BY REBECCA HALL – STAFF WRITER
In a collaborative effort between six Susquehanna student volunteers and The Arc, a volunteer organization that helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the community will have the chance to see a live performance of “A Christmas Carol” on Dec. 8.
“It’s important to get out of the college bubble,” said senior Jake Young. “It’ll be amazing to see the power the arts can have on the community.”
“We were looking for something that people would already know,” said Young, director of the production. “We knew we wanted to perform something around Christmas time, and it’s a classic that everyone can relate to.”
Tammy Shutt, Sunbury coordinator of A Meeting Place for Expanding and Sharing (AMPES) and STEP, added, “It’s a simpler play, but they have loved learning the roles.”
According to Shutt, national Arc chapters have aspired for over half a century to ensure that their members have the support they need to feel accepted in their communities and, more importantly, have control over their own lives.
“The play has been teaching them that they can do anything if they put their mind to it. The advocates are learning that you can do anything if you truly put yourself into it,” Shutt said.
In Young’s sophomore year, he was first exposed to the local chapter of Arc, located in Sunbury. He had been looking into theater outreach at the time, he said, hoping to spread the art form to those who don’t have access to it.
“I did a few puppet shows with some senior citizens, and then in my spring semester I did a few volunteer improv workshops at Arc,” Young said.
Shutt said: “I reached out to [Young] originally. I knew he was interested in a bigger project this year, and I thought our advocates could gain a lot from performing.”
First-year Ariana Kohler said, “I can take a break from the busy college lifestyle and have fun. There is a lot of hard work being put into the production but it is also a ton of fun creating the characters and the scenes with minimal props, and it’s an overall great experience.”
Kohler continued, “Honestly, I have gained so much respect for the individuals at the Arc and feel like those who see our production will be able to feel a connection with them as well.”
First-year Evan Anderson, who is a part of the show added, “It really is fun seeing everyone having a good time and joking around with each other.”
“I think that by attending this play students will see more of the community around them. It will also expose students to adults with disabilities showing that these people are happy with the lives they have,” Anderson continued.
Young said: “It’s a chance for us to understand the people around us. By working together with others, we can reach a deeper understanding of each other, and form a tighter bond with the community.”
“A community works as one unit,” Young added. “I’m honored to be a part of that bond.”
“A Christmas Carol” will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 at Zion Lutheran Church, 15 South 5th Street, in Sunbury. Entry is free, and refreshments will be available to those who attend.