The Des Moines Community Playhouse is pleased to announce its participation in The Penguin Project. The Penguin Project is a national program that empowers children with special needs through theatre. The Playhouse will hold an informational meeting for interested students and parents on May 14, 2020. Rehearsals beginning June 11, 2020, will culminate in public performances of Annie Jr. Oct. 9-11, 2020.
The Penguin Project is a national non-profit organization creating opportunities for young artists with special needs to participate in community theatre and share their creative talents. The casts of the productions are youths with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, learning disabilities, and other neurological and developmental disorders. These artists are partnered with peer mentors, a group of youths who volunteer to work with the artists side-by-side through rehearsals and on stage.
David Kilpatrick, executive director of The Playhouse, said, “We see The Penguin Project of The Playhouse as a natural expansion of our programming. A significant goal with our recently completed building renovation was accessibility for all. As a community theatre, The Playhouse must serve the whole community of students, audiences, and volunteers both on our stages and as backstage volunteers.”
The Penguin Project was established in 2004 in Peoria, IL, by Dr. Andrew Morgan, a medical specialist involved in the diagnosis and treatment of children with disabilities. The Playhouse is the first chapter in Iowa and the thirty-fourth of 38 chapters in the United States. The name comes from the unique characteristics of penguins: They are playful, curious, work well together, and have a “disability” that distinguishes them from other birds in that they can’t fly. Like the young artists in The Penguin Project, penguins have adapted to the challenges of their environment and refuse to allow those differences to interfere with their enjoyment or quality of life.