Denver has seen the birth of several theater companies that serve and include disabled members of our community. Building on the success of their programs, these companies have witnessed a wonderful outgrowth of their efforts. Many mainstream theaters now offer improved accessibility in theater venues for mobility-impaired patrons, descriptive audio devices for patrons with vision impairments, enhanced audio devices for patrons who are hard of hearing, shadowed theater performances for the deaf, and sensory-sensitive performances for those who may experience hyper-sensitivity, such as some people with autism.
The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities has provided shadowed theater performances for many years where actors trained in American Sign Language (ASL) perform alongside an actor on stage following their movements (as their “shadows”) and who convey the emotions of the character as well, giving the hearing-impaired audience member the opportunity to have the same theater experience as that of other patrons.
There are also theater companies that actively invite members of the disabled community to perform in their productions. These companies include: PHAMALY Theatre Company (founded in 1989), Magic Moments, Inc.(founded in 1984), and in more recent years the CenterStage’s Tapestry Theatre Company, an “all-abilities” company, which has its home in Louisville.