Awareness Theater Company
The Awareness Theater Company (ATC) is a dynamic theatrical group composed of people with and without disabilities. We’re, proudly, not “neurotypical”! The ATC is committed to creating original theater that highlights the strengths and experiences of people with developmental disabilities. Our company embraces the paradox that every member shines and yet no one is “the star.” We’re known throughout Vermont for our lively humor, bright sets featuring artwork by the performers, and spirited live music and dance.
“The Awareness Theater shows are the best in town because they don’t just entertain you, they lift your spirit.” Rusty DeWees, actor.
We created the "Living the Good Life in Vermont" film for the Vermont Center For Crime Victim Services for their New Neighbors Victim Outreach Project. The project’s goal is to inform Vermont’s refugees and immigrants about their rights if they become victims of crime and the services that are available for them here in Vermont. The video is also available in Arabic, Bosnian, Burmese, French, Maay Maay, Nepali, Russian, Swahili and Vietnamese. We hope you enjoy it!
Find more videos of our performances on blip.tv.
A Short History
The Awareness Theater Company came into existence in 1998 when Vermont Protection and Advocacy asked our director, Emily Anderson, to develop a theater company which would create a theatrical piece about the high incidence of abuse that people with developmental disabilities face in our society. As a company of 7, we created Speaking For Ourselves, an upbeat, informative piece about 6 kinds of abuse that people commonly experience. After touring the show to conferences, social service agencies and high schools for two years, the grant money ended but our desire to create and perform theater didn’t.
A video project with the State of Vermont kept us funded for another year. During this time we created two informational videos for people with developmental disabilities about the process for making appeals and filing complaints with their service provider agencies. During this time, we also revived an old show some of us created in a VSA Arts of Vermont Theater class called The Pigs of Oz. In addition, the company members started to create their own solo pieces. We ended that year with an extravaganza celebrating our continued existence with two public performances in Burlington’s FlynnSpace Theater. Our program included our entire repertoire. An outdoor pre-show event included a stilter, bagpipes and the Northeast Kingdom band, Irresistible Predator, performing the newly created I’ll Fly Away with our company. Vermont movie star and stage actor Rusty DeWees joined our indoor performance as “The Tin Man” and created an improvisation with the company that advertised our newly made Awareness Theater Company T-Shirts.
In 2002 our theater company became a part of VSA Vermont. This move happened because Emily became a full time employee of VSA Vermont as the director of Theatrical Programming. Our first project that year was to create a video for Green Mountain Self Advocates illustrating the Bill of Rights they had created for people with developmental disabilities.
Since then we have continued to create small and large pieces. While we are often working on commissioned shows connected to the themes related to disability issues, we maintain time in which to focus on the creation of individual and group works inspired by the lives and imaginations of the company members. Emily is now the Director of Creative Performance and Cultural Access.