The Imagination Stage Pegasus Ensemble for Students with Cognitive and Development Disabilities Opens Pandora’s Box March 1-3

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Many of the children in the Pegasus Ensemble aren’t given the opportunity to participate in the performing arts, let alone star in a professionally-produced show. This spring, the graduating class of the Pegasus Ensemble at Imagination Stage—a teen actor training program with students with cognitive and/or development disabilities— will take on an original script, Pandora’s Box.

Pandora’s Box runs in Imagination Stage’s Christopher and Dana Reeve Studio Theatre March 1-2, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. and March 3 at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person, and may be purchased online at www.imaginationstage.org, at the Imagination Stage box office, or via phone at 301‐280‐1660.

The concept behind Pandora’s Box mirrors the path of many of the students participating in the ensemble. The story follows a teenager who is struggling to find her place within the precarious world of high school. The evils of bullies and teasing have left her with almost no hope at all that she could find the strength to stand up for herself.  But an ancient box opens up possibilities she never could have imagined. Playwright Nikki Kaplan, also Imagination Stage Associate Director of Education, discusses her process in writing this original version of an ancient tale: “We wanted to give the students the experience of playing realistic characters.  This version of Pandora’s Box marries two styles – the life style of contemporary teenagers and the fantastical elements of a Greek myth.”

The uniqueness of the Pegasus Ensemble attracts students from all across the Maryland and DC regions including Bethesda, Rockville, Takoma Park, Chevy Chase, Germantown, and Washington, DC. Diane Nutting, Director of Access and Inclusion at Imagination Stage as well as co-director of Pandora’s Box, has been working with this group of students since they were accepted into the program in fall 2011. “It has not only been wonderful to see these young people develop as artists, but also incredibly exciting to watch them develop as individuals as they push past traditional expectations or self-determined limits.”

The Pegasus Ensemble is a two-year commitment providing a rich opportunity to further develop theatre arts technique, culminating in a fully-realized production at the end of their final semester.  Acceptance to the ensemble is through audition and interview only. According to Nutting, “Our goal is to take a ‘holistic approach’ to the theatre art-making process, in order for students to understand the wide range of opportunities that exist in the field of theatre.”

Directed by Nutting and Jess Jung—a professional theatre artist and educator in DC—Pandora’s Box is supported by an entire team of professional designers including Danielle Harris (Set Design), Zac Gilbert (Lighting Design), and Chelsey Schuller (Costume Design).

The objective of the program is to foster and advance the theatre arts training of the participating students, while providing a safe environment—free of judgement—where these students can shine. Imagination Stage is committed to providing performing arts education to children of all abilities. The Pegasus Ensemble exemplifies this mission. Co-director Jessica Jung fondly looks upon her experience: “Working with the Pegasus Ensemble was inspirational as a theatre artist and educator.  These teens have an endless amount of spirit, passion, and positivity.”

Imagination Stage
Located at: 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, MD
Parking: Metered parking in the adjacent public parking garage; parking is FREE on weekends
Metro: Red Line / Bethesda Station
For Information: 301-280-1660 or www.imaginationstage.org

About Imagination Stage: Imagination Stage is the largest and most respected multi-disciplinary theatre arts organization for young people in the Mid-Atlantic region, offering a year-round season of professional shows (adult actors performing for families and classes), after-school programs and summer camps for ages 1-18, and arts-integration professional development training for teachers, students, schools and families. All of our programs are informed by our core belief in making the arts inclusive and accessible to all children, regardless of their physical, cognitive or financial status.

About Access & Inclusion at Imagination Stage: At Imagination Stage: Everybody Plays! Access at Imagination Stage endeavours to create an inclusive and welcoming environment and equitable access to all artistic and educational programming for students, staff, and visitors of all abilities. The Access & Inclusion department offers 5-10 classes each semester in a peer-group environment (classes specifically designed for children with cognitive and/or developmental disabilities) at the Imagination Stage home base in Bethesda, as well as supporting more than 60 children in an inclusive experience, and offering on-site residency programs in several schools around the DC metro area.


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