In 1991, special education teacher Nanette Mikes came up with the idea to start a drama class for young adults with special needs, so that they would have a place to socialize after they graduated. The Quest Center in Hollywood was excited about the idea and agreed to house the 3-hour evening class. “The Drama Class for Adults with Special Needs” began with a mere 12 students that met once a week. As the years passed, the class grew in size. ETC has also been acknowledged by the Very Special Arts (VSA) of Florida as an innovative theater arts program for persons with disabilities and also by the School Enrichment in Arts and Science (SEAS) Program. ETC continues to teach at a Broward County Community School location.
Under the direction of Debbie Lombard, the one class became a program and was renamed the Exceptional Theater Company (ETC) and was established as a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization. Over the past 19 years, its membership has surged past 200, with 20 classes throughout Florida’s Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, and a summer program in Asheville, North Carolina. The performers, and volunteers usually pick the themes and Write the scripts for their annual performance. In 2010, the ETC Actors performed the full length play “Cinderella” for an audience of over 600 people — and everyone was thrilled! Most of the classes meet once a week for a minimum of one hour.
The Exceptional Theatre Company continues to grow and make a difference, one star at a time.