I did not plan to be transported by Disability Artivism Across the Flyover Provinces, but I was. At the registration table we were invited to choose red, yellow, or green dots to put on our name tags to signify how much interaction or engagement we wanted on that particular day. Those same name tags also welcomed us to the possibilities of gender identity. From the first moment of the opening address, when University of Regina Elder-in-Residence Lorna Standingready named her skin colour as a disability in a province where racism rules, I found myself in a new place of deeper perception and connections. A place where closed captioning, ASL interpretation, and Crip Time were normative.
Kirsty Johnston, a disability performance researcher and associate professor in the Department of Theater and Film at the University of British Columbia, was the keynote speaker. She took us through time, showing how disability has been represented and presented in theatre, and how these representations and presentations have been challenged and changed over time.
The morning panel of Traci Foster, John Loeppky, Kelsey Culbert, Joanne Weber , and Chelsea Jones addressed a wide range of topics. Traci Foster named some of the challenges facing actors with disabilities. For example, actors with disabilities are often expected to only play parts that are about disability, and work for less than the regular rates. Actors with disabilities are often typecast and not perceived as someone to audition for a role in a Shakespeare play or some other play.
The jam session with Dr. Helen Pridmore and the A! Student Researchers added vitality and fun to the day. At one point Mustafa Alabssi of Deaf Crows conducted the symposium participants (see photo above) and the room was alive with vocal sounds and laughter. Thank you to everyone who made this day possible. Please see the event brochure for a list of event supporters and sponsors and check out photos from the day. (Brenda MacLauchlan)
PHOTO: Mustafa Alabssi