Special needs people are not just special; they can do special things too. If you were one among those privileged few who watched an adaptation of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream staged last week ...

By Anjana Sankar (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Sun 15 May 2005, 12:02 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:21 PM

at the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, you would be convinced beyond doubt.

Taking the centrestage during the one-hour play were actors and technicians with all sorts of disabilities including Down's Syndrome and Autism. The Scottish Theatre Group called 'Out of Darkness Theatre' that specialises in theatrical productions meant for people with disabilities has won overwhelming response for their skilful integration of people with and without special needs. The group has staged several performances in the UAE like the one in Crowne Plaza Hotel, Rashid Pediatric centre, Dubai Ladies Club, American School, Dubai Centre for Special Needs etc. 'Out of Darkness' is a 14-member team comprising of eight special needs people and four professional artists.

"Actually they are all thorough professionals, trained and accomplished theatre artists and technicians who can stage a production despite their disabilities," says Tina McGeever, the Artistic Director of the troupe. "We train, conduct workshops and stage shows integrating special needs people with other professionals. And the most important part of it is that all the artists work on an equal basis," added Tina who has visited UAE on several occasions for the same purpose. According to her, art is one way of social inclusion for people with disabilities; a means of developing interpersonnel skills and a strong communication tool. "These people might have a disability in some area but they will have the ability to excel in some others that we normally neglect. The basic idea is to identify their talent, work with them from an early stage and help them develop skills," On the challenges of training special needs people, Tina remarked that the usual method of distributing the script will not work in this case. "We have to look at developing performances in a different way. First we have to get them to understand the plot, study the characters. Then we start bit by bit on facial expressions, movement training and voice modulation," she explained.

'Out of The Darkness Theatre' claims that more than 500 students in the UAE have benefitted from its workshops and plays that also incorporates students from different UAE schools for special needs children. Denise Humberstone from All 4 Down's Syndrome that has brought the theatrical group down to UAE said that the basic purpose of staging the production was to raise awareness about the need to integrate children with dissabilities into the social mainstream. "It is also to tell parents and families with special needs children that they are wonderful and can do wonderful feats if given an opportunity," underlined Denise.

Drawing inspiration from 'Out of the Darkness Theatre, the kids of Future Centre is staging 'The Homecoming', a story of friendship, faith and patriotism on May 17 at the Cultural Foundation Auditorium to mark its third annual School Musical.

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