Flat Rock Playhouse offers summer camp for children with autism

Press release from Flat Rock Playhouse:

Flat Rock, NC (April 28, 2016) – Flat Rock Playhouse Studio 52 announced today a partnership with St. Gerard House, a local non-profit organization offering evidence-based treatment for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other behavioral needs.  A two-week long summer camp with an emphasis on creative dramatics, theatre games, visual arts, film and music will be offered from July 25th through August 5th at the Studio 52 Educational Building located at 1855 Little River Road in Flat Rock.

The camp is geared for children with autism and other developmental disabilities ages 8 to 12 years old. Approximately 10 students will be selected to participate for summer 2016 thereby ensuring maximum individual attention.

The camps will be taught by Flat Rock Playhouse Studio 52 Artistic Associate Dave Hart, and Studio 52 Lead Teaching Artist Olivia Palmer, after completing a training provided by the staff of St. Gerard House this summer. Hannah Roy, MS, BCBA will serve as the Studio 52 Program Coordinator representing St. Gerard House.

“Since its inception in 1952, Flat Rock Playhouse has always maintained a dual mission of producing, as well as providing education in the performing arts,” FRP Artistic Director Lisa K. Bryant stated today.  “Statistics report that 1 in 58 North Carolinians are diagnosed with Autism.  It is our privilege to be working with the experts at St. Gerard House.  Together we look forward to providing arts education to children with ASD and other behavioral health needs.  The summer camp is our maiden voyage in the development of such programming—but one of what hopes to be many more to come as we learn how best to serve this exceptional population.”

“St. Gerard House is honored to have the chance to collaborate with the Flat Rock Playhouse!” says Rachael Cushing Cook, M.A., BCBA, LPA, Clinical Director of St. Gerard House & Grotto School. “Our goal is to provide a supportive, engaging and dynamic environment that will allow participants to practice and perform vital social skills. We all agree that this is going to be an excellent opportunity for local children with autism, and other related diagnoses, to be able to express themselves, and share their talents with our community. Theatre is fun, motivating and highly structured. That’s a perfect mix for teaching new skills and promoting socialization!”

Classes are scheduled from 1:00 to 4:00 PM Monday through Friday with a sharing of the students’ work that will be open to friends, family and general public on August 5th at 2:00 PM. The tuition cost is $500 for the two-week camp; full or partial scholarships will be available.  Applications and more information can be found on both www.StGerardHouse.org and www.FRPStudio52.org.



In 1937, a group of struggling performers, led by Robroy Farquhar, organized themselves as the Vagabond Players. The Vagabonds worked in a variety of places over the course of three years, and in 1940 found themselves in the Blue Ridge region of Western North Carolina. The local and tourist community welcomed them with open arms when they presented their first summer season of plays in a 150-year-old grist mill they converted into The Old Mill Playhouse at Highland Lake. So successful was that summer, they returned in 1941. After WWII, the Vagabond Players reorganized, came back to the region and opened a playhouse in nearby Lake Summit. The Lake Summit Playhouse thrived during the post war years and soon the Vagabond Players were looking for a larger and permanent home. In 1952, the troupe of performers, and a newly formed board of directors, made an offer to buy an 8-acre lot in the Village of Flat Rock. This new home made the Vagabonds “locals” and a rented big top gave birth to Flat Rock Playhouse. As the beautiful Western Carolina region continued to grow, so did the Playhouse and in 1961, by Act of the North Carolina General Assembly, Flat Rock Playhouse was officially designated The State Theatre of North Carolina. What began as a few weeks of summer performances in 1940 is now a nine-month season of plays including Broadway musicals, comedy, drama, and theatre for young audiences. The Playhouse’s dual mission of producing the performing arts and providing education in the performing arts includes a professional series; a summer and fall college apprentice and intern program; and Studio 52, year-round classes and workshops for students from kindergarten through adults. Flat Rock Playhouse now hosts over 98,000 patrons annually and is a significant contributor to the local economy and the Arts in North Carolina. To learn more, visit www.flatrockplayhouseorg or call 828-693-0731.



St. Gerard House is a non-profit organization in Hendersonville, North Carolina offering evidence-based treatment for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other behavioral health needs. St. Gerard House provides services and support for individuals of all ages as well as programs for family members, guardians, caregivers, teachers, and others involved with care of the individual. Our services are available to individuals, families, and professionals in Western North Carolina.

About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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