Brighter Connections Theatre took off in Dayton, Ohio, in the summer of 2013. Several students and their families agreed to be research participants in founder Katie O'Leary's college honors research project, The Effects of Drama Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The purpose of the project was to investigate the benefits of the therapeutic use of theatre in helping children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other communication disorders improve their social, behavioral, and communication skills.
For the first three summers, Brighter Connections Theatre collaborated with the Dayton Theatre Guild which generously provided theatre and rehearsal space. The program grew in numbers and experience. In 2015, Brighter Connections Theatre became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, dedicated to providing this theatre program to more Dayton area students.
Beginning in 2016, Brighter Connections Theatre began collaborating with the University of Dayton's Theatre, Dance, and Performance Technology Program. This collaboration enabled even more program enhancements for our participants: the addition of technical theatre support, including costumes, lighting and sound design, UD student and faculty volunteers and cast members, and the opportunity for all cast members to engage with technical theatre elements.
UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON
Since 2016, the University of Dayton's Theatre, Dance, and Performance Technology [TDP] Program has collaborated with Brighter Connections Theatre. They provide our performance and rehearsal spaces, props, costumes, faculty, research publishing opportunities, College of Arts and Sciences Student Fellows, and theatre and performance technology expertise. Their expertise and facilities have enabled Brighter Connections Theatre to greatly enhance the social, behavioral, and communication learning experiences for participants, in a mutually rewarding environment for UD students, faculty and cast members. The collaboration is exemplary of UD’s, and the TDP program's commitment to community and the common good.
Dayton Theatre Guild - From 2013 to 2015, BCT was provided rehearsal and performance space, resources, and materials by the Dayton Theatre Guild. As active and generous supporters of local theatre opportunities, DTG went above and beyond providing a space for the fledgling organization, and welcomed BCT into their home as the organization grew each summer.
Brighter Connections Theatre continues to be grateful for the support of other community organizations such as Victoria Theatre Association, Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, and the Autism Society of Dayton.