ACTS

Acting Creates Therapeutic Success 

ACTS at Bost

Director: Dr. Jennifer Moore, Ph. D.

Arkansas College of Health Education Occupational Therapy Program

Student Volunteers

Classes take place on  Tuesdays 4 – 5 pm

6 Bost Participants

 

Previous Show – The Peanut Butter King

Upcoming Show: The Black Out - July 18th, 2022

General

Acting Creates Therapeutic Success (ACTS) is a community-based program designed to provide opportunities for engagement in the performing arts for individuals with all abilities while also encouraging occupational therapy students to understand the empowerment of human capabilities through the arts.  ACTS provides opportunities for social participation, goal attainment, leisure pursuits, and community engagement.    

History

ACTS was founded in 1997 by three colleagues from the University of Central Arkansas.  Drs. Jennifer Moore and Cathy Acre from the Department of Occupational Therapy and Dr. Bob Willenbrink from Mass Communication and Theater.  Drs. Moore and Acre were inspired by a presentation by performers from VSA Arts:  The International Organization on Arts and Disability during a national occupational therapy conference. 
At its inception, there were four performers, four occupational therapy students, and the three founders participating in the program.  Currently, there are three ACTS programs for adults serving approximately 80 participants and four ACTS programs serving around 50 children which are all led by occupational therapy practitioners and students. 

Programming

While each ACTS program may vary in scheduling the process remains relatively the same.  The program is divided into 2 phases. 
During the first phase, occupational therapy students engage the small groups of performers in the OINCS system. 
  • Orientation (O) – Engaging in physical and mental warmups, helping participants focus attention
  • Integration (I) – Adding one activity to another
  • New Elements (N) – Combining three or more activities
  • Collaboration (C) – Working in pairs or teams
  • Storytelling (S) – Adding language and conflict, telling a story
During this phase the director, occupational therapy students, and performers identify a theme or storyline for the performance.  Generally, the theme is an outcome of the OINCS sessions.  Below are some examples:
  • Santa wants to move Christmas to July, upsets the summer holidays, and must petition the holiday logistics coordinator to find a solution.
  • The owner of e-Harmony (match making company) sabotages his clients’ first dates because he is unhappy and doesn’t want anyone else to be happy. Couples are determined to find a solution and love.
  • Elvis gets tired of the “fame and fortune” lifestyle and is transported back in time to simpler days that ended up not being so simple.
  • The red ring of the Olympic rings wants to add new games into the Olympic games, but the rest of the rings are happy with the way things are. The Olympic Committee is called to action.
  • Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are stuck in traffic due to road construction and won’t make it to the State Fair to perform. The organizers must find new talent and fast.
  • The dream machine breaks down and everyone is having nightmares. Psychiatrists, Serta mattress sheep, and the Sandman all try to figure out what to do.   
During the second phase, occupational therapy students lead the small groups in rehearsals and then the director develops transitions to connect the small groups with the overall story and performance.  If one takes the story centered around Santa wanting to move Christmas to July, the small groups/scenes may include:
  • Holidays are protesting in front of the Office of Holiday Logistics Coordinator.
  • Holidays get tired of waiting in line to see the Holiday Logistics Coordinator.
  • Santa has a “heart to heart” with the holidays of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July.
  • Thanksgiving holiday threatens to go on strike.
It should be noted there are no scripts, students and performers are encouraged to have conversations and tell the story through words and/or actions.  During the latter part of the second phase, weekly sessions are devoted to set design, repetition of scenes, staging, costuming, and refinement of the performances.  Participants are encouraged to contribute to all areas of the creative process including story development, dance choreography, actor portrayal, costuming, and set and playbill design; culminating in a performance for the public each year. 

Why Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a healthcare profession that incorporates therapeutic use of everyday life activities (occupations) with individuals or groups for the purpose of enhancing or enabling participation in roles, habits, and routines in home, school, workplace, community, and other settings. 
The word occupation in occupational therapy can be defined as “the occupying of place and time in a rich tapestry of experience, purpose, and attached meaning”.   Individuals occupy their time by engaging in activities of daily living, rest and sleep, education, work, play, leisure, and social participation. 
Occupational therapy practitioners embrace humans as occupational beings engaging their time and energy in doing things that are meaningful, pleasurable, productive, and hopefully healthful; exploring and mastering environments to promote their participation and becoming creative when obstacles require circumvention. 
Occupational therapists view the path to health and well-being as intricately linked to the ability to participate in daily occupations or those activities that are important and meaningful.  Occupational therapy focuses on enabling individuals to maximize their capacity to participate in life activities that are important and meaningful to them, to promote overall health and wellness. 
There is a growing body of literature showing that lifestyle and occupational (activity) choices influence both physical and psychological well-being.  Humans engage in occupations as a vital component of their overall well-being; thereby influencing their health.  So – occupations are fundamental to participation in society, and participation, in turn is fundamental to social equity.  The idea of equitable personhood depends on all people participating in their communities as they are able and wish to be included in the central occupations of a society.  For instance, persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities may be excluded from full participation in occupations by poverty, stigma, lack of transportation, or regulations that limit their participation.  They become more fully participating citizens when they are included either by their engagement or by social recognition/contribution.  This recognition – participation in everyday life is a basic requirement for citizenship. 
Occupational therapy practitioners use several methods to facilitate a performer’s participation and engagement in the performance.  By evaluating the strengths of each performer, the performer’s talents and abilities can be matched to a part in the performance that highlights their talents.  When physical, cognitive, social, environmental, visual, speech, hearing, or other challenges become barriers to the individual in playing a role in the performance, the occupational therapy student may modify the scene, adapt the environment, try varying rehearsal approaches, work with the performer’s family/caregivers, or partner with the performer so the performer feels successful.