Rockville, MD
Grant Cycle:
Type of Grant:
I/DD, Theater

Open Circle Theatre (OCT) produces high-quality, inventive theatre productions that provide opportunities for professional theatre artists with and without disabilities. Consequently, space is established in DC metro theatre community that: 1. Exposes work of artists/arts administrators with disabilities in integrated setting, celebrating innovative artistic aesthetic that can be generated by embracing these theatre professionals; 2. Creates environment that’s accessible to all-from the most mainstream theatre goer to those with auditory, visual or intellectual disabilities-and strives to provide an equivalent experience for every member of a diverse audience 3. Uses performing arts to make education and learning inclusive for all students and all types of learners 4. Mentors development of professional artists with disabilities. OCT is a beacon of diversity: a women and disabled-owned entity; staff and volunteers are all people with disabilities; events always include/welcome artists that have multiple cultures, races, sexual orientations, as well as disabled performers and artists from across the country.

OCT innovates by including all accessibility tools, using virtual options, creating needed network of artists with disabilities, reaching out to greater community; holding programming to celebrate core mission-promoting careers in arts for people with disabilities. OCT assures all programs/materials are accessible to all via ASL interpreting, closed captioning, Audio Description, physical access for audiences and artists alike. For some of our audience who can still not be at live events due to compromised immune systems and other reasons, during times where COVID risk still lingers, we host streaming and live virtual programming-such as The Grieving Project-directly targeting them.

OCT also uses virtual space to grow our “Hive” of both local and non-local artists with disabilities, following a request from local artists who attended/performed at our Open Doors Festival. Our classes, workshops, festival also expose skills and networking to artists with disabilities.

March 26, 2022 Open Circle Open Doors Workshops and networking event at the REACH at The Kennedy Center. 20 people with and without disabilities; all workshop leaders had disabilities.

August 20, 2022 Day-long Open Door Festival, including a performance on the Millennium Stage, Dance workshops, a panel, and a craft/arts market. Attended by over 100 people with and without disabilities; all workshops, performances, panelists, and visual artists had disabilities.

August 21, 2022 Formation of the Hive, a collective of exclusively disabled artists that meets monthly virtually to discuss topics and congregates in person to go to events. At the moment, includes 40 artists and growing daily.

September 21-30, 2022 Inclusive Arts Integration Professional Development Workshop Worked and in-school Residency with K and 1st-grade teachers and students at PG County’s French Immersion school – Maya Angelou.

September 24, 2022 Participated in theatreWashington’s Theatre Week culminating event at Arena Stage. Manned information booth; networked with other theaters/theater lovers.

December 6, 2022 Master Class on Professional Acting in Gaithersburg for Artstream, program based in drama therapy for people with intellectual disabilities. The class was seen as a bridging exercise for those participants who were interested in beginning to join community or professional theatre opportunities.

March 6-10, 2023 Week-long Office Hours Residency culminating with a reading of and new play centering on mental illness by a disabled playwright and featuring 50% artists with disabilities.

March 16, 2023 Hosted free tickets to The Kennedy Center’s production of Into the Woods with a networking event after. Of 88 people attending, 15% were persons with disabilities, 15% community leaders, patrons, donors, 50% Howard University theater students.