The Door to the Stage: A Barrier
With My Team of Actors with Disabilities
With My Guest of Honor, Fiona York
As a person with disability, playing a role in the play The Ridiculous Darkness was daunting. My team encountered many issues as we worked on the play. My biggest setback was the theatre’s accessibility.
While it had an elevator, the only automated door was in front of the building. The theatre had many heavy wooden doors. Someone had to hold a door open for me every time I came in and out of the stage. A cast-mate hurt his foot while doing so and I wondered how many people would come to see the show and find the building inaccessible. The situation frustrated me. Automated doors should be mandatory for all buildings.
When my adapted yoga class came to see a performance, they had difficulty with accessing the space. My friends had seats on the top row, and they had to get there by the elevator or up the narrow and dark stairway. The group had to separate to find their seats and then regroup at the end. The traffic in the theatre made this even more challenging. After the show, one of the group pointed out that dimly lit walkways and only one elevator are potential fire hazards in a big theatre. An accessible walkway would have made it much easier.
I, on the other hand, had little time to think about the inaccessibility because of work. The stage staff and other actors opened the doors and removed any obstacles on the stage. By the end of the first week, my frustration turned to grudging acceptance. Focusing on the goal of being a good actor instead of dwelling on what obstacles, I overcame physical barriers in a theatre with other people’s help, and my determination to make the project successful grew.
Living with disabilities is often about dealing with the stress that daily barriers cause you. My brief time as an actor taught me that relying on other people, who share the same goal, is a way to deal with that very real and unpleasant struggle.
Many Thanks to the Kyle Centre Creative Writing Group in Port Moody and Jordan Cripps of Connectra and Daniel Arnold of Alley Theatre for their help and support.