The Rainbow Players don’t exactly reject terms like “tolerance,” “acceptance” and “inclusion,” they simply transcend them. This 13-year-old troupe of youth and adults with physical, developmental and learning disabilities uses improvisational theater to share their stories and foster connections. The group is a project of ETTA (Empowerment Through The Arts) International, a cross-disciplinary partnership offering participation and training in the arts to people of all abilities, on the principle that inclusion in a community’s arts and culture “increases the benefit for the entire community.”

The group was invited to participate in the Cultural Olympiad surrounding last summer’s Olympic Games. Since returning from the U.K., the Players have focused on “seeding” new improv troupes around the Valley. One of these blossomed at Amherst Regional High School, which teams up with the Rainbow Players this weekend in a mix of improv games and scenes titled Back Off Bully You. According to Ezzell Floraniña, ETTA’s artistic director, this work, drawn from techniques of social justice theater and drama therapy, yields “the possibility of a re-invention of self, a self-empowerment through performing stories that have, up until now, been painful memories.”

April 6, 7 p.m., $5-8 sliding scale, Amherst Regional High School, 21 Mattoon St., Amherst, (413) 362-1700.

Author: Chris Rohmann

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