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.
With My Group Scene Partner, Aria Law
With Richmond Youth Honour Choir
Working creatively with children could be so rewarding. I understood this while collaborating with Richmond Youth Honour Choir in the play, Ridiculous Darkness. Having children as co-performers had imbued me and other cast members with their liveliness. I couldn’t give up when those much younger gave off so much passionate energy.
Out of all the rehearsals in 2017, I remember the one on Wednesday, November 1st most vividly with joy. It was the day after the Halloween and the whole company enjoyed numerous lollipops, the leftovers from the the day before. It may seem trivial, but getting treats boosted everyone’s morale while we rehearsed the group scenes. My partner, Aria Law got me a lemon lollipop and I licked it to oblivion during the break!
It is always good to feel like a child again.
With the Only Animal Member of the Cast
“Thank you for calling me. I would be happy to be an audience member.”
“Wait a minute, no! We want you on the stage! As an actor!”
Sometimes an opportunity comes when you least expect it. That’s what happened to me in the summer of 2017. To participate in a theatre production was not part of my plan and I thank Daniel Arnold, the Producer of Ridiculous Darkness, for not giving on me.
It’s ironic that I thought he wanted me as an audience member, not an actor, when we met for the first time at Roundhouse Community Centre in Vancouver’s Abilities Expo. After the phone call, I realized this could be a priceless, once in a lifetime opportunity for me!
Of course, I got paid for participating, but the money was only a part of it. The total sum of what I have gotten by playing the role of a farmer, along with other people with disabilities, is incalculable. I must write about the whole experience and share it with other people.
Being on stage to play a role in Ridiculous Darkness was an adventure because I had to step way out of my comfort zone and devote myself to the task. It was my first time. Memorizing my lines took a lot of practice. Even more difficult was summoning the courage to speak them out loud in front of other people. I did it with my team during the rehearsals, and while facing the audience during the performances.
After that I felt proud and that pride was well-earned.
Remembering a Gruelling Winter
Snow in Suter Brook Village
Port Moody City Hall Yard
To be trapped is a terrifying experience. Last winter was the worst I have ever experienced. For one week, I was trapped in my home, unable to get out and do my usual activity. The neighborhood was besieged by snow and ice. By the fifth day, I shouted, “Mother Nature! Stop being a frosty bitch!”
I was being tested to my limit by a force far beyond my control.
My mother heard me shouting and scolded: “Son, I am a mother too. Do not insult another one when I am at home.” However, I sensed that she was half-joking, dealing with a situation as frustrating to her as it was to me. We’d decided to live in Port Moody because of its mild climate, but Mother Nature caught us off guard. It was as if she had gotten she got bored with rainy winters.
To add to the frustration, the city of Port Moody was inept in accommodating seniors and people with mobility issues and assistive devices. Thin sheets of ice and snow covered my usual routes, and I had to drive so carefully to avoid slippery spots since they couldn’t clear the sidewalks well enough for my wheelchair to get up and around.
We didn’t know how to deal with what was perhaps a usual winter for the rest of Canada, but was a tiring one for us.