Artist Amanda Kochell holding up her Paper Mill Playhouse program for "Beauty and the Beast".

Drama facilitator, Mike Christie, proposed a new idea a couple months ago. The artists working in the Arts Access drama program are passionate about their work, but don’t often have the opportunity to see live theatre performances. Many artists recognize the importance of seeing the work of their contemporaries; the inspiration it sparks, the sense of comradery it forms between creatives, and just the joy of experiencing an artform that you love. The Friends of Matheny understood this importance, too, and generously agreed to fund a number of trips for the Arts Access dramatists to see live theatre in New Jersey.

The first trip was in May, to see “Surfing My DNA” at the New Jersey Repertory Company, located in Long Branch. The professional, non-profit theater was founded in 1997 by Dr. Gabor and SuzAnne Barabas, the same couple who founded Arts Access back in 1993! Amanda Kochell and Natalie Tomastyk attended the performance, and had the additional opportunity to meet the play’s author, Jodi Long, after the show.

The second trip was in June, to see “Beauty and the Beast” at Paper Mill Playhouse, located in Millburn. The non-profit theater has become a leader in accessibility, offering an array of options for audiences, including audio descriptions, live sign interpretations, open-captions, and sensory-friendly performances. Jessica Evans, Amanda Kochell, Rasheedah Mahali, and Lauren Weekes-Young attended this enchanting production.

Our artists have loved these opportunities and will surely take the inspiration from these trips to imbue new and exciting ideas into their own work. Thank you again to the Friends of Matheny and facilitator Mike Christie for bringing all of this together. To learn more about this and other projects for Arts Access, be sure to join our email list and follow us on social media.

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