CO/LAB Theater Group is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing Creative Opportunities without Limits And Boundaries, offering individuals with developmental disabilities a creative and social outlet through theater arts. Since our inception, we have created a true community and navigated carefully planned growth, expanding from one pilot class serving 13 people to a full schedule of seven on-site classes and numerous off-site workshops in partnership with organizations such as AHRC, Heartshare, YAI and the JCC of Manhattan. As NYC's primary theater arts organization for individuals with developmental disabilities, we serve 200 individuals annually through our programming.
CO/LAB operates two core programs: our on-site Acting & Musical Theater Ensemble classes, and off-site residences and workshops. CO/LAB’s on-site classes and performances train actors in fundamental acting techniques, helping them develop self-confidence and self-awareness, practice essential social skills, play with their individual voices, and work together as an ensemble. Each series of classes culminates in a public performance based around the semester’s theme. Classes are limited to 14 people and are led by two CO/LAB Teaching Artists and volunteer Supporting Artists, resulting in an impressive and inclusive 2:1 participant/support ratio, which enables strong peer-to-peer relationships between the participants and the supporting team.
Most notably, we have made a conscious choice to call our program participants “actors” because we believe in the importance of treating them like equals and with respect. We rehearse in professional studios and perform in professional venues, and in doing so we send a message to the rest of the world that our actors have art to share. Blurring the line between “ability” and “disability,” CO/LAB removes the limits of what individuals with developmental disabilities can achieve artistically and in their everyday lives.
Funded by Awesome Without Borders (May 2016)