By David Schuman

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A St. Paul theater company for artists with disabilities is helping keep one couple’s relationship alive during the pandemic.

Sam Videen, of Roseville, and Jule Moench, of Minneapolis, have been together two and-a-half years. Sam is on the autism spectrum, but high functioning. Jule has Down Syndrome.

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“Sam is very accepting of me and who I am,” Jule said. “He’s very understanding. He makes me feel inspired.”

So you can imagine how difficult it’s been for these two not to have seen each other the entire pandemic. Nearly 11 months.

“It’s been really hard,” Jule said.

They stay connected though through video dates and virtual rehearsals, as Sam and Jule are performers. They act, sing and dance for St. Paul’s Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts.

“They’re both great comic actors. They have that in common,” said Jeanne Calvit, the director and founder of Interact Center.

Interact is a touring, professional theater for artists with disabilities. They practice what Calvit calls “radical inclusion.” For almost a year, that work’s had to be done virtually.

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“It’s nice to see everyone’s faces and still see your friends,” Sam said.

Sam and Jule’s connection to Interact goes back even further. This is also where they met.

“That was a match made in heaven,” Jule said.

The day they have planned when they can finally see each other again sounds pretty heavenly, too.

“We’d like to see each other at the Rose Garden and maybe have some ice cream at Lake Harriet,” Sam said.

In June, Interact’s new, original show will debut on Zoom. It’s a love story specifically written to star Sam and Jule.

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David Schuman