Weekend Rehearsal for A Fesitval of Shorts

Our cast got together this past weekend over lunch to discuss their characters, go over lines, cues, and scenes. We ‘ve been encouraging improvisation in the earlier rehearsals because we saw how creative and, well–FUN–this cast is.

We will be opening A Festival of Shorts on Friday April 5th at The Foundry on Northampton Street in Buffalo, at 7:30 pm. Saturday we will be at Hallwalls (at Babeville) on Delaware Avenue at 7:30 pm. Each of these venues is unique and we look forward to performing in each. We will be posting our venue for Sunday April 7th (2pm) shortly. Watch this space!

For ticket information, email us at

Here are photos from this past weekend:

Our fabulous cast discusses a scene over pizza.

You are Light Get Lit. Stay Lit. Bring it.

As we approach the holidays I’ve been thinking a lot about the similarities in the way different spiritual traditions celebrate with themes of light. More than at any other time of the year, it is in this season of shortening days, when  darkness prevails and seems to have won that people celebrate Light. Perhaps that’s because we take anything  for granted when it’s abundant. Our appreciation for something seems only to come as we realize we’ve almost lost it.

So many people suffer with depression at this time of year; a darkness of the soul ensues and with it the ancient fear that all is as it always will be. In darkness our imagination–and our fears–grow. Be without light long enough and it’s hard to remember the feeling of safety it brings. It becomes easy to lose our optimism and give ourselves over to the night and its insecurities. No wonder in December we seek to beckon Light’s return. To light a candle in the darkness is to invite the spirit of hope back into our consciousness. 

Maybe that’s why so many religions and spiritual traditions engage in celebrations of Light. Hanukkah commemorates the victory by the Jews over a tyrant king and the miracle of a small quantity of oil to light the Temple’s menorah miraculously lasting eight days. The 13th of November is huge  celebration of light, Diwali, celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, is a festival of triumph of good over evil celebrated with light displays, food and fireworks.. It’s a beautiful and colorful celebration. It is not surprising then that Kwanzaa, which celebrates African heritage in African-American culture, also is a celebration of light.  In addition to a feast and gift giving. seven candles are lit to symbolize the seven core principles of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is celebrated very near Christmas.

Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth,  is not in sync with the historical birth of Jesus, but occurs just after the longest night of the year, as the earth slowly tilts once again towards the sun.  I wonder if, back in ancient times, the darkness seemed to be winning when Jesus entered the picture.  Things were fairly dire in the outposts of the Roman Empire, especially if you were ill or not well off materially; there was poverty and disease, and an Empire not too interested in anything besides tax collecting.  For Christians, Jesus is “the Light of the World” that overcame the darkness. Perhaps that is one reason the celebration was moved from Spring to December, just after the winter Solstice.

Time and time again, candles are lit in celebration, commemoration, worship to give us hope and remind us that darkness always gives way to light. The thing is, you have to keep moving, keep bringing light, no matter how dark the night seems, or for how long.

 Just as darkness enveloped the Empire, so night envelops us as we wait for the Solstice, which occurs just before we celebrate Christmas. We string small lights onto our homes and trees and sing songs of Peace and Joy. Light once again has overcome the dark. It did back then. It will again. 

You will bring it.

For Aimee Levesque and me, Inclusive Theater of WNY is our candle in the darkness. It is the Light we offer to all those who wander in the darkness of exclusion, depression, judgement, fear, harassment, and hopelessness. Through our own difficult experiences we haven’t just come to believe–we KNOW–that to exclude anyone on the basis of something they cannot change (something core to their being) is to foist darkness upon the person, and the world. The world because we believe that each individual brings his/her own light and our calling is to help others to grow their own light and to share it. To extinguish the light of another is ultimate evil. Whether by shaming, blaming, ostracizing, or other means, it is soul murder not to acknowledge, validate and value the unique soul in every single person.

Performances · Plays

Audiences Love “And Where Will You Put the Things You Save?” –at Alleyway Theatre on Main Street in Buffalo Through October 28

Inclusive Theater of WNY opened its inaugural play on Thursday, October 11 and held a well attended gala before the play on Saturday, October 13th.

The play, “And Where Will You Put the Things You Save?” was written by Baroness von Smith, a WNY playwright and directed by Virginia Brannon. The talented cast includes veteran WNY actors Steve Brachmann, Jessica Levesque and John Profeta (just off his powerhouse performance in Farenheit 451 at Subversive Theatre).

Audiences have been enthusiastic and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback about the play, the chemistry between the actors, and the subject matter. Read the review by Cherie Messore of Buffalo Theater Guide hereThe play runs through October 28th at Alleyway Theatre. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 2pm.  You can purchase tickets here.

Cast and Crew of “And Where Will You Put the Things You Save?”



Help Inclusive Theater Grow!


A young man with Autism, a recently graduated journalism major, a 30 something year old musician and a young man with Cerebral Palsey walked into an Improv class–and surprised themselves and everyone else–with their previously undiscovered talent for improvisational comedy. A writing group started up in the winter of 2015 with five members–two “neuro-typical women, two people with Autism and one woman with Cerebral Palsey. Two years later the group is going strong: wome weeks more than 10 people are present, and this year, 2017, three regular members’ works will be published. two of these members are people with disabilities

Inclusive Theater of Western New York was begun by people whose children have experienced bullying, harrassment, and social isolation by their typical peers. The cumulative results of these experiences have led in many cases to low self esteem, PTSD, anxiety, and continued social isolation into adulthood.

Inclusive Theater of Western New York addresses the need for inclusion of men and women with disabilities who have lacked opportunities throughout their school careers. We accomplish this by providing acting classes and a writing group in an emotionally safe environment that is condusive to experimentation, free of judgement, harrassement and bullying, and one that reflects the population as a whole. As such, all our classes have a mix of people with different ethnic, religious and socio-economic and disability making up the whole.

For the people who have been attending our programs and classes, new worlds have opened up. One woman who has a developmental disability commented after a Saturday workshop in which the group made sets, wrote and acted in a play: “I never thought I could do anything like this!” Another participant, a professional actor who attended one of our acting classes commented, “I never knew what people who depend on wheelchairs went through”.

In big and small ways, Inclusive Theater of WNY is changing minds and perceptions, of people with disabilities, and people from different educational, social and economic backgrounds. Studies have shown that “inclusion” beneftis everyone.* We are seeing this firsthand in increased awareness, esteem and understanding on the part of all the people we serve.

Please consider making a contribution so we can continue to make a difference in the lives of the people of Buffalo—and beyond!

For information on how to make a donation please call Aimée Levesque, Executive Director, 716-218-8129



*Chandler-Olcott, K. and Kluth, P. (2009), Why Everyone Benefits From Including Students With Autism in Literacy Classrooms. The Reading Teacher, 62: 548–557. doi: 10.1598/RT.62.7.1
Publication History
Issue online: 9 NOV 2011
Version of Record online: 9 NOV 2011

The Promise of Inclusive Schooling
Moore, C. J. (1997). Educating students with disabilities in general education classrooms: A summary of the research. Juneau: Alaska Department of Education.
Zemelman, F., Danielson, H., and Hyde, A. (1993). Best practice: New standards for teaching and learning in America’s schools. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.