On April 27, Kingsley Middle School's Life Skills class performed a play with the OpenSpot Theatre company.
OpenSpot's mission is to promote theater for all ages and abilities. The Michigan nonprofit started in Metro Detroit and their Kingsley performance was the organization's first in Northern Michigan.
Instructors Shelby Eppich and Jane Kittendorf wrote the play especially for the students in Mrs. Sarah DeMoulpied's Life Skills class and they worked with the students for six weeks leading up to the show.
"OpenSpot promotes theatre for all, so something that my students wouldn't normally have the chance to participate in, they got to do," said Mrs. DeMoulpied. "We worked on basic acting skills, lots of social skills such as being brave and doing things that we don't normally do and trying new things."
"They just blossomed. We had some students that were like 'um, no thank you' the first day, and they ended up being one of the best actors in the play, so we're super proud. I look forward to doing another one soon!"
Each student in the show got to pick their own character. The play included Perry the Platapus, Spongebob, Batman, and other familiar faces.
"The performance went amazing. The kids picked their own characters and you can really see their personality shine through that way. It is a theater class but it's also a social skills class and they're learning how to be more confident in themselves," said OpenSpot instructor's aide Jane Kittendorf."
Lead Instructor Shelby Eppich says she was blown away by the students' willingness to learn and abilities to absorb the material so quickly.
"The kids pushed my limits every day in the way of learning new things. You give the time and dedication to this kind of art form and everyone can succeed!" she said. "We want to see them grow and become a different person. We want to spread awareness that accessibility is so needed in this type of artform and the world in general."
To learn more about OpenSpot Theatre, visit https://openspottheatre.com/.