Welcome to Oz
As we prepare for our screening of The Wizard of Oz on Wednesday, November 7th at 7PM, we’re reminded of how important this movie is to the culture of the Prospector Theater.
The original movie theater at 25 Prospect Street (The Ridgefield Playhouse) was under construction in 1939, the same year The Wizard of Oz opened on the silver screen. Audiences, many of whom had never seen color on the screen, marveled at the full technicolor spectrum before them. Dorothy, a lonely orphan, wishes to be somewhere over the rainbow, and learns in this musical fantasy - spoiler alert upcoming! - that she has everything she needs right in her own backyard.
The Prospector Theater is a technicolor spectrum. People with disabilities who dreamed of having jobs, find their sparkle at the Prospector Theater for the first time. We have been open every day since November of 2014, with spectrums of people working together in our movie theater through competitive, meaningful employment. Audiences of yesterday and today are in awe of the layers of possibilities they see in bringing this spectrum to light. Prospects travel the country giving presentations, screening 25 Prospect Street - A Documentary Film, and speaking about the Theater. People marvel at what we do, and they want to see more.
We currently have 120 employees (Prospects), and 70% of us self-identify with a disability. We work over 1,900 hours of meaningful employment every week. People need to take a yellow - or pink - brick road to see the magic we have made by combining moviegoing and competitive employment. Moviegoing is an everyday event at the Prospector Theater, and viewers want to come back and experience our sparkle with others over, and over.
Our culture of respect, high standards, trust, and pride in our work have made the Prospector both a model for disability employment and movie exhibition. We value differences and special talents, which we call sparkle. The Tin-Man, the Lion, and the Scarecrow did not let their “disabilities” stop them from joining Dorothy on her quest. They overcame barriers, tested their personal limits, and found they had what they needed all along. Similarly, Prospects don’t let “disability” stop us. We team up, and use workarounds to accomplish our goals.
Just like recreating the Emerald City is not practical, neither is creating an exact replica of the Prospector Theater. However, everything that anyone would need to create meaningful, competitive employment for adults with disabilities is right in their own backyard. Take a journey to the Prospector in Ridgefield to see The Wizard of Oz, or any movie, and you too can be marveled by the sparkle, and inspired by our mission!