Adam Tepper of Gaithersburg is playing the role of Sargent Diego in ArtStream's Production of "That 60's Play."
Tepper fashioned the role himself. He had been learning some Spanish at his day job in a flower shop in Silver Spring and decided to incorporate it into the play with the help of director Nicolette Stearns and several of his mentors.
According to his mother, Cindy Tepper, Adam got involved with ArtStream in 2006 when Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland cut off services to adults. Her son and many others had to find an alternate expressive arts program in the Washington, DC - area. Adam, who is currently 23, attended a special needs school in Rockville until two years ago. He has two day jobs - one as a volunteer in a nursing home and another as an assistant to a wholesale florist. He revels in acting, and it has become his passion.
"I love being on stage in costume," he said. "In my role as Sargent Diego, I get to march and sing too."
"Being involved in ArtStream's arts program has really boosted his self-confidence," said Cindy Tepper. "The director incoporates the ideas and personalities of the students into the script. This makes them feel comfortable with what they are doing on stage too."
According to Cindy Tepper, ArtStream has provided a great learning experience for Adam. He interacts with fellow students and also with mentors who do not have special needs. Being in an inclusive acting community is valuable to both the student actors and their more typical peers, she said.
ArtStream provides a comprehensive program for its students. Adam Tepper has been in rehearsals for "That 60's Play" since January of 2011. From September - December of 2010, he and the other students in his class worked on a variety of general acting techniques, which they would later apply to the production of "That 60's Play." The group received the actual script in late winter/early spring once Stearns finished including suggestions from the actors on how to develop the original manuscript.
"'That 60's Play' harkens back to the time of Woodstock recalling both the artistic freedom and emphasis on personal connections of that time. In the tiny town of the Kinkapark NY, a controlling mayor ignores the many changes that are taking place in the world around him. At the town's annual Harvest Parade a number of out-of-towners turn up and challenge the status quo. Among them are a troupe of clowns and mimes, a group of hippies so earthy they are called the Weathergirls, and some famous models called the Shutterflies. They all want to be part of the parade, and the mayor isn't cooperative. 'That 60's Play' could be seen as a metaphor for the civil rights movement, and it's also a lot of fun. The mayor, the townsfolk and the artists resolve their differences and everyone benefits from listening to each other and expanding their views," said Kathleen Holmay of ArtStream.
"Preparing for 'That 60's Play,' the staff and cast members talked about the 60's -- the music, social movements and political turmoil," further explained Holmay.
"Consistent with ArtStream's message of inclusiveness and bringing the power of creativity to people with a variety of disabilities, the play is about being a free spirit and letting your heart soar," says Director Nicolette Stearns.
ArtStream productions are originals, with the cast, staff, mentors and directors creating the story, the music, the dances. Original music for "That 60's Play" has been created by Dan Villar, and Julie Bain has choreographed the dances.
The ArtStream production of "That 60's Play" is coordinated through the Gaithersburg Inclusive Theatre Company and will take place at the Asbury Methodist Village's Rosborough Theatre space. Showtimes are Friday, June 17 and June 24 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 18 and June 25 at 2:30 p.m. There is also a performance on Sunday, June 26 at 2:30 p.m.
A second play, a spaghetti western, "The Good, The Bad, and The Money" accompanies ArtStream's showing of "That 60's Play." Tickets buy seats to both productions.
ArtStream is a regional organization headquartered in Washington, DC. It is committed to providing expressive opportunities to individuals with disabilities, the elderly, veterans and people with long-term illnesses through the visual and performing arts.
"Adam just glows when he is on stage," said Cindy Tepper. "The confidence and inspiration he receives from participating in ArtStream's plays traslates directly to his everyday life. The more friends he knows he has in the audience, the more he will try to impress through his performance."
To purchase tickets to the event, click here.
To learn more about ArtStream, click here.
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