LANSING, Mich. — Back in 2012, friends Annie Klark and Katie Mann said they had one goal when they first opened the OpenSpot Theatre in Detroit. That goal was to teach people the art of theater in an inclusive environment.
“So we teach all of our singing dancing and acting,” Annie Klark said. “We wanted to make sure we meet every student at their success and so we created programs to do that allow every student to perform.”
Typically Open Spot works with 2,000 students in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Lansing each year and puts on around 80 performances.
The theatre has a staff that is equipped to work with students with disabilities.
“Half of them are trained in the world of special education and half are trained in theatre and in each class there are two instructors and they put their skills together to teach the class,” Mann.
“We decided to give it a try before the pandemic and Dominic loves it,” Cathy Blatnik said.
Dominic Blatnik, a 17-year from Okemos who has autism, ADHD, anxiety, and epilepsy, took advantage of the course at Open Spot. His mom Cathy said it was a good experience for him.
“Typically kids like Dominic don’t get a chance and this gives those kids who don’t learn the same this opportunity and what’s nice is the classes are for people of all ages,” Cathy said.
The classes are available to everyone and there is a suggested price for each class, but Annie and Katie just wants to make the experience as beneficial as possible for everyone.
“Annie and I are so blessed that this is our profession and we love what we do that we can spread love through theatre, not only for students but to their families and that is so rewarding,” Mann said.