The Acting Academy for Autism

Gold Coast Theatre Conservatory


The Acting Academy for Autism

Scene Study *Monologues *Movement

How to Audition *Voice *Theatre History *Master Classes *Playwriting

(805) 427-5314

Classes held at

43 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd. (next to Big 5)

at Moorpark Road In The Discovery Center

The Acting Academy for Autism is a serious theatre program for the young person with high functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.  We do not refer to autism as a disorder. We are not therapists or psychologists or celebrities.  We are theatre teachers who have been working with young people for decades.  Along the way, we have encountered children with autism who came alive on stage.

This course has been designed by a group of wonderful minds, including teachers who are credentialed in special needs, adults who have autism, student teachers, and theatre training professionals.  We created the Acting Academy for Autism so we could honor the sensibilities of young people with autism and provide a safe and fun atmosphere in which they can study theatre.  We do not make videos or movies.  We make theatre!


We start with theatre and work our way from there.

Acting classes break down social-emotional skills into separate and smaller skills upon which they can build.  If a person can learn to recognize and then portray real social-emotional cues they can begin to understand what others are thinking and feeling.  Then they can move on to what others MEAN, or INTEND.  Finally, they can have real social exchanges that help them to work, make friends and have relationships.

Yes, students will gain some greater abilities to overcome social challenges.  Yes, young people will gain self-confidence, learn to trust and learn to allow others to trust them.  This is no different from any other good acting class.

During the final class, the students will showcase their work: scenes, monologues and theatre history, along with original pieces that they write. Material comes from standard, published plays from 400 BC to the twenty-first century.  The Acting Academy for Autism is an activity of Gold Coast Theatre Conservatory, offering year-round classes in all aspects of theatre arts.

In order to create a successful program, classes are capped at ten students, with three teachers per class.  Unfortunately, we are unable to provide individual teaching assistants and students are expected to respect the rules of the Academy. Each student will attend an interview before enrolling.

The SPRING SESSION on Mondays at 4:00 – 5:30 (January 30 – April 23) is already full.
The Spring Session is a twelve week course.  There will be no classes on February 20.  FEE:  $350

Due to high demand there could be an ADDITIONAL SPRING SESSION on Tuesdays between 5:00 – 6:30 and will begin in a few weeks.  If you are interested contact Gold Coast Theatre as soon as possible to register your interest.  Class size is limited to 10 students.




Gold Coast is also seeking high school students interested in working in the classroom as peer mentors and aides.

Founding Artistic Director Stephanie Wilson has taught over 500 young people since 1980. Also a playwright, her original musicals have been performed at the Taper in Los Angeles and Covent Gardens in London and her plays for children have been seen by tens of thousands of schoolchildren. Stephanie has produced and directed for The Olympic Arts Festival, Cabrillo Music Theatre and Young Artists Ensemble.

Stephanie volunteers by serving on the Cultural Affairs Commission for the City of Thousand Oaks and is past chair of the California Alliance for Arts Education, the Ventura County Arts Council and the Thousand Oaks Arts Commission. She currently serves on the boards for the Santa Barbara Music & Arts Conservatory and the Alzheimer’s Assistance Fund.

Billy Parish is a graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, The National Theater Institute, the Moscow Art Theater, The Ballroom Dance Academy, and holds a bachelor in Theater from Occidental College. He holds an advanced certificate with high recommendation from the British Society of Fight Directors and is a certified Ballroom teacher through the Dance Vision International Dance Association. He has taught students of all ages. Most recently he worked with Dancing with the Stars dancer Tony Dovolani to bring ballroom to elementary schools, and with the Ballroom Dance Channel as lead producer of their Superstars of Ballroom Dance Camp.

Elizabeth Angelini received her degree from Pitzer College and completed Levels I and II Credential as an Education Specialist in Mild/Moderate Disabilities.  Elizabeth has been teaching since 2003 at The Help Group in Sherman Oaks, Tulsa Street Elementary School in Granada Hills, Passageway School in Newbury Park and The Dubnoff Center in North Hollywood.  Elizabeth was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when she was 12 years old, and found studying theatre to be an excellent creative outlet.


Since 1994 Gold Coast Theatre Conservatory has been giving young people a solid foundation in the basics of theatre.  These classes are for the student who values creative expression and supports the powerful idea of process over performance.  Classes focus on training, tools and a classic approach to true character development.  Students are urged to act, not perform.  Here, theatre is a group activity, a team sport, a publicly shared journey into worthwhile material and into the self.

In 1995, The Conservatory staged “OUR TOWN”: the very first production with young actors at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.  Since then, The Conservatory has staged dozens of productions for both schoolchildren and family audiences at the Civic Arts Plaza, and countless others in venues throughout Ventura County. Over 500 young people have trained at The Conservatory.

Gold Coast Theatre Conservatory is a Not- for-profit organization and a division of Gold Coast Performing Arts Association tax ID 77-0031586

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One thought on “The Acting Academy for Autism

  1. Fascinating approach to teaching social skills to our kids with HF autism and aspergers. I am a theater teacher with 14 yr old son with Aspergers. Several teachers at our studio are breaking away to start our own endeavor, burned out by the profit driven kids’ theater business and looking to return to the reason we started teaching in the first place. Our first event is going to be an interactive “Heroes & Villains” musical theatre show for Families for Effective Autism Treatment here in Las Vegas at Sport-Social. I would love to learn more about your program. It sounds like the direction we would like to go.

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