Disability in Theatre

This series explores issues of diversity, accessibility, exposure, and inclusion in the American theatre.

Wheelock Family Theatre logo.
How Accessibility Works at the Wheelock Family Theatre
Essay

How Accessibility Works at the Wheelock Family Theatre

10 April 2014

We did "Pippi", and we had American Sign Language interpretation every weekend. This is because Wendy Lement, the producer at Wheelock, directed the play herself, and wanted the interpreters to be integrated with the cast. They were signing performers, rather than interpreters. They were each assigned a character in the cast, had their own blocking, and dressed to blend in onstage. "Pippi" was unusual in that the interpreters/sign performers rehearsed with the cast from day one until the opening night. They started from scratch, not knowing who the characters are, and worked alongside the cast to develop them. (This interview was conducted in ASL, and was translated and edited by Ariel Baker-Gibbs.)

Americans With Disabilities Act Logo.
Celebrating Our Imperfections
Essay

Celebrating Our Imperfections

A Conversation with Adina Tal of Israel’s Nalaga’at Center

10 April 2014

In this installment of the Disability in Theatre seriesKevin Becerra interviews Adina Tal, Founder and Artisitc Director of  Nalaga’at Center in Tel Aviv, on her production of Not by Bread Alone

Widening the Embrace of Theater
Essay

Widening the Embrace of Theater

The Different Forms of Accessibility

10 April 2014

The Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston was started by four people: Andrea Genser, Susan Kosoff, Jane Staab, and Tony Hancock. The mission of the theatre was to make a professional theater that would be accessible to everyone, with a multicultural cast, with black, yellow, white, green people. When you start defining people by color, just pull in green and blue and orange, like the Muppets. We just want to widen our embrace. The priority was to be affordable, but from the start, we would always have a show that was interpreted. That was in 1981, and we worked with a lot of people to make that happen. Audio description started around 1990 at Imagination Stage, and Wheelock Family Theatre was drawn to it, as we wanted to cast a wider net, and include blind people.

Disability in American Theater
Essay

Disability in American Theater

Where is the Tipping Point?

7 April 2014

Not only is the portrayal of disability by a non-disabled actor equivalent to blackface—what we in the disability community derisively call “cripping up” (pretending to have a disability)—universally accepted as a technical skill tucked away in an actor’s bag of tricks, it is always applauded and more often than not, rewarded. 16 percent of Academy Award winners have received the coveted statue for playing a character with a disability; just two of those winners were disabled actors. If you think this phenomenon exists only in Hollywood, consider the 2013-14 New York theater season.

Where Do We Look? Going to the Theater as a Deaf Person
Essay

Where Do We Look? Going to the Theater as a Deaf Person

6 April 2014

Ariel Baker-Gibbs sheds light on the accessibility of theatre to a deaf audience.

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Series are collections of content curated around a specific theme. HowlRound works with curators to develop topical pieces meant to spotlight current events and happenings within the commons.