What is Kaiser's Room?


We believe that for any person, regardless of ability or diagnosis, connection is the key to authentic growth and happiness. We started Kaiser’s Room to empower individuals on the Autism spectrum and with other developmental delays to create those connections through artistic expression in a safe, welcoming environment. Our highly qualified team of educators, performers, and teaching artists come from a wide range of therapeutic backgrounds, and are constantly researching ways to better understand extraordinary people. 

The arts offer a unique opportunity to integrate essential skills like communication, movement, language development, and ensemble building into fun and engaging activities. Because of this, we provide a variety of classes and live performances that are designed to entertain and inspire people of ALL abilities including those with a diverse set of needs. We pride ourselves on being relentlessly inclusive in our programming — this means that we accept our participants exactly as they are, without ever pressuring them to conform to neurotypical standards.

 

Meet the Founder


STEPHANE DURET
Founding Director

Currently appearing in the Tony Award winning musical KINKY BOOTS on Broadway, Stephane began his Musical Theatre training at the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Fl. He then moved to Chicago, Il. and holds a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. 

In 2009 he accepted the role of Scout, The Boy Scout in a production called RED KITE: ROUND UP! A multi-sensory show specifically designed for children on the autism spectrum, and was ever changed.

Stephane then moved to NYC in 2011 after performing both locally and abroad and was given another life-altering opportunity: To make a difference in a little boy’s life by joining the playroom of his parent-run Son Rise program. There were many games played, many concerts performed and many car washes built, and through experiencing acceptance, appreciation, affection and love from this child, Stephane was quickly inspired to spring into action and use the tools he’d earned from his years of performing to help the autism community at large.

With these experiences constantly in mind and by merging his two passions, Stephane is committed and honored to introduce KAISER’S ROOM to the world!

For Kaiser, with Love!                       

 

Kaiser's Room Staff


ZanzaPhilip_Engaged-69 (1).jpg

PHILIP DALLMANN
Executive Director

Philip Dallmann is an accessibility advocate, audience services consultant, and playwright. Philip has consulted all over the country on autism/sensory-friendly/Relaxed performances including Segerstrom Center for the Arts (CA), Big Apple Circus (NYC), Durham Performing Arts Center (NC), Broward Center (FL), and more. During his time as Manager of Accessibility Programs at TDF he was a part of designing and coordinating over 60+ open captioned performances, 30+ audio described performances, and 5+ autism-friendly performances annually both on Broadway and Off-Broadway. Philip was part of the team that conceived and created TheatreAccess.NYC and he designed and helped coordinate TDF’s first ever Theatre Access Symposium.  Nationally he was the point person for initiating first time open captioned programs at over 30 regional theatres. Philip has presented all over on a variety of accessibility topics including the Kennedy Center’s LEAD Conference and Museum Access Consortium. Philip holds a BA in Theatre (concentration: Playwriting) and English (concentration: Shakespeare) from George Mason University as well as a MS in Autism Access from Penn State University.

 
C27BF687-683A-40F1-808C-1FF5BCDC376E.jpeg

NAJAH IMANI MUHAMMAD

Director of Education

Najah Imani Muhammad is a NY based theatre artist and educator, whose main goal is to use theatre as a communicative tool to bring people together and start conversations. Originally from Beacon, NY, Najah was able to take her interest in theatre as a teaching tool, and turn it into a passion, after receiving her BA in Theatre Education from Emerson College in Boston. Since moving to the city, Najah has devoted most of her time to working in public / charter school systems, and the community at large, teaching students how to become more compassionate and understanding leaders, through the arts. The children she has worked with have taught her that empathy, above all else, is our soul’s way of guiding us to a world more full of love than hate.  Najah was the founding drama teacher at Achievement First Endeavor Elementary School, where she realized how important imagination is to leading a productive life. Her classroom was where she was able to foster a supportive community for children of all learning styles and differences, through a shared love of performance. Najah can also be found working with organizations such as Disney Theatrical Group, The Leadership Program, and Leaders by Choice, continuing to serve the most dynamic groups of children throughout New York State. Outside of the theater, you may catch Najah lending her thoughts on camera or through writing, with her advice brand, "Najahknows." She is thrilled to be apart of the Kaiser’s Room team.

 
C. Ignacio 1 (3).jpg

CHRIS IGNACIO
Development Associate

Chris Ignacio is an NY based theatre artist, musician, puppeteer, producer and educator. He has toured nationally and abroad since earning his BFA from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and currently works as Associate Producer for Ma-Yi Theater Company. He is a Fall 2017 Culture Push Fellow, as well as a Queens Council on the Arts: Community Engagement Commissioning grant recipient for his project, Co-written, which involves songwriting with young people of color. His passion is working with marginalized and underserved communities toward an empowering self-actualization through theater and music. He is honored to be a member of the Kaiser’s Room team!

 
1389916624.jpg

TIMOTHY LEE MEADOWS
Finance Associate

Timothy Lee Meadows is delighted to be part of the Kaiser's Room team.  Originally from Asheville, NC, he studied Theatre at Point Park College in Pittsburgh, PA.  Tim brings to us a strong administrative, organizational and financial experience. He has been employed at Carnegie Mellon University's Field Robotics Center, The NASA-National Robotics Engineering Consortium, The McGraw-Hill Companies/F.W. Dodge, and BNY Mellon. 

 

FAITH CLARKE
Performer Training

Faith's previous career in Computer Engineering and Systems Analysis helped her sharpen her systematic approach to problem solving. She now applies those strategies to her current passion - helping people figure out the next steps on the path to their desired destination, and strategizing a plan to getting there. In her 20+ years as an educator, Faith developed an aptitude for curriculum development and creating self-discovery learning materials for adult learners that capitalize on core motivations. She's interested in adult learning issues and learning motivation, non-traditional learning environments, learning facilitation for special needs and learning differenced people. Faith thoroughly enjoys using an interest driven methodology to home school her three children, one with a diagnosis of autism. Her 100+ hours of training in various approaches to facilitating learning in people with autism have convinced her that every individual can learn, and we can support that learning by tuning in to their unique interests and strengths. Visit www.melodyofautism.com to learn more!

 

About Kaiser


  Kaiser's Self-Portrait

Kaiser's Self-Portrait

A few years before Kaiser's Room came to be I had the pleasure of meeting Stephane for the first time in my home where I ran a Son-Rise program for my then 5 year-old son with autism.  We sat across each other on my couch and I described to him what his work would entail – fully joining Kaiser in his world in order to build a bridge to ours and doing it with honesty, excitement and non-judgment.  It meant prioritizing their relationship over changing his behaviors as well as exploring any discomforts that may come up for him so that he could more effectively help Kaiser grow socially and emotionally.  Stephane acknowledged that this was a new and different method, but that this style of play reminded him of a recent encounter he had experienced at an interactive show with another autistic child.  By intuitively creating a deep connection with that boy Stephane became his trustworthy guide and was forever changed by the moment the boy spontaneously looked him in the eyes and called him “friend.”  

After hearing this story, it was clear to me that our approach resonated with Stephane and it wasn’t long before he was in Kaiser’s playroom singing and tap dancing with him, building car washes together of every size imaginable, pretending to be an elephant named Trompita for the hundredth time, and all the while also becoming my son’s trustworthy guide and friend.  Because there was a meaningful emotional connection between them, Kaiser was more motivated to learn many of the social skills that Stephane was teaching him, and because kids like Kaiser have a way of teaching others too, Stephane was inspired to make a difference in the broader community, and Kaiser’s Room was born.  

Today Kaiser is an outgoing, socially motivated 9 year-old boy with varied interests, but he especially has a gift and love for the performing arts.  He wants to be a rock star, a drummer, a circus performer and hopes to impress Simon on America’s Got Talent one day!  I truly believe that his confidence in expressing himself creatively and his ability to engage with others is very much the result of having had a safe space to do so with the support of so many individuals (many of them artists) who understood that he needed to be emotionally invested to learn and grow. This is why I believe the world of the arts is an ideal environment for children with special needs to learn to make deep connections, relate to others and transcend barriers, as only the arts in all its forms can so inherently do by bringing people together in a shared experience.  This is why families like mine need Kaiser’s Room and why my heart is behind its mission.

- Denise, Kaiser's Mom
Check out her work at www.coreneedsnyc.com