Providing opportunities for adults with special needs to gain education in the arts and perform significant roles before live audiences, enabling them to enhance their social skills through artistic expression and grow in confidence both on and off the stage.
Backlight began in the upstairs processing center of Our Thrift Store, a business designed to employ people with special needs. It wasn’t for any grand purpose or intent, it was just a glimmer of an idea of something that could possibly bring people some happiness. But, after experiencing the response to our first little show, we realized we were on to something truly remarkable that could touch the hearts of both those with and without special needs. Our first production was rehearsed at the thrift store, it had a cast of 11 performers, and was performed in a children’s classroom at a local church for an audience of no more than 40 people, yet that little rendition of “Cinderella” brought the audience to tears. Since then, we have learned and grown together to make Backlight into something that our community wants and needs, and had the privilege of officially becoming a non-profit in 2013. Today our students are being taught in real studio space, perform shows with casts up to 40, and perform throughout the year in professional theaters for audiences up to 350 while we watch in wonder at what this “glimmer of an idea” has become…
Backlight is unique in how far reaching its effects prove to be. The students who participate are valued and respected as performers and given the chance to perform lead roles in productions that they never would have otherwise been able to have. They receive quality training in the arts that improves speech, expression, coordination, and overall confidence. And they are given a consistent community that they can never age out of. Backlight promotes integration by partnering with local theater to incorporate professional actors to perform alongside students in every performance. The actors that participate then have the opportunity to take a step back from the spotlight and use their time on stage to instead support and promote Backlight students. Through these partnerships and through touring productions, more audiences are reached and exposed to these kinds of performances. Audiences of all ages are then inspired and given the chance to better understand a community that may have never had much exposure.
A backlight is a light used to shine on a performer from behind to keep him/her from blending into the background; it is also used to signify innocence and purity. At Backlight Productions our aim is to keep people with disabilities from getting lost in the background in the performing arts world. We want to use the performing arts to not just entertain the public but to influence lives for the better. Backlight began as a way to bring some happiness and has become a way of promoting selflessness, empathy, kindness and integration in a world that desperately needs this message heard. We hope you will join us in seeing this mission furthered and spread!