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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.


Our mission is to create compelling theatrical experiences in an inclusive environment with neurodiverse young people, building life skills one act at a time.

Brighter Connections Theatre believes

  • We believe our programs enrich lives by welcoming and celebrating our differences and strengths in a community where all belong.

  • We believe theatre improves life skills: self-advocacy, self-awareness, and communication, emotional, and social skills.

  • We believe inclusive theatre fosters friendships, develops confidence, and encourages understanding for all participants.



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 Dayton Livecvb , Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, and the Autism Society of Dayton.

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