Penguin Project helps kids with disabilities shine onstage

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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois- Once a year a celebration of the human spirit unfolds at numerous theaters across the country. The Penguin Project is a national project that provides children with special needs the chance to act in a major theater production. For the third year the Penguin Project will come to the Quad Cities.

All the roles in the Penguin Project are filled by young artists with developmental disabilities like down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, and other neurological disorders.

Peer mentors volunteer to work side-by-side with the actors throughout the rehearsal process. One volunteer, Jacob Pecaut, is consistently moved to tears by the actors. An actor himself, Pecaut said watching the kids’ excitement to be on stage refreshed his passion for theater.

The non-profit film studio Fresh Films will produce a documentary about Penguin Project titled “I Am Able.” The documentary will follow the stories of youths with disabilities as they perform.

This year the Penguin Project presents Seussical, a live musical adaption of Horton Hears a Who and other Dr. Seuss stories. Showtimes are February 22, 23 and March 1, 2 at 7:30 p.m. On February 24 and March 3 there will be matinee shows at 1:30 p.m. All performances will take place at Augustana’s Brunner Theater.

The Penguin Project of the Quad Cities is a collaboration between Augustana College Theater and the Center for Living Arts.

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