Showing posts with label A.B.L.E.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label A.B.L.E.. Show all posts

Thursday, March 28, 2024

A.B.L.E. presents "The Odyssey" at Chicago Shakespeare Theater One Night Only On May 11th, 2024

ChiIL Mama’s ChiIL Picks List: 

Set sail for an inclusive adventure 

with A.B.L.E. & Chicago Shakespeare Theater

A.B.L.E.’s Sunday ensemble clusters together for a silly group photo. This team will join forces with A.B.L.E.’s Monday ensemble to present The Odyssey. In total, 44 performers will take the stage on Saturday, May 11, 2024.

24 performers with Down syndrome 

and other intellectual and developmental disabilities 

re-imagine an epic classic for our modern times

Here at ChiIL Mama, we have several friends with Down syndrome who have been in productions with A.B.L.E.--Artists Breaking Limits & Expectations, for years. It's been a great experience for them, and their families are enthusiastic about the program. Come check out these creative kids who are absolutely ready and A.B.L.E. to bring you a re-imagining of the epic classic The Odyssey.

A.B.L.E., a Chicago-based nonprofit that creates theatre and film for, with, and by individuals with Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) partner up once again to ensuring everyone feels they have a space in the theatre. 

A.B.L.E.'s production weaves music, movement, shadow puppetry, and scenes devised by the group into a powerful and joyful celebration of the choices we make, and the challenges we face along our journey. The vibrant adaptation features a neurodiverse cast of 44 performers, including 24 actors with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The performance in the Courtyard Theater on May 11, 2024 at 2:00pm will mark the two companies’ 7th collaboration, most recently having co-produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream last spring.

Christian Boyd leans in close to the camera and raises his hands as if coming to grab the viewer. Christian will appear as one of the sirens. In A.B.L.E.’s version, these seductive songstresses will tempt Odysseus and crew with an original rap written by the cast. Photo by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux.

The theme of fate vs. agency is prevalent in Homer’s tale, and it’s one that co-directors Braden Cleary and Katie Yohe particularly wanted to highlight with the Ensembles. Currently, 24 actors with varying disabilities including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism take part in A.B.L.E.’s performance ensembles. “Folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities often have a lot of choices made for them, or it’s presumed that they are not capable of making their own choices,” says Yohe, also A.B.L.E.’s Executive Artistic Director. “Braden and I drafted a loose skeleton of the story but the script and production is really actor-led.” Each actor self-identified where their strengths lie as a performer, and were assigned to a chapter of the story based on their interests.

Actor Lucas Miezal holds a green sheet of paper as he shares ideas during a writing session. Actors developed original dialogue and movement pieces for their scenes. Photo by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux.

Over the course of a 10-week rehearsal process, actors collaborated with a team of volunteer facilitators to build the story. Facilitator Kara Davidson, a company member at Manual Cinema, helped actors design and build shadow puppets to bring to life monsters like the Cyclops and Scylla. Music Educator Polly Yukevich loaned the ensembles 15 ukuleles to bring musical magic to The Lotus Eaters and the seductive Sirens.

A.B.L.E. is committed to ensuring everyone feels they have a space in the theatre. The sensory-friendly performance will include numerous accessibility supports for audience members of all ages and ability levels. This includes dual ASL interpretation and open captioning. A.B.L.E. also reserves a designated movement zone for audience members who need to move around to help them focus. Audience members will receive a social story and sensory guide before the show to help audience members know what to expect from their trip to the theatre. “We hope we can set an example for our community of what true inclusion looks like both onstage and off.”


Saturday May 11, 2024 at 2:00pm

Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater

800 East Grand Avenue

Chicago, IL 60611

Co-director Katie Yohe introduces a jointed Cyclops shadow puppet to members of the ensemble. The Odyssey will feature shadow puppet monsters and settings with consultation from Manual Cinema company member, Kara Davidson. Photo by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux. 

Tickets: All tickets are Pay-what-you-can starting at $15, general admission


Phone: 312.595.5600

In person: at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater Box Office

Access: Performances will be open captioned and dual ASL interpreted. Out of consideration for our immunocompromised community members, masks are required in the theater.

This production of The Odyssey is sponsored by Gail and Dennis Rossow. A.B.L.E.’s 2023-2024 Season is partially supported by grants from The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, FunFund, The Illinois Arts Council, Innovation 80, The Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts.


A.B.L.E.—Artists Breaking Limits & Expectations - is celebrating their 8th anniversary of creating theatre and film for, with, and by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A.B.L.E. engages actors ages 13 and up through ensembles and outreach programming. Whether in person or online, all A.B.L.E. programs strive to foster agency, and nurture lifelong skills like communication, collaboration, and creativity. A.B.L.E.'s ensembles have produced more than 25 projects for the stage and screen, ranging from adaptations of theatrical classics by Shakespeare, Dickens, and Gilbert & Sullivan, to original work, to innovative Zoom projects including Romeo & Juliet Remix. A.B.L.E.’s feature films have been recognized by several local and international festivals. By placing people with disabilities in the spotlight, A.B.L.E.’s work strives to shift societal preconceptions, and build more inclusive, empathetic communities. For more information about A.B.L.E., please visit and find them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


Regional Tony Award-recipient Chicago Shakespeare Theater produces a bold and innovative year-round season—plays, musicals, world premieres, family productions, and theatrical presentations from around the globe—alongside nationally recognized education programming serving tens of thousands of students, teachers, and lifelong learners each year. Founded in 1986, the Theater’s onstage work has expanded to as many as twenty productions and 650 performances annually. Chicago Shakespeare is dedicated to welcoming the next generation of theatergoers; one in four of its audience members is under the age of eighteen. As a nonprofit organization, the Theater works to embrace diversity, prioritize inclusion, provide equitable opportunities, and offer an accessible experience for all. On the Theater’s three stages at its home on Navy Pier, in classrooms and neighborhoods across the city, and in venues around the world, Chicago Shakespeare is a multifaceted cultural hub—inviting audiences, artists, and community members to share powerful stories that connect and inspire.

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