Today you will meet Kathryn “Katie” Yohe, the co-founder and Executive Director of the A.B.L.E Ensemble, a Chicago-based performing arts non-profit that works with teenagers and young adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities, like down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy-among others. Their members range from their mid-teens to their late twenties and early thirties.
As Katie said during the interview, once you are accepted into A.B.L.E, you can stay for as long as you like. In addition to being a place for the members to showcase their creative expression, in whatever way fits them, it is also a second home. For young disabled adults, life changes dramatically as they enter adulthood. One of Ms. Yohe’s objectives is to always be present for her performers and their families. To be a constant in an ever-changing world.
During the interview, we learn about Katie’s childhood, putting on theatrical performances at home, and the eventual pursuit of her initial dream to become a classically trained theatre performer under the bright lights of Broadway. A series of serendipitous events eventually led to the creation of the A.B.L.E. Ensemble.
Through Katie’s training in Applied Theatre, and with the collaboration of Teaching Artists and Facilitators, her team creates original stories in partnership with their actors or adapts classical theatre works, like Shakespeare, to modern times and to reflect the diversity of abilities within their ensembles.
Even though Katie’s goals changed, she still accomplished her dreams. In the last five years, she has brought her love of performance and its transformative magic to young people who currently have no space in traditional theatre. She created a space for them, to be unapologetically themselves.
To learn more about the A.B.L.E. Ensemble, go to https://www.ableensemble.com
To learn more about Aging Wisely: The Podcast, go to: https://www.agingwiselypodcast.com