What it is

What it is

InterActing teaches young adults to interact spontaneously, socially and flexibly through theater and improvisation.

Teenagers with autism often experience problems with conducting a ‘normal’ conversation. For these young people, spontaneous interaction can be challenge. They also come into the age that they realize that they are ‘different’ than their peers. Making friendscan be difficult leading to feelings of being misunderstood and isolated.

InterActing is a theater program and also serves as a meeting place. In our safe environment, participants playfully learn social understanding and flexibility while having fun and laughing. Besides, being an actor is cool, something even autistic teenagers can value.

With the basic principles of improvisation theater, Boom Chicago’s professional actors, together with ChildCenter’s supervisors, work with the teenagers. The participants experience how they can collaborate with others, how they can complement each other’s ideas and how they can learn from others while having a great time.The goal is to turn scripted behavior into meaningful interaction. InterActing wants to help these young people go from imitation to conversation to improvisation.

Our approach

We train young people with communicative challenges, not by enhancing skills, but by enhancing social understanding and social flexibility. Structure is important, but as a means, not an end in itself. Social skills are usually trained with a behavioral approach (rehearsing of desired behavior), assuming that these can be applied in similar, new situations. This approach, however, strengthens the ritualistic behavior and not the social flexibility.
To become socially skilled, we prepare the participants for the unexpected via improvisation techniques. Improvisation theater doesn’t use a script, but builds based on basic principles such as ‘Yes And’, which are essential to complementing each other’s ideas and developing a bond with the other.

The advantages of our approach at a glance

  • Fun
    Having fun strengthens the motivation and reduces stress. Laughing together connects and makes working together easier.
  • Self-confidence
    Daring to take risks plays a major role in improvisation. Learning how to present oneself is also important. The young actor learns to trust his or her own ideas and skills.
  • Imagination
    ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge,’ Albert Einstein famously believed. Making creative choices and coming up with new ideas are essential in improvisation and drama.
  • Empathy
    Playing roles from different situations and perspectives promotes sympathy and tolerance for opinions and feelings of others. Acting is about understanding emotions and how to express them.
  • Communication skills
    Theatrical play increases the verbal and non-verbal ways to consider ideas and move them forward.
  • Problem solving
    The young actors are taught how to communicate with the audience in who, what, where and why form. Improvisation promotes fast, focused thinking.
  • A chance to let feelings out
    The young actor has the opportunity to display a palette of feelings. Aggressiveness and tension are channeled in a safe environment, and reduce antisocial behavior.
  • Social awareness
    Legends, myths, poems, stories and drama are incorporated into performances and allow the young actor to learn something about social differences between other cultures, both past and present
  • Body strength and the process of senses
    Physical exercise in the theater improves flexibility, coordination, balance and control.