The terms “developmental disabilities” and “challenges” are often synonymous with each other. In fact, challenges are part of life whether experienced typically or with developmental disabilities. However true this may be, here at 4th Wall we understand that the challenges of people with developmental disabilities can often bring up questions of the “accessibility” of certain… Read More

4th Wall is fortunate to have over 50 clients.  At some of these venues we partner with universities offering their students real world experience before they enter the field.  Some facilities have a built in peer mentorship program which helps increase the helper-student ratio.  And for all our clients we always welcome volunteers (after their… Read More

Katie Mann
January 8, 2015

Please watch the video below.  At first glance it is a simple, heart-warming piece of 20 or so students doing a rhythm stick routine.  But let me tell you what I see… I see 20 students who are labeled various degrees of “low-verbal” and “low-functioning.”  A group of students who I am often challenged to… Read More

Katie Mann
October 30, 2014

Read all about us and our double collaboration with the Down Syndrome Guild of Southeastern Michigan and Sunrise of Bloomfield Hills.  We performed a spooky showcase for the senior residents. Click here! Read More

Katie Mann
October 24, 2014

By: Gabby Gauruder Do you believe in coincidences? As I entered my junior year at MSU this fall, my world had been shaken. I always thought I understood what it would be like for a person to go through a serious illness but it wasn’t until now that I truly realize how hard it is… Read More

Katie Mann
August 27, 2014

We want to thank Fox 2 Detroit, specifically “Mr. Lee” Thomas, for highlighting our program.  Not only did he and camera operator, “Mr. Greg,” kindly spend a morning with us, they reported our class with love and generosity.  Thank you, Fox 2! Here is their take on an average rehearsal: Fox 2 News Headlines And… Read More

Katie Mann
August 20, 2014

The Detroit Opera House, at the heart of Detroit, is a magnificent architectural structure.  Built as a movie house in 1922 it has undergone several renovations and reinventions throughout the years.  But it is also the site of 4th Wall’s most prestigious camp this summer. Today was our third day of camp where Mark kindly… Read More

Katie Mann
May 19, 2014

Life is full of surprises.  I relish whenever a good one comes along. 4th Wall partnered with the Down Syndrome Support Team in Saline, Mi.  For six weeks our merry band of actors have been learning the parts of the stage, where to look when we say lines, and the three tenets of theatre.  Last… Read More

Katie Mann
April 10, 2014

I am not often nervous.  Being a theatre person I am used to public speaking which comes with a high tolerance for embarrassment.  When my students are nervous I tell them, “Oh, you’ll be fine.  Shake it out.”  But last Tuesday I was the one shaking. I was asked to partake in StartupNation, a radio… Read More

Katie Mann
April 3, 2014

At 4th Wall Theatre Company we teach all of our students three simple rules; be safe, be brave, and always be respectful.  We call them our “words to live by” as they are good guides outside the classroom as well.  Tuesday at our showcase with the Down Syndrome Guild (DSG) our instructors, Molly and Karen… Read More

Katie Mann
March 4, 2014

If you’re familiar with advertising in Metro Detroit, you know summertime Tiger’s baseball isn’t complete without hearing at least one, “Call 1-800-CALL-SAM” commercial.  The lawyer, Sam Bernstein, grew his sole practice into a family law firm with his three children.  When my mother, Diane Mann (aka the Purple Dotter and I went to the POHI/SXI Conference… Read More

Katie Mann
February 5, 2014

As co-founder of 4th Wall Theatre Company I often get asked, “What is 4th Wall?”  A good question.  And as any little theatre student would know the 4th Wall, like the word “theatre,” has two different meanings and spellings. Theatre vs Theater Although not a rule, die-hard thespians will insist there is a distinction between… Read More

Diane Mann
January 15, 2014

Loving Kindness In broad strokes, Part I discussed my thinking on disciplining with loving kindness. It starts with my perspective of being well-balanced and focusing on self-care. From that position of strength flows the patience and ability to teach, guide and help children maximize their potential. Part II discusses a few of the nuts and… Read More

Diane Mann
January 9, 2014

My Brand of Discipline My husband and I were raised by good-hearted parents who, along with their peers in the 1960’s, raised their families with harsher forms of discipline than seems to be the norm today. Yes we learned to respect others, to follow rules and most of us continue leading responsibly productive lives; but… Read More

Katie Mann
December 18, 2013

It is interesting to witness what happens when giving gets set in motion. When one gives, who receives? 4th Wall’s idea was to brighten up the day of some residents at a nearby Sunrise Assisted Living facility. The instructors worked for weeks with the students of the Down Syndrome Guild on learning Christmas carols; complete… Read More

Paul Pyrkosz
December 10, 2013

Imagine walking into a new class on the first day and the room being flooded with sunlight and then magnified by a wall of mirrors. Not every student appreciated all of that light. Some covered their eyes it was so bright. When I met this group a couple months ago, we were a mix of… Read More

Annie Klark
November 20, 2013

Since I was a young child, I’ve always known that there was magic in the theatre. The process of starting a production with nothing and ending up with a stage full of lights, costumes, music, movement, and sound effects is just the beginning. The true “theatre magic” lies in the transformation of actor into character,… Read More

Are you ready for an adorable overload?  Then read on, my friend. An integral pillar of 4th Wall is how the students have a hand in writing the play they perform for family and friends.  Depending on the students’ enthusiasm, or interest, their options include characters and oftentimes motivation.  This week a group of 4th… Read More

Katie Mann
October 9, 2013

Theatre People Theatre people are weird.  I say this as a theatre person — and with great admiration. People who enjoy being on stage are usually self-aware, loud, and oftentimes rambunctious.  If you’ve never met a “theatre person” before it can take some getting used to.  They are often super-busy, juggling multiple jobs and often… Read More

At 4th Wall the co-founders wear many hats. And as self-appointed CEO of Handing Out Random Titles I degreed myself the Official Order-er of Awesome T-shirts. Earlier this month, fulfilling my stoic duties, I ordered a shipment of orchid colored t-shirts. It was a lovely color on my computer screen, I promise. However, when my… Read More

I’m not embarrassed to say it: I am a loud person. People usually hear me before they see me. And once, I’m almost proud to say, my professor of American Sign Language, who is deaf, was startled by my laugh.* * Being a teacher and being loud can happily go hand in hand. Often the… Read More

Katie Mann
September 18, 2013

4th Wall Kids-Speak Do you remember Art Linkletter coining the phrase, followed by Bill Cosby putting his spin on:  Kids say the darndest things?  And how true it is!  A few of my favorite Kids Speak-isms: I overheard a six-year-old boy practicing his flirtation skills with a six-year-old girl, using this catchy opening line, “Did… Read More

Katie Mann
September 11, 2013

There is something magical about Show Day. Paid or recreational actors, students who are typical or have developmental disabilities, there is something different in the air. Excitement. Pride.  Anticipation. Students are usually a combination of nervous and excited. Parents are usually twice as nervous as their children. And us directors? Well, even with our experience we have… Read More