‘The Power of ArtStream’ by David Friscic

“Art is for Everybody” and this dictum is exemplified superbly by ArtStream, now in its’ 7th year as a 501(c) non-profit. This dynamic and innovative non-profit group has been making a profound impact throughout various hospitals, schools and theaters in Arlington, Virginia, Fairfax, Virginia, Gaithersburg, MD, Silver Spring, MD, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

Lights, Camera, Chaos cast. Photo courtesy of ArtStream.

‘Lights, Camera, Chaos’ cast. Photo courtesy of ArtStream.

I had the privilege of recently attending the hilarious and wacky double-bill of backstage, show-biz comedy that the Arlington Inclusive Theatre Company has winningly developed at the Gunston Arts Center from improvisations that finally gel into a final clean ensemble piece. Offering developmentally challenged individuals, the adventure and discovery  of the intertwining of dance, music, and humor in the two one-acts, The Final Showdown and Lights, Camera, Chaos, certainly made for an entertaining and hilarious evening. The Final Showdown is a delightful spoof of being onstage and backstage at a reality show competition. Director John Newman keeps the cast moving along at a frenetic pace and this group of individuals challenged by disabilities or life circumstances are energizing and moving in their zeal to capture their characters.

This lively troupe really takes off in the skit entitled Lights,Camera, Chaos which takes place in the present day of a Hollywood Studio Lot. With the basic premise of looking behind the scenes on a movie set-with the individuals developing their own plot lines and characters – there is a sense of joyous experimentation to the whole proceedings. Musical Director and Composer Daniel Villar has composed a marvelous score spoofing the success syndrome with such numbers as “Up On The Silver Screen” and “It’s a Wrap.” As Directed by Patricia Woolsey and Stenise Reaves, there is never a dull moment.

'The Showdown' Cast. Photo courtesy of ArtStream.

‘The Final Showdown’ cast. Photo courtesy of ArtStream.

Appreciative parents mentioned that their children had never displayed such confidence as when appearing on the stage in these very interactive performance pieces as a part of the ArtStream Program. Indeed, when talking to Communications Consultant, Mary Martin, it was evident that these individuals truly gain independence and skills from appearing in. these shows. Their sense of freedom is definitely unleashed and it showed on stage.  Executive Director Patricia Woolsey said that the students were truly empowered  by appearing in these productions. Cast members improvise and rehearse for several months and, then, they merge with professional mentors to refine their acting skills leading up to the final production.

Coming up soon will be The Lone Job and The Wizard of Ooohs and Aaaahs which will run June 27- 30, Thursday and Friday at 8 PM and Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM at Round House Theatre, in Silver Spring, MD.


For more information on this exciting group that does so much for the community go to their website.

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