into music, dance, drama, and visual art, this program combines all of these mediums together to put on a variety of productions.
So, if the Starcatchers still put on shows, what makes it so different from the rest of the theatre? What makes it therapeutic?
Simple… It’s the process and the goals.
When you’re performing, the process is to rehearse and the goal is to perform a show. But to rehearse and perform takes individual skills that people with cognitive disabilities often struggle with. To rehearse and perform also requires an accepting community, which people with cognitive disabilities are not always readily welcomed into. So, then in our program, the processes are to rehearse and perform a show, and the goals are to increase those individual skills and develop community.
When we learn our lines, we read and speak; which develops cognitive, speech, and communication skills and memory recall. When we portray a character, we act and emulate them; which affords opportunities for emotional expression and empathy. When we do choreography, we coordinate our placements and move our bodies; which develops spatial awareness and gross and fine motor skills. When we sing and play instruments, we produce music in a group; which develops listening skills and attention span.
Last, but not least, by doing all of this with our friends and performance partners, we grow in community.
We break down the boundaries of disabilities, promote inclusivity, and give everyone a place to belong.
Interested in being part of our program as an actor or a performance partner? Check out www.starcatchers.org for more information