Sandy Bruce, Founder and Exec Dir of Spectrum Arts, Inc. ("Shenanigans"), was inspired by her teen-aged grandson's challenges in a youth theater production group to find other outlets for his desire to get on stage. Coming from a business background, she was not familiar with theater, so she began researching. She discovered improvisational acting and noted the characteristics of improv were a complementary fit with the social challenges and inflexible, rigid thought patterns of autism. There were no programs available at the time that matched Sandy's vision, so Shenanigans was launched in 2009. Shenanigans uses an applied theater approach to gain a better understanding of social communication and to develop more flexible, creative thinking. What we are doing has resonated within the autism community, and we continue to expand throughout our metro area and beyond.
JStar, has been with Shenanigans since its beginning in 2009. A talented and experienced improv pro with a sharp wit and playful sense of humor, JStar has secured a prominent place for himself within the improv community here in Atlanta and around the globe. Besides being a Shenanigans instructor, Jstar is director, founder, and player of The Basement Theatre in Buckhead. Jstar is eager to share his passion for improv acting with students of all ages.
Jason Evans performed his first play when he was in 1st grade & understands how theatre can positively affect a child’s life. He trained in improvisational skills at Whole World Theatre in the '90s and sees the medium as a perfect way to introduce kids of all backgrounds to the stage. Jason, an autism daddy himself, is certified in DIR/Floortime therapy, which strongly influences his approach to teaching. Jason is also the lead teacher in developing our new Code Breakers program for young folks in transition to the adult world. Jason's classes are filled with energy and his personal sensitivity to the needs of autism.
Jesse Cramer graduated from Penn State University with majors in English and Theater. He has a strong improv background with professional troupes in NYC, Philly, Boston, and LA and is currently making a name for himself in the Atlanta theatre community as a director on stage and film. As a promising playwright, his original play, "The Strange Attractor" premiered to acclaim in Atlanta in May 2013. Jesse also works as a professional mentor to several teen and young adult clients in the metro area. Jesse's classes are influenced by Floortime and his true instincts in understanding our actors.
Val Bruce has years of experience with autism through her teen-aged son, who is the inspiration for Shenanigans. Val is Shenanigans' administrative assistant, director's assistant, and occasional video editor and photographer. With her background in piano, violin, and visual arts, she has more recently lent her talents to the art of machinima (videos created using the graphics engine of electronic games), and has earned industry recognition of her works. She also has significant social media experience in creating and moderating a popular machinima forum.
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