Written by Jaime L. Tomeo Friday, 07 August 2009 00:00
When the Long Island Center for Independent Living in Levittown opened their Living Library last year, staff members read scenes from plays as part of the celebration.
“This was so well received that it was suggested that LICIL start a theater group,” LICIL Human Resources Manager Diane Puchta said.
And so The Turnpike Players began. Long Islander and cabaret performer Donna Rubin was chosen to lead the group as artistic director.
The Turnpike Players are part of LICIL, a not-for-profit counseling and advocacy center operated by and serving persons with disabilities. Formed in 2008, the Players include students and professionals who enjoy sharing acting and writing skills. They’ve even created their own version of Inside the Actors Studio.
Half of the Players have a disability and the other half do not.
The membership is open to everyone who is interested in Reader’s Theatre or enjoy being part of the technical end of theatre,” Puchta added. “While many members of the group have a disability, none of them wish to be identified by it.”
Reader’s Theatre means no memorizing is required, however the Players meet every week to sharpen their performances and incorporate new scenes or readings into their show.
In addition to performing at LICIL functions, the group recently made its traveling debut performing their show Our Tapestry of Dreams for the Peternana Terrace Apartments in Freeport.
“The LICIL Turnpike Players has been very well received by both our consumers and the public,” Puchta said.
For now, LICIL provides the meeting area and has helped with the expenses such as transportation for members and equipment.
“Our goal is to become self-funded,” she added. However, the group does not currently charge for appearances, nor are the members paid for their time.
“I tell the people who have contacted us for shows that we can and will accept a donation to the center,” Puchta added.