When Kat Morris's eldest daughter asked to try out for a play at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse, she could not have guessed the effect community theater would have on her entire family.
Morris' 12-year-old son, Shilo, has a congenital brain anomaly which "presents itself as a high-functioning Asperger's and autism," Morris said. The anomaly has impacted her son's social skills, causing him to have a social anxiety disorder and selective mutism. However, Morris said that her family's participation at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse has helped to transform her son, teaching him to channel his emotions in a healthy way.
"As he’s been involved, he’s better at expressing his emotions and making friends," Morris said. "Over the summer he was in a show and everyone was just amazed, [wondering] if this was the same kid. He was having fun. He was actually the lead in one of the summer plays. It was really exciting for us to see that change."
But Morris, who home-schools her children, believes the playhouse has been a positive influence on her whole family. "It's been great to have my children in the community to meet other children that have similar interests and to meet a variety of children of different ages from different towns. It's been fun," Morris said.
Additionally, Morris said the Playhouse has equipped her children with a variety of life-skills. "They're learning a lot more than acting. They're learning confidence, how to interact with people and how to express themselves and their emotions in a positive way."
"If we hadn't found the playhouse, our whole lives would be very different," said Morris. "The playhouse has really given us a sense of community."