Good practices

Making theater with people with intellectual disabilities

Making theater with people with intellectual disabilities

We know from experience that theatrical activities for people with intellectual disabilities are a powerful instrument for achieving goals such as empowerment, self-direction and more inclusive coexistence. By using theatrical play you give them lots of opportunities to experiment with everyday situations. You give them the opportunity to deepen/explore/experience life themes; you increase their imagination, expression and social skills. In short: in a playful way you offer them all kinds of opportunities to continue to grow and develop.  


Year(s): currently ongoing

Target group(s): coaches of youngsters with intellectual disabilities

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Kiem-Theatre method is developed especially for people with intellectual disabilities. Theatrical activities appeal to fantasy, expression, empathy and cooperation. The player himself discovers his own body, language, voice, facial expression, feeling and personal thoughts and opinions. That is what makes theatrical play so valuable: experimenting with your own possibilities, those of each other and within the themes you play with.

Some of the principles are:

1. Determine the correct game level

With the Kiem Theater method, the theater medium is applied in small steps. So that you can analyze what competences the player needs in order to ultimately achieve expression, imagination, empathy and teamwork. Three phases have been developed: players in the imitation phase, players in the symbolic phase and players in the interplay phase. 

2. Choose the right game theme

The Kiem Theater methodology is based on themes that help the players to connect with other people in society. You often see players sticking to their own theme, such as a favorite TV show or a favorite artist. Theater in particular offers the opportunity to present universal themes. Themes such as love, family, bullying, loneliness, friendship, the environment, nature, neighbours, other cultures, marriage. What is their perception of these themes? What do they know about this? What else can they discover? What are their stories?

3. Start small

Supervisors who sometimes work with theater often end up at a dead end after a number of lessons. After all ideas have been tried they don’t know how to go on. Our advice: keep the theatrical activities small from the very beginning.   





Type of product

Course / Training

Brief description of the outcomes

Training methodology for professionals and educators who work with people with intellectual disabilities.  


Impact on target groups / Transferability potential

The training has impact on the following target groups:

Client counselors learn how to encourage their clients to tell and share their own view of the world with others; they also gain experience on how to create social involvement within their residential or day care group.

Educators gain skills on how to introduce students to a different form of communication and organize activities.

Employees in care learn how to help clients to integrate better into society.

Directors and theater makers receive guidance on how to make performances with people with disabilities.  

The methodology is transerable to other target groups.



Promoter of the initiative: Anke Purmer and Cara Stolp, Kiem Theater

Country: Netherlands

Languages available: Dutch

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