Exploring History through Drama at Friends School

Theatre-Driven History Programs for Special Needs Students

Supported by Funding from The WHAS Crusade for Children

Commonwealth Theatre Center received a grant from The WHAS Crusade for Children for the 2018/19 school year in the amount of $5,000 to support programs benefiting young people at Louisville schools that specialize in the education of children with special needs.

The aim of these programs is to develop interpersonal skills, grow confidence and competence working in groups, and improve the ability to think abstractly among students currently enrolled in specialized programs. CTC’s expertise working with special needs youth includes previous programming in 2016-17 and 2017-18 with Summit Academy in Middletown that spanned pre-K through high school grade levels.

The first of the programs funded by The WHAS Crusade for Children recently concluded at Friends School, a family cooperative school whose mission is to provide experiential, noncompetitive, child-centered educational opportunities where individual differences are respected and celebrated, and where children with special needs and abilities are welcomed.

CTC brought a 15-week “Exploring History through Drama” program for 5th through 8th graders at the school. In the residency, CTC teaching artists began by introducing students to theatre fundamentals like the actor’s toolkit—body, voice, imagination, and courage—along with concepts like tableaux and pantomime. With those tools, students were able to access the historical curriculum from a new perspective. In the sharing exercise at the residency’s culmination, students enacted scenes from modern American history for their classmates, covering some major historical and news events and addressing the cultural contexts embedded in them.

The grant from The WHAS Crusade for Children is also supporting programs in spring 2019 at the Binet School, part of Jefferson County Public Schools, which serves students with special needs.

Commonwealth Theatre Center serves 50,000+ youth and adults each year in a range of programs through Blue Apple Outreach and the Walden Theatre Conservatory. Blue Apple Outreach programs include touring productions as well as workshops and residency programs that enrich curricula in early childhood literacy, plus math, science, and history for Pre-K through grade 12. Walden Theatre Conservatory provides world-class theatre programs in acting, playwriting, and more, and the company stages a highly regarded season of classic and contemporary plays featuring emerging Conservatory talent alongside professionals.

The WHAS Crusade for Children makes life better for children with special needs by inspiring generosity with our community partners. Established in 1954 by WHAS-TV, the organization raises money for agencies, schools and hospitals to make life better for children with special needs. Since 1954, the Crusade has raised more than $173 million, giving critical assistance to an estimated three million children in 120 Kentucky and 50 Southern Indiana counties. The money donated in Kentucky stays in Kentucky and, likewise, money donated in Indiana stays in Indiana. No money is sent to any other national charity or organization. The Crusade returns 100% of each donation to agencies that directly improve the lives of children with special needs.