Tag Archives: theatre

Recommended Reading for 10 December, 2010

Well, if it isn’t Friday again. I suppose it is for you, readers of the future, but I am writing this from Tuesday, in the past! Such is the power of the blog’s scheduling function.

Gentle reader, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

An Actor Finds Truth & Power Negotiating her Vision Loss by Marilee Talkington guest posting at Brains of Minerva. Extremely relevant to this disabled actor’s interests, and a pretty wonderful piece in any case.

So I decided I wouldn’t tell the directors or anyone on the casting end that I was visually impaired. Which always felt like a betrayal. And I would show up as early as I needed to to re-write the entire script by hand in large print.  I hadn’t learned how to vocally advocate for myself yet in a way that didn’t feel angry or demanding, so at times I flat out lied. I remember calling an audition hotline once using a different name and asked if someone who was visually impaired could get the script ahead of time to memorize.  I was told that they couldn’t because it would pose an unfair advantage over the other actors.

Why CART in Government? by Martha Galindo at CCAC In Action:

1. Good government leads the way for all its citizens by setting best standards for equality and inclusion.

2. To reduce discriminatory gaps which now still exclude many able citizens (who happen to be deaf, deafened, or have a hearing loss, or who need quality text for many other good reasons) from regular and important government meetings, workshops, rallies, advisory committees, and public input to city, state, or federal bodies.

Lene Anderson at The Seated View: Disability Time

So there I am, sitting in the waiting room a full hour and half before my appointment and although I had a book, I was annoyed, so instead I started thinking about Disability Time. You don’t find it mentioned much in Google in the way it’s used in the disability world, but maybe some day, it’ll make its way into search engines. Disability Time refers to the way in which most things take much longer when you have a disability. There is personal Disability Time, as in it probably takes me double the time to make a cup of hot water in the microwave that it would you and then there is the Disability Time that’s imposed by others and there are a couple of those.

Donna Jodham: Out of sight out of mind

A few months ago I had a meeting with some officials of a financial institute to discuss making more financial planning services available to blind and sight impaired persons and at that time I raised the issue of making information available in alternate formats such as Braille, large print, and electronic text. To my chagrin but not to my surprise, the officials admitted that they had never thought of doing so. I also had a similar meeting with a major supermarket chain in Toronto to discuss making their weekly specials more available to their blind and sight impaired customers either online or through a phone service and again, I was told that this had not been thought of up until now.

Claudia Dreyfus for the New York Times: A conversation with Julian L. Seifter, Nephrologist and Patient. It’s an interesting interview with a physician, Dr. Julian Seifter, who just cowrote a book on living with chronic illness.

Q. Has being a patient helped you be a doctor?
A. I’ve certainly learned things I’ve brought back to the clinic. I have a retinopathy, for instance, which can be a complication of diabetes. I don’t have good vision in my right eye, as a result. When this first happened, I said to my ophthalmologist, “I can’t lose vision. I need to read.” And he said, “Any vision is better than no vision.”
That was important. I started thinking, “Concentrate on things you still can do and develop some new things.” I’ve since started gardening, which doesn’t require the most acute vision. It’s something I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. I counsel my patients to replace what they’ve lost with something new.

Send your links to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com. Let us know if/how you want to be credited. And have yourself a fabulous weekend.

Video: Deaf Actress Shoshannah Stern On Her Role In ‘Children of a Lesser God’

I think it’s pretty well known around here that I have a huge crush on Shoshannah Stern, who appeared in Deaf West‘s production of Children of a Lesser God last year as Sarah, the role made famous by fellow Deaf actress Marlee Matlin (on whom I also have a huge crush). Sadly, the run of the play is long over, but this interview is still relevant and interesting, so I thought I’d share it!

Shoshannah Stern, a young Deaf woman, Signs throughout this video (transcript is of the subtitles, any errors mine!).

This role means the most to Deaf theatre, I think. It really put Deaf theatre on the map. It opened doors and made people interested in Deaf culture. They were willing to see Sign and Deaf people on stage. The door opened to Broadway, the Tonys, and of course the film with Marlee Matlin. I remember the day she won her Oscar. And now it feels like an honour to be able to play that role now.

I had the perception that the play was geared for hearing audiences, not for Deaf audiences. That it taught the hearing audience what Deaf people were all about, what Sign Language was. The director says many times this play inspired people to Sign and teach Sign Language. I understand why Deaf people feel frustrated about that and they want it to be Signed fluently without that feeling of responsibility. But I feel that responsibility is a blessing: to be able to get both audiences to enjoy the show. I think that if it’s done right, I don’t think we have to sacrifice anything. I don’t think the Deaf audience should feel they missed out. Especially now, because we’re doing a modern take on the play and it’s more accessible. Almost everything is Signed.

The problem I have is that many times in the script, Sarah says ‘what?’ a lot, but now I understand what’s said. I think it’s made interesting by today’s lens and with the ADA, with more awareness of theatre, Sign Language, and Deaf theatre availability. I think this play is more accessible than ever. The idea that ASL was a recognised language hadn’t come about. Now ASL has become more mainstream. People know about it, and it’s cool. So I think there’s more wiggle room for creative use of ASL, while remaining loyal to the script. We can be more creative with the language.

I am grateful for our director, because he understands the play so well. He knows what’s under the rock and the intent. ‘Mark Medoff really meant that, not this.’ Fascinating. What happened on Broadway, and why the line was written that way. Many times he’ll correct himself and say that this line really meant that, not this. It feels like he’s an encyclopedia on the play.

Myself, I will feel really frustrated sometimes. I’ll arrive home angry because people didn’t understand me. But never to the extremes that Sarah does. So I felt it was too…but once I went there, it really felt like she had a reason for that anger. That anger comes from hurt. She’s a very hurt person and she tries to explain why. And once I felt that, I really cherished Sarah and I realised that she was an emotionally intelligent person and tried to open up but no one gave her the chance to. I respect where she comes from and I am grateful for what we have today, and I realise we have a lot more ahead of us. We have to keep fighting, and that will never stop. Some things are still the same no matter how much things have changed since then.

If you’re interested in seeing Ms. Stern in action, she’s currently on Lie To Me, and she’s also teaching a workshop on ASL storytelling this 4 December at the Deaf West theatre in North Hollywood. Voice interpretation is available.

Seven reactions to reviews of Rachel Axler’s “Smudge”

On-stage scene from the play. A man and woman stand looking into a pram, the woman with a many-limbed plush toy. The pram has a wild series of tubes and wires snaking out of it.

I’ve been shaking my head over the press for Rachel Axler’s new hipster-ableist play, Smudge. Here’s a lightning tour, with my response

s at the end. Emphases are mine.

In ‘Smudge,’ Baby’s disabled, and mom’s not much better, from Newsday:

Most couples look at the sonogram of their impending baby to see whether it’s a boy or a girl. But when Colby and her husband, Nick, scrutinize the picture of the life in her womb for an answer to the “what is it?” question, they are appalled to realize that they mean it. Literally.

Rachel Axler’s “Smudge,” the very dark 90-minute comedy at the Women’s Project, aims to be part horror movie, part domestic relationship drama. Their baby, a girl, arrives unbearably deformed, with no limbs and one big eye. Nick (Greg Keller) bonds with the unseen character in the pram encircled with tubes, and names her Cassandra. Colby (Cassie Beck, in another of her achingly honest performances) attempts to protect herself from the agony through brutal humor, maniacally snipping the arms off baby clothes and taunting the “smudge” until “it” miraculously responds. Or does it? […]

BOTTOM LINE The unthinkable, faced with wit but not enough depth

More, from Variety:

Title comes from the first word that comes to mind when Colby (Cassie Beck) gets a glimpse of her infant daughter, grotesquely described as having no arms or legs, an undeveloped skeletal structure and only one (beautiful, luminous blue-green) eye in her misshapen head.

More, from Time Out New York:

She is nearly indescribably deformed: a purple-grey mass of flesh and hair, with a single, disconcertingly beautiful Caribbean Sea–colored eye. Her horrified mother, Colby (Beck), describes the child as looking “Sort of like a jellyfish. Sort of like something that’s been erased.”

More, from SF Examiner:

Continue reading Seven reactions to reviews of Rachel Axler’s “Smudge”