About The Penguin Project®

A group of youths, ages 10-21, in a program called The Penguin Project take to the stage to perform a modified version of a well-known Broadway musical. However, these productions are unique because all roles are filled by young artists with developmental disabilities including: Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, visual impairment, hearing impairment, and other neurological disorders.

They are joined on stage by a dedicated group of peer mentors—youths the same age without disabilities who have volunteered to work side-by-side with the artists through four months of rehearsals and to the final performance.

By providing access to community theatre, The Penguin Project demonstrates that the special challenges of a disability should not handicap a child’s ability to participate in life’s experiences.

Established in 2004, The Penguin Project has evolved into a national program with chapters throughout the United States. The program provides a supportive environment and has demonstrated that participation in the performing arts has therapeutic value by enhancing social interaction, communication skills, self-confidence, and self-esteem.

“As a community theatre, The Playhouse works to find a place for anyone who wants to be a part of theatre. The Penguin Project has given us the tools and training to provide a safe and inspiring theatre experience for young people who have special needs. We are so happy to host young artists and give them the chance to take to the stage. There is a place for everyone in the arts.” —Katy Merriman, Playhouse Artistic Director

2022 Penguin Project® Production at The Playhouse: Annie Jr.
Rehearsals: Begin June 26, 2022 
Performances: Oct. 14-16, 2022

Does this sound like something your student would like?

Join us for an informational meeting for parents, artists ages 10-21, and mentors ages 10-21:
Saturday, June 4, 2022, 1:00-2:30 PM, at The Playhouse 
Get all your questions answered! Parents will learn more, and artists and mentors will have an opportunity to test-run a day of Penguin Project rehearsal.

Questions? Contact Annie Mielke, BCBA, Program Coordinator, 515.974.5360, penguinproject@dmplayhouse.com

Testimonials and photos from Penguin Project participants in chapters across the country

“Parents have special dreams for their children… dreams about their happiness and their future. Thank you for giving my child the opportunity to make one of those dreams come true.”

“Thank you for this chance to be with other kids like me!”

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may, 2022

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