In 1999 a dedicated volunteer who grew up with spina bifida and had participated in theater in another state, Kathy Tweet, helped coordinate a donated theatrical and musical performance ticket program through Ability360 (previously Arizona Bridge to Independent Living or ABIL). She began expressing a desire to Ability360 staff to become more than spectator and start a theatre group. She and other Ability360 participants, with the agency and grant support, started a Readers Theater, bringing poet and performance artist Cheryl Wade to the Phoenix area for inspiration, and then secured a grant to work with Playback Theatre in 2000 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Melissa Ann Santora
The group called themselves Improbable Theatre Company (ITC) and with Ability360’s support began performing at local events and working with a variety of local guest directors and playwrights to help develop their theatre skills and creating original material. ITC Has benefited from the guidance of several local artists including Wendy Meyers, Anthony Runfola, Jim Newcomer, Joshua Yeatts, Jeff Rawls, Bonnie Eckard, Almeta Whitis, Jeff McMahon, Delores D’Amore Goldsmith, and Melissa Ann Santora.
The cast and directors have changed over the years and in 2003 they were invited to perform at the Herberger Lunchtime Theater, which they have done almost every year since! In October 2015 when ABIL rebranded as Ability360 – a name that better reflects our full array of programs empowering Arizonans with disabilities, Improbable Theatre Company rebranded to Theatre360 to better reflect their diversity and commitment to full involvement of Arizonans with disabilities in all areas of life, including the arts.