singing quartet-smallChichester College joined forces with Rolls Royce last Thursday to launch its pioneering educational project to a packed audience at Chichester Festival Theatre.

The new performing arts training programme, called Theatre Inc., has been designed to offer education and a supported work placement for young performers who live with a range of learning disabilities.

The evening on February 26th included Theatre Inc.’s debut performance, a display of dance, drama and song that was met with overwhelming praise, support and a standing ovation.

Sarah Gordy from Lewes, a professional actor and dancer, who lives with Downs Syndrome herself said:

“It was great to see the confident performance. So pleased to see young performers getting the training they need”

The ten-strong company of performers live with conditions such as Down syndrome, autism and Asperger syndrome.

Company member Ryan Wright-King, 21, who has Asperger syndrome said:

“What we’re doing has a lot of meaning to us. It’s a way of changing people’s views about us and breaking down some barriers.”

Theatre Inc. provides vocational performing arts training that is tailor made for students with learning disabilities, as well as developing their numeracy, literacy, ICT, communication and general life-skills.

Following the success of its launch, Theatre Inc. will undertake a tour of work and a regional outreach programme before celebrating a full evening of work for the public at the University of Chichester on 25th June.

The project is the first of its kind to receive recognition from the Government’s Educational Funding Agency. But there remains a financial shortfall which the company aims to address through its Friends of Theatre Inc. scheme.