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Out of the Box: Creating a home away from home for Lakeland’s disabled community

Learn more about how this program through Lakeland Community Theatre is empowering members of the disabled community to step out of the box and into the spotlight.

A group of smiling individuals wearing "Out of the Box" t-shirts smile at the camera.

Founded in 2011, “Out of the Box” has become a safe space for the disabled community to express their creativity for 13 years.

Photo courtesy of Lakeland Community Theatre

One of the biggest players in Swan City’s arts scene is Lakeland Community Theatre, part of whose mission is “to create an opportunity for individuals of all ages to develop and showcase their talents in a safe, nurturing, educational environment.” One way the organization does this? Its “Out of the Box” theater troupe.


“Out of the Box” performs two shows per year — in the spring of 2023, they performed “Jillian’s Island”, an original play by the 8th grade creative writing students at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy.

Photo courtesy of Lakeland Community Theatre.

Founded in 2011, “Out of the Box” provides individuals with disabilities from age 10 to adults the opportunity to gain confidence through the performing arts in an inclusive, supportive environment.

The troupe is currently directed by the theatre’s Education Director Jordyn Jones and puts on two free performances each year — one in the fall and one in the spring. Members of the troupe are paired up with volunteer mentors known as “TKs” to help them navigate the rehearsal and performance process.

Members and volunteers pose on stage.

“Out of the Box” operates solely on grants + donations, as well as the time and talents of volunteers.

Photo courtesy of Lakeland Community Theatre

Since its inception, Out of the Box has grown from eight to around 100 members and operated entirely on donations + grant funding so that all members can participate at no cost. The troupe is currently at its member capacity, but it is always seeking adult volunteers. Those interested in volunteering can reach out to the theatre’s Business Manager, Bernardette Heaps, for more information.

The troupe’s final performance of the year, a Disney-themed revue, will happen Friday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 11 at 10:30 a.m at 121 S. Lake Ave. — seating is on a first come, first served basis. Donations for the program will be accepted at the door, or can be made via the theatre’s website.

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