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Improbable Players Inc

 22 Mt Auburn Street, PO Box 746
 Watertown, MA 02472
[P] (617) 926-8124
[F] (617) 926-8315
www.improbableplayers.org
[email protected]
Erin Halsey
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INCORPORATED: 1989
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 22-2950758

LAST UPDATED: 12/11/2017
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No

Summary

Mission StatementMORE »

The mission of Improbable Players is to set the stage for prevention by educating the public about addiction and the hope of recovery through dramatic performances and theater workshops that help people recognize situations in their own lives and seek the help they need - presented by young actors who are in long-term recovery. Improbable Players work with schools and community organizations to enrich and supplement their prevention education curriculum.

Mission Statement

The mission of Improbable Players is to set the stage for prevention by educating the public about addiction and the hope of recovery through dramatic performances and theater workshops that help people recognize situations in their own lives and seek the help they need - presented by young actors who are in long-term recovery. Improbable Players work with schools and community organizations to enrich and supplement their prevention education curriculum.


FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year July 01, 2017 to June 30, 2018
Projected Income $185,000.00
Projected Expense $185,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Performances
  • Theater Workshops

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Overview

Mission Statement

The mission of Improbable Players is to set the stage for prevention by educating the public about addiction and the hope of recovery through dramatic performances and theater workshops that help people recognize situations in their own lives and seek the help they need - presented by young actors who are in long-term recovery. Improbable Players work with schools and community organizations to enrich and supplement their prevention education curriculum.


Background Statement

In 1984, under the artistic direction of founder Lynn Bratley, a woman in long-term recovery and Tufts University M.Ed., the company was launched with the creation of an original play, “I’ll Never Do That!” which uses the framework of an annual snapshot for a family photo album and depicts the story of the downward spiral of a family living with alcoholism. It is still performed today and has become the company’s signature program.
 
In the ensuing years the company has grown, attracting more actors, winning wider philanthropic support, and writing new plays to address the burning issues of the day. The newest play, End of the Line, which confronts the opioid epidemic and has already reached over 7,000 youth in the middle and high schools. Currently there are four plays in the repertoire, each focusing on the universal patterns of alcohol and other drug abuse and the always-present hope of change and recovery.
 
The power of the Improbable Players is all the young actors are in long term recovery. They not only bring the plays to life, but tell their real stories at the end of each play and engage in an extended dialogue with the audience.
 
Since 1984 over a million people in audiences from elementary schools to senior centers, community centers to national conferences have been educated and entertained by the players, pioneers in putting an authentic face on recovery.
 
 
 
 

Impact Statement

Accomplishments 2016-2017

  • Improbable Players reached 20,000 young people in their schools and conferences through performances and theater workshops.
  • The newest play, End of the Line, confronting the opioid epidemic has reached 14,000  youth since it opened in 2014.
  • October 2016: The results of a new survey were significant and show that Improbable Players' performance is moving students' beliefs, intentions and attitudes regarding substance use and increasing their perceived confidence in asking for help should they ever have an alcohol or drug problem.  The pre- and post-program survey were developed by the Players in collaboration with Dr. John F. Kelly, Director of MGH's Recovery Research Institute.  
  • December 2016: Improbable Players' End of the Line was featured on WBUR by senior correspondent Deborah Becker.
  • The Players' method of devising and presenting plays using applied theater has been widely recognized as an effective intervention. Improbable Players' performances were featured at two national conferences: AATE - American Alliance for Theater and Education in July 2016, Boston, and the NYU Forum on Ethodrama in New York in April 2017. 
  • January to June 2017: Executive Director search: Ads were posted and interviews were conducted by a players volunteer "transition team" made up of board members and staff. In the end, none of the candidates were chosen.
  • May 2017 a new leadership team was chosen by the transition team, made up of a four young professionals with a long history of working with the Players as actors and theater teachers.
Goals 2017-2018  
  • To reach 20% more people this year then last year through sales, grants, and individual donor help. 
  • To transition smoothly and effectively from an Executive Director/ Founder led organization to a management team who will take roles as a business manager /sales team, a program manager/artistic director, and a grant writer/researcher.
  • To expand geographically reaching more students in areas that have been hardest hit by the opiate epidemic. 

Needs Statement

Funding to support the mission: for schools and communities that would not otherwise be able to pay. Improbable Players strive to present as many free programs to schools as possible. The goal is to motivate young people to think and talk about the consequences of harmful drinking or drug use on their lives, friends, family and community,  to see there are real possibilities for change and to ask for help. 
 
Second Chance Fund: funding to train talented young clean and sober actors to work with the Players, developing and touring authentic new scenes and stories about addiction and recovery.
 
Geographic Expansion
Explore expansion to new geographies. Our programs and message are needed in areas hardest hit by the opiate epidemic.  

CEO Statement

from founder Lynn Bratley: "I started a theater company to change the world one person, one audience at a time. Theater is a powerful way to teach and learn—it captivates, educates and motivates, and one vivid scene is worth a thousand words. The Players' mission: to educate people about a devastating public health problem - the impact of harmful drinking and drug use on our families, our communities, and ourselves. I named it “improbable” because all the actors are in recovery and the plays come from their stories."


Board Chair Statement

from Joe Kelleher: "I have known the Director for many years as someone who is also active in organizations that support recovery advocacy and addiction treatment, I have seen the troupe perform many times for National Recovery Day at Boston's State House and for various community substance abuse prevention coalitions. The troupe has great value when it comes to educating people about addiction and recovery. Improbable Players present a high-impact show - the feedback is always enthusiastic and positive." 

Geographic Area Served

Central Massachusetts Region
Greater Boston Region-All Neighborhoods
Greater Boston Region-Allston / Brighton Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-Back Bay / Beacon Hill Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-Charlestown Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-Chinatown Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-Dorchester Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-Downtown Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-East Boston Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-Fenway / Kenmore Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-Jamaica Plain Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-Mattapan Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-Mission Hill Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-Roslindale Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-Roxbury Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-South Boston Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-South End Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-West Roxbury Neighborhood
Massachusetts-All Regions
Metrowest Region
Northeast Massachusetts Region
Pioneer Valley Region
CAPE &ISLANDS REGION, MA

Improbable Players is a touring theater company with troupes in Boston and New York. Both troupes travel locally in New England, the Tri-State area and nationally.

Organization Categories

  1. Arts,Culture & Humanities - Performing Arts
  2. Mental Health & Crisis Intervention - Substance Abuse Prevention
  3. Education - Secondary & High Schools

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)

Yes

Programs

Performances

Improbable Players offer performances for many audiences - schools, colleges, national conferences - with primary focus on youth in schools and their community organizations. Plays dramatically reveal consequences of choices faced by young people through true and recognizable stories.

After each program the actors step out of their roles to briefly tell their own stories of addiction and recovery and answer questions from the stage.Teachers and counselors are introduced and local resources are announced.        

  • I'll Never Do That! - A family must deal with alcoholism.
  • Running on E - How do you help a friend who is becoming addicted?
  • End of the Line - confronting the opioid epidemic 
  • Stages - two person program with short scenes

Budget  --
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Theater
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years) Families At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success 

Improbable Players bring addiction out from being a shameful secret, demonstrate that it is a widespread problem, encourage people to talk with someone about their concerns, and ask for help. They help to ERASE THE STIGMA so that people can get help. Young people who felt isolated with their issues speak to someone about it and get the help they need. 

Program Long-Term Success 
The programs have been welcomed into schools and featured at conferences since 1984, because the plays have a strong impact on their audience. In schools, teachers use the plays as a way to talk with their students about the characters and the issues, how addiction is a universal problem, and how recovery is possible for everyone. The plays and discussion with the actors motivate people to ask for help.
Program Success Monitored By 

After every performance the actors answer questions from the stage or facilitate small group discussions. Audience members fill out post-program feedback forms about the performance. Feedback is listened to, measured by the Players’ staff members and frequently used to update the programs and to keep the material current.

Examples of Program Success 
Faculty said:
* "Improbable Players made more of an impact on our students in two hours than the seven weeks of classroom presentations did." 
 
* "We have started a drug and alcohol abuse program at our school which is a direct result of your program."
 
* "I appreciate that the professional theatrical excellence of your performance is what helps bring the scenarios to life but feel certain that in the end it is your candid directness, your willingness to share your individual vulnerability and strength that connects you to the individuals in your audience."
 
* "What an exciting and unique approach to getting your message heard. The faculty and staff were awed by each of your characters, and the way you portrayed them. You have turned your experiential knowledge into a teaching tool for others. What a beautiful gift to give."
 
* "I am happy to state that this kind of program plays a part in what we consider a comprehensive prevention program."

Theater Workshops

 

  • Participatory theater workshops about preventing the harmful effects of drinking and drug use for all ages weave curriculum strands from health and theater.
  • Workshops create material out of improvisations from participants' experiences and stories - a method for groups working to solve community issues called sociodrama.
  • Participants learn about the classic roles that people play where there is substance abuse and how to do a simple intervention. They give voice and action to their solutions to drinking/drug use. 
  • Improbable Players: Using Applied Theater and Sociodrama in Addictions Prevention - a teaching manual, aligns the curriculum frameworks in health and theater arts.

 

Budget  --
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Artists-in-Residence
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years) Families At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success 
  • Schools and community coalitions partner with Improbable Players to reinforce community prevention lessons with active learning through theater.
  • In a recent workshop with high school students with the Boston Health Commission, Players' teaching artist commented, "...before the work, students were only looking at the problems as sad facts of life.  Putting situations in a dramatic context made them explore a beginning, middle, and a possible end.  They had the opportunity to explore multiple points of view, and by doing so they discovered layers of nuance of the health problems.  It showed us they were thinking about health topics in terms of a community problem instead of a personal problem."
Program Long-Term Success 
  • Theater workshops provide a vivid and dramatic enrichment to comprehensive community prevention strategies. Discussion about scenes presents opportunities to teach basic concepts about alcohol and other drug abuse. Improbable Players' dramatic programs are an enrichment to recovery advocacy organizations who are also searching for ways to promote wellness.
Program Success Monitored By 
  • Success for theater workshops is measured by participants' creative responses: scenes, monologues, journal writing and written feedback forms. 
Examples of Program Success 
  • Here is an example of student writing that demonstrates the student understood the concept of intervention: how can we help another person?
  • Dad, I am really hurt and disappointed at your drinking. You stumble around, and when you drive I am afraid that this is the end and I’m going to die. I have a teacher at my school who works at a detox. Why don’t you go? If you get help you will live like you just started a new life. I really care for you and I don’t want you to die, so please get help and go to a detox or rehab. Your son, Luis

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

--

Management


CEO/Executive Director Mr. Marshall Williams
CEO Term Start June 2017
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience

Marshall Williams is the Board Chair since June 2017. The company will be managed by four Co-Directors:

  • Christina Everett - BA in Theater Arts and Management, UMass Boston
  • Erin Halsey - BS in Psychology, City College of New York 
  • Andy Short - BA in Theater Education, Emerson College 
  • Dennis Staroselsky - BFA in Theater Education, NYU Steinhardt
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
Ms. Lynn Bratley M.Ed. Sept 1984 Sept

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --

Awards

Award Awarding Organization Year
Outstanding Career Achievement to Lynn Bratley Tufts University Graduate School 2003
Arts Excellence Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston 2001

Affiliations

Affiliation Year
Associated Grant Makers 2017
MASSCreative 2017
New England Foundation for the Arts 2017
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --

Collaborations

Improbable Players has worked successfully since 1984 in collaboration with many community and national organizations to promote substance abuse awareness and prevention through theater to reach their constituencies. The list includes national organizations, state coalitions and task forces, MA Judicial Institute, NIATx, SADD, MADD, National Recovery High School Association, District Attorney's Asset Forfeiture Grant Programs for example. Improbable Players primary collaboration is with schools and colleges in providing a creative component to their integrated comprehensive prevention strategies.
 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

--

Foundation Comments

--

Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 2
Number of Part Time Staff 2
Number of Volunteers 10
Number of Contract Staff 20
Staff Retention Rate % --

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 2
Hispanic/Latino: 2
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 8
Male: 10
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan Yes
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy --
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration Exempt

Risk Management Provisions

--

Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Quarterly

Governance


Board Chair Mr. Marshall Williams
Board Chair Company Affiliation retired
Board Chair Term June 2017 - July 2020
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Ms. Christina Everett Boston Casting Voting
Mr. Joe Kelleher Gavin Foundation Voting
Mr. David Svendsen Retired Voting
Mr. Marshall Williams retired Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Ms. Maryanne Frangules MOAR, Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery NonVoting
Mr. Roger Oser Ostiguy Recovery High School NonVoting

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 4
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 1
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 4
Board Meeting Attendance % 100%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

    --

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Improbable Players' Board of Directors' strength is that they are all individuals who have knowledge and passion about prevention. At their urging as of Spring 2012, both of the acting troupes, Boston and New York are launched into development of new scenes and stories to address the growing prescription drug/opioid overdose crisis among youth. This new play development has created the opportunity for leadership, as each of the actors writes and directs their own scene for the new play. This board is strong on support and encouragement.

Foundation Comments

--

Financials


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $124,904 $219,486 $164,596
Total Expenses $202,231 $185,271 $159,962

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- $71,818
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $29,296 $139,240 --
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $92,224 $69,928 $56,942
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- $5,538 $35,836
Membership Dues $3,384 -- --
Special Events -- $4,780 --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $125,685 $111,511 $93,679
Administration Expense $62,818 $63,410 $65,472
Fundraising Expense $13,728 $10,350 $811
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 0.62 1.18 1.03
Program Expense/Total Expenses 62% 60% 59%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 47% 7% 1%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $232,484 $331,551 $292,463
Current Assets $232,484 $297,095 $292,463
Long-Term Liabilities $0 -- $0
Current Liabilities $0 $8,956 $4,083
Total Net Assets $232,484 $322,595 $288,380

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
Bob Jolly Charitable Trust $25,000.00
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
Pappas Foundation $10,000.00
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
Stevens Foundation $7,500.00

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 24.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities -- 33.17 71.63

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

A former member of Improbable Players' Board of Directors left a generous bequest of $300K in November 2011 to the Players with no restrictions on how it was to be spent. He was an outspoken recovery advocate who supported the Players work in his lifetime and then in his passing. All of the funds are invested.
  
Improbable Players traditionally earned 70% of their income from sales of programs to schools, and 30% from grant writing to private foundations for free programs to low-income communities. Because of the national economic recession, school budget cuts and national testing preparation (MCAS), the number of Improbable Players’ paid programs was greatly reduced. 

Players is researching publishing the plays and the accompanying educational materials so that they could be available for national distribution. 

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the organization's IRS Form 990 for FY16, and per the reviewed financials for FY15 and FY14. Additional fundraising expense breakout detail was provided by the Form PC.
 
 

Impact

The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.


1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

 Improbable Players' primary goal is to educate the public about the consequences of harmful drinking or drug use and to encourage dialogue about healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices.

1. Create an artistically excellent and engaging theater piece.

The company auditions and hires young actors who are clean and sober for at least one year; actors who have been formally trained in theater, acting, or music who will be creative partners in the development of plays that are based on their experience, strength and hope.

2. Catch the attention of youth at a critical stage of their development in order to help them identify possible issues in their own lives.

· Present a play that is entertaining and riveting while offering them the opportunity to learn about the consequences of harmful drinking or drug use in a dynamic, non-lecture format.

3. Teach the basic facts about the harmful effects of drinking or using drugs, increasing knowledge about them and risks.

· A person doesn’t have to be an addict to have a life-altering experience because of drinking or taking drugs. (Such as motor vehicle accident, criminal activity, pregnancy)

· Drinking and using drugs alters a person’s judgement: plans and decisions made while sober aren’t necessarily kept when someone takes a drink.

· Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that affects people mentally, physically and spiritually.

· Addiction is one underlying cause of many social problems such as family conflict, impaired/drunk driving, violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

· Addiction problems cross all race, class, age, and gender boundaries and can happen to anyone.

· People can recover if they have the desire to do so: they don’t need to suffer alone.

4. Reinforce prevention education through interaction between the actors and the audience and subsequent follow up in the community, and help people to apply this knowledge to attitudes and behavior choices.

· Relate behavior of the characters in the play to roles people play in families and relationships where there is harmful drinking or drug use.

· Reinforce non-use behavior for those who have decided not to use.

· Demonstrate alcohol and drug refusal skills.

· Relate questions in the audience to events in the play and verifying the patterns of behavior through the personal stories of the actors.

· Point out the many resources available for help to those who are having problems and those affected by them.

· Encourage individuals to get help from the resources indicated.

· Encourage individuals to talk to someone if they identified with the stories presented.

5. Enhance and reinforce the lessons of the community’s overall prevention education program.

· Work closely with health educators and administrators to gain a better understanding of the key issues and incorporate these into the performance, including helping them select topical insert scenes.

· Help the organization draw public and media attention to the fact that they are promoting awareness programs.

· Create a public event that helps to serve as a strong community statement that supports and celebrates a no-use norm.

· Integrate the performance into the community’s health education programming: it may be the "kickoff" for prevention awareness week or the stimulus for discussion in the prevention curriculum of the health education courses.

6. Reach diverse populations, age, race, socio-economic status.

· Travel to schools and organizations that do not have the budget or resources to pay for the program: through the Players research and grant-writing efforts. 30% of programs are donated or supplemented through grants the Players have earned.

 


2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

 PERFORMANCES

Available for 2017-2018

· "I'll Never Do That!" Humorous short scenes and “Snapshots from a Family” about addiction in a family

· "Stages" How addiction affects us at every stage of our lives

· “End of the Line” Confronting the opioid epidemic

· "Running on E" Four friends face peer pressure 

(Note: The plays align with Massachusetts curriculum frameworks for middle and high school health and theater)

Each program provides educators with
  • Pre-program discussion questions

  •  Posters and optional bookmarks

  • Information for school websites is emailed: a description of the play along with topics for discussion
  •  Post-program discussion questions

  • Evaluation / reflection forms for audience members to evaluate the success of the Players’ visit.

Players’ presence starts important and honest conversations between parents, children, community members and other concerned adults. These conversations lead to greater social awareness by the community of problems that need to be faced and they present available resources so people can act on the information provided.

Theater Workshops

Theater is a powerful way to reach people—it captivates, educates and motivates. Participatory workshops about prevention weave together curriculum strands from health and theater, Theater workshops explore and create material out of improvisations from the participants' experiences in their communities, and teach fundamental acting skills: participants create scenes and stories about issues that they face. This method of groups working to solve community issues is called sociodrama.

Workshop participants learn about the classic roles that people play where there is harmful drinking or drug use and how to do a simple intervention. Participants can give voice and action to their solutions to drinking and other drug use. Learning is documented through their scenes, monologues, journal writing and feedback forms.

Improbable Players: using applied theater and sociodrama in addictions prevention is available. This teaching manual and learning workbook aligns the curriculum frameworks in health and theater arts and provides lessons and ideas for evaluating participant work for the benefit of the community and for funders. Improbable Players’ teaching artists are available for in-service training workshops for teachers.

 


3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

The organization was founded in 1984 by Lynn Bratley, M.Ed. in Theater Education, Tufts University, who is also a woman in long term recovery. Her original vision of intervening in the lives of young people before addictive patterns could be strongly established has shaped the company over its 33 year history. The new management team will be following the original guidelines.

Actors are accepted into the troupe following submission of their resume, an interview and an audition. They must have been successfully clean and sober for at least one year in order to apply.  They receive extensive training in the plays, customer relations, how to adapt the stories of their life experiences to the age of their audience, and how to facilitate effective discussions. Those who express interest are further trained to teach theater workshops. All work part time for the Players and have other jobs in acting, teaching, or music while all remain active in their recovery communities.

 Improbable Players’ teaching artists shatter stereotypes about people who are alcoholics or drug addicts and present a compelling case for audiences to think twice before turning to substance misuse. Serving as positive role models, the diverse troupe of actors demonstrates that the problem crosses all class, racial, gender, and age boundaries.  


4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

   The Players are committed to an authentic representation of the universal themes in substance abuse and recovery that cross all barriers of age, class, race and gender. Each year the Players directly reach over 30,000 people throughout New England, the New York area, and nationally - primarily youth in middle and high schools, but also including colleges, conferences, prisons, recovery centers, professional and community groups. The Players reach all income levels, geographic locations, and racial/ethnic backgrounds including the physically challenged and hearing impaired.

   Continued recognition in the addiction/substance abuse prevention community reinforces Improbable Players’ commitment to excellence and innovation in recovery advocacy through theater.  Over the last five years the Players have performed at the 2012 Harvard Medical School Addictions Conference and taught a theater workshop at the 2014 Cape Cod Symposium for Addictive Disorders. 

The Players are committed to raising their profile and growing their scope of influence beyond their historic performance numbers and audience size and will gauge success in part by the ongoing and growing support from the private foundation and reception of the communities they serve.

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Improbable Players has a 33-year track record of successfully working with schools and communities to enrich and supplement their health education curriculum efforts: their performances and workshops have long been recognized as a valuable component of an integrated, comprehensive prevention strategy.  The Players have carried the message of hope and prevention to nearly one million middle school, high school and college students over its history. 

Improbable Players stands at the edge of tremendous opportunity, with the growing national movement of recovery advocacy.  Unfinished work includes setting up new troupes in other cities and making a high quality documentary about how the Improbable Players use theater to erase the stigma and teach recovery.