COTTAGE GROVE, OR: On September 15th, the curtains at the Opal Center will part for a very special group of woman and men ages 10 to 60+, who love to act. What makes this group so special is that they have disabilities of all ranges. Carmen Dowell, a Cottage Grove artist, began a series of free acting workshops for people with disabilities about 6 months ago. During these workshops, they were able to write a play that catered to each actor’s disabilities. This group, named Creative Chaos, will perform their play at the Opal Center in Cottage Grove on September 15-17 and 22-23. Tickets are $10 and available now through

Creative Chaos was conceived when founder Carmen Dowell’s best friend Monica Venice, who has Down Syndrome, wanted to act. Dowell explains, “A few years ago, I took her to an audition and the director told us to leave and didn’t even give her the opportunity to audition. This was the first time I had witnessed discrimination to Monica for having a disability.” Dowell was shocked and outraged. “I made it my mission to help fulfill her dream of being on stage.” And that determination has paid off; Monica has been cast in two plays since that first bad audition experience.

Since Monica has fulfilled her acting dream, Dowell began to realize how many of Monica’s peers shared the same dream. “Before I knew it, many of her/my friends with disabilities were approaching me asking when I was going to get them on stage.” Says Dowell. This led her to create Creative Chaos, an all-inclusive acting company for individuals with disabilities who want to be on stage in January 2017. The company is already planning for their production in September 2018. “There are going to be LOTS of fairy tales!” Dowell says, laughing.

Tickets for Creative Chaos’ first production are $10 each and are on sale now at Opal’s website, or at their box office in Cottage Grove, the Crafty Mercantile, 517 E Main Street. The Opal Center is located at 513 E Main Street, Cottage Grove. This production is sponsored by Trips, Inc. and Dirt Cheap Copies.

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