In celebration of Disability Pride Month, the Queens Theatre will be launching a fundraising campaign supporting the Theatre for All (TFA) acting training program. Additionally, actor and New York City native Vincent D’Onofrio, who teaches classes for TFA, will match the first $15,000 in donations.
D’Onofrio has been teaching method acting classes for TFA since the program launched in 2018. The donations raised will help support the program’s fifth installment this fall. The acting program serves to provide acting training to those who identify as deaf or disabled.
“As producers ourselves, we have been able to expand our own artistic family, finding talented actors to work with on our own productions and projects,” Queens Theatre Executive Director Taryn Sacramone said. “We are extremely grateful to Vincent D’Onofrio not only for his generous pledge but for his active role since the start of the program. He is an extraordinary teacher, eager to support his students and TFA alumni and he is committed to helping to continue what has become an important annual program at Queens Theatre.”
According to Sacramone, the program is free for those who wish to participate. She also said the funds raised will go to program costs including teaching artists, accessibility services and local travel.
“While we have won many battles in the arts to advance diversity, we still struggle in many areas,” D’Onofrio said. “Deaf and disabled artists are making strides, yet they are still not treated equally among artists. Theatre for All training at Queens Theatre aims to change that by supporting emerging artists, giving them opportunities to study the arts and connecting them with teachers and mentors. It’s time for deaf and disabled artists to be a strong part of the larger movement for diverse representation in the arts.”
Queens Theatre made a conscious effort six years ago to work with more deaf and disabled artists and to learn from other cultural institutions offering more accessibility services to their patrons and audience members. It created an advisory board that was composed of an integrated group of disabled and non-disabled individuals with backgrounds in theater, activism, academia and arts administration. The outgrowth of this led to the creation of the Theatre for All program.
In addition to acting training, TFA has also offered multiple presentations of short plays by disabled playwrights, in-school performance programs for children and teens with disabilities, expanded accessibility services at the theater, a National Disability in Theatre Convening in 2019 and the Forward Festival for the Arts, a multiweek, multidisciplinary festival of artists and companies that center performers with disabilities.
The program’s workshops and panels are all led by disabled and non-disabled theater/film industry professionals. These workshops and panels include auditioning, acting, improvisation, musical theater, voice and movement. There are three training tracks for actors with varying levels of experience: beginner, early-career and working actor. It culminates with an industry showcase performance for the early career-level and working actor-level students.
Located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the Queens Theatre aims to provide high-quality performances and programs that are accessible to the residents of Queens. It presents dance companies, produces, presents and develops new works of theater, family programming, community engagement events and initiatives and offers a range of education programs onsite, in schools and in senior centers.
D’Onofrio was born in Brooklyn and studied at Manhattan’s Actors Studio and the American Stanislavski Theatre. He’s appeared in several notable films, including “Full Metal Jacket,” “Men in Black,” “The Player,” “Jurassic World,” “Ed Wood” and “Mystic Pizza.” He’s also prominent for his roles as Detective Robert Goren in “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and Wilson Fisk in the Netflix series “Daredevil.”