Theatre Under the Stars
We are Houston’s premier musical
theatre & arts education non-profit.
Donate Now

Meet Two Students from the Inclusive Arts Showcase

Theatre Under The Stars’ Inclusive Arts Showcase is a one-night-only event that perfectly illustrates the importance of inclusivity in the performing arts.

Two of our students, Blake Varga who attends classes at The River, and Scott Fonseka who is a HSMT student, are both performing in the Inclusive Arts Showcase recently answered a few questions about what the impact theatre has had on their lives.

Blake

What’s the best thing about being in the Inclusive Arts Showcase?
The best thing about performing in the Inclusive Arts Showcase is that I get to do the two things I like the most, acting and singing. At TUTS they look at my talent, not my disability.

What do you like about performing?
I like performing because everyone looks at me as an actor, not a disabled person. Onstage, if I play a villain, I am a tyrannical monster. Offstage, I’m a gentle giant. It’s always fun to show off my alter ego.

How do you think performing with other students, both in classes and in productions like this one, makes a difference in your life?
Performing with other students has made a difference in my life because I have made many friends at camp while acting and singing. I’ve also met many HSMT students who are really fun to work with. They all love theatre as much as I do, so we have a lot in common.

What are you most looking forward to with this year’s Showcase?
I am most looking forward to performing an Ed Sheeran song and acting as Miss Trunchbull from Matilda the Musical. I love entertaining my friends and the audience. I think everyone will really enjoy the show.

Blake’s mom, Laura Varga, also talked about the impact performing in theatre has had on his life.

Do you think performing in the Inclusive Arts Showcase has made a difference in Blake’s life?
Being part of the Inclusive Arts Showcase was truly a dream come true for Blake. Throughout high school he has been in choir and theatre. He has been in several programs at school, but always as part of the ensemble, never considered for a lead part. Performing as his favorite musical character, Ms. Trunchbull from Matilda, with members of the HSMT, as the students, was the highlight of his life. He felt like a true professional actor. The best part was that the crowd went wild with applause! It has given him and I the confidence that he can achieve his dreams of becoming an actor, if just given the chance.

One of the goals of the Inclusive Arts Showcase is to actually show an audience what inclusivity in the arts looks like. What is one thing you would like people to know about the importance of inclusivity in the arts?
People with different abilities have the same desires and dreams as those without. Giving them the opportunity to showcase their talents validates them on so many levels. It says, "you can", instead of what they too often hear, "you can’t even try”.

Scott

What’s the best thing about being in the Inclusive Arts Showcase?
The best thing about being in the Inclusive Arts Showcase is getting to come to rehearsal and see friends I’ve known for a really long time through my experience with the River.

What do you like about performing?
I like performing because every performance is unique and a challenge.

How do you think performing with other students, both in classes and in productions like this, makes a difference in your life?
Performing with other students makes a difference in my life through the friendships I make with my fellow performers. Performing with others also pushes me to get better and it teaches important life skills through the collaboration with a cast.

What are you most looking forward to with this year’s Showcase?
I’m most looking forward to sharing the stage with Sebastian Driver because Sebastian and I have known each other since my start at the River and it is incredible to watch him grow as a performer.

Scott’s mom, Annabel Fonseka, also talked about what the students gain from participating in the Showcase.

Do you think performing in the Inclusive Arts Showcase has made a difference in Scott’s life?
The opportunity to perform in the Inclusive Arts Showcase is one of the highlights in Scott’s year as the event is joyful and uplifting. One of the students in the showcase goes to his school and when they see each other in the hallway they are pleased to see each other and take time to stop and say hi. This creates bonds and enriching life experiences.

One of the goals of the Inclusive Arts Showcase is to actually show an audience what inclusivity in the arts looks like. What is one thing you would like people to know about the importance of inclusivity in the arts?
I think the camaraderie and the joint pride in putting on a great show together is what stands out for me. The kids truly bond and have a great sense of achievement. There is a lot of love and respect among the group and that shines through and stays with the audience long after the show is over.

Related Posts