Encouraging people with learning disabilities to become performers

Performing as an actor is not an easy work for anyone. Hijinx, A charity based in Cardiff, offers special drama trainings for talented people with learning disabilities to encourage them to perform in front of audiences. These trainings give opportunities to learning disabled adults who can’t join traditional drama schools to perform as actors and dancers.

Through weekly sessions, those people are exposed to different activities and skills that help them develop their capabilities. the sessions are divided into physical and social workshops organized by Hijinx academy with the aim of improving their professional and life skills. The workshops include circus activities, vocal trainings, developing communication skills, dancing and performing. They are held two times a week and last for 6 hours.

Photo of the juggling     By: CNP

Drama training helps people with disabilities to develop their life skills:

Amy Griggs, the Hijinx academy director, said that these sessions are designed to help people with learning disabilities to live independently and develop their knowledge about various activities. “we help anyone with disability to discover himself and challenge all difficulties. These people can’t access the traditional drama trainings not because they can’t perform, but because they face many restrictions. They can do many activities the same as anyone else,” she said.

These activities started about 10 years ago when the coordinator of Hijinx went to Spain and worked for an association for dancing. “He found that this association works with some autistic and disabled people. He asked himself why do not we have something like that in the UK? so, we planned to establish the academy to provide learning disable performers the opportunity in our country,” Amy said.

Vocal exercises      By: CNP

Learning Disabled performers face audience:

The performers were introduced to the audience many times in some musical and drama shows all over Wales. Lindsay Foster, one of the performers, said she participated in many shows with Hijinx. “I was happy because people were clapping when we were dancing. I love to perform in front of many people.” she said. Andrew Tadd, a trainee in the academy, said that he enjoys the sessions that enable him to try new experiences. “I come to the sessions two time a week by bus with some help. I love all activities here. I love to perform,” he said.

The academy cooperates with many local associations and trainers to offer the trainees various skills. Rhian Halford, a circus trainer works for No Fit State, is one of those trainers who teaches disabled performers some physical activities. “circus is very important for all people, not only persons with disabilities. Through circus you can be mentally and physically challenged. So, it is very important to those people to build their confidence. It is a nice opportunity to everyone,” Rhian said.

People sitting down in a circle    By: CNP

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