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The Company


Combined Efforts is a visual and performing arts company with a mission of artistic excellence through purposeful collaboration between artists with and without disabilities.


Our goal is simple; performances in which disability drops from consideration as a result of the combined efforts of a diverse group of individuals.

Principles: Facilitate collaboration between artists with and without physical and mental challenges.

Foster Company connections with community groups.

Actively seek participation by individuals with disabilities in Combined Efforts (CE).

Focus on Ensemble-driven original or adapted scripts.

Promote growth and learning in voice, movement, and expressive skills of all participants.

Present high quality and entertaining performances and shows.

Company Members have won: The Richard Maibaum Human Rights Award, Iowa City’s Isabelle Turner Human Rights Award, and the Finkbine Award for Human Rights. In 2013 CET was offered a contract by the Kennedy Center, Washington DC, to provide playwriting workshops throughout the area in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Combined Efforts programs are supported in part by a grant from the Johnson County Foundation.


Combined Efforts was founded in 2002 by Janet Schlapkohl, then a special education teacher at City High School in Iowa City. Students in her classroom displayed dramatic talents that only needed an opportunity for performance so she wrote an adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, tailored to their skills and opened auditions to all students. The show was presented in the Little Theater at City High. She was assured that there wouldn’t be a very big audience but soon carts of extra chairs were frantically set up five minutes before the show opened to a bursting house.

In 2009 CE  had assumed non-profit, section 501(c)(3) status, and expanded to include members of all ages from the local and nearby communities. The season went from one play a year to three major productions and two smaller shows. The Company now performs in various venues both indoors and outdoors in the area. A long range goal is to find a permanent home for all of the Company activities and performances.

The Men’s Choir and the Dance Team formed in  2012.  They perform at large and small gatherings and are a part of the Theatre Company productions.  Recent Additions include The Writer’s Group, Expressive Arts and Ulterior Motifs.