Oregon Shakespeare Festival employs actors with disabilities

Oregon Shakespeare Festival employs actors with disabilities

[intro music]>>JANE HOGAN:It’s a performing arts organization
or club that pairs teens or kids who experience disabilities with teens that are mentoring
them, to support them to be able to do performing arts activities in whatever their abilities.>>SPEAKER: And they have this at Ashland
High School?>>JANE: They’ve had it at Ashland High School
for now, this is the fourth year.>>ZAHRA: It was a dream I had since I was
like 7. In preschool when Ms. Russell asked us a question about what we’re gonna be when
we grow up. Me, I told her I, I want to be an actress. I got involved with Hairspray
when I was in Project UP club and I was dancing and when Chris Moore saw me dancing, he, well,
he fell in love with my dancing and well, and chose me to be in Hairspray.>>WALKER: I was in the Little Mermaid, Peter
Pan, Phantom Tollbooth.>>LUKE: I got involved with Hairspray through
the Director Chris Moore, he asked me if I would be interested in a part in Hairspray.
I said of course I would love to.>>ORIANA: My buddies.>>LISA TSCHUDI: Your buddies?>>ORIANA: Mm hmm.>>JANE: Luke’s been very blessed with quite
a few miracles in his life, but this is probably one of the most, um, unbelievable of miracles,
you know, we never thought this was something he could even dream about and, you know, I,
I can speak personally but my sense is that it’s been very healing for each of the families.>>LISA: I think that it’s so important for
actors with all kinds of disabilities to be on the stage because bringing everybody to
the theater and I think that first of all not only that other people that have disabilities
that could be in the audience and then relate to the story lines or imagine themselves as
actors or anything like that, but also family members. I believe there’s people that have
come to see each of these actors that are in this room that might not have seen a play
otherwise in a professional theater and loved it, and might be back and, I think that storytelling
matters to everybody and that it’s a a social, communal, human endeavor that belongs to everybody.>>LINDA DETWEILER: Because she’s had this
dream, we tried to find ways for it to happen. But not really realizing, and I think that
shows I put some limitations there, but not really realizing that this could be… There’s
people with abilities out there. They’re in a movie or this, that or the other. But how
many? How are we going to connect to that rare chance? So it has just touched us so
deep in the core. It’s hard to even put it in words.>>SONIA HILL: And I do think that it’s really
impressive when people are like, ‘Oh you’re doing a play!’ and they think that it’s like,
‘Oh, are you, you know, walk on and walk off or something like that?’ It’s like, no, I
have a character and my character has a name, um, my character does more than one thing
and um, and then people are always amazed like, ‘You get paid to do that?’ Yes, it’s
an actual job. And so, yeah, it’s a great way to start a career.>>WALKER: What would I want to do here?>>SONIA: You would want to do something else
here?>>WALKER: Yeah.>>SONIA: Like, like what?>>WALKER: What’s it called, um, back stage.>>SONIA: Maybe something back stage?>>WALKER: Or concessions.>>SONIA: Maybe concessions?>>WALKER: Yeah.>>LINDA: At the
very beginning, I had a little bit of hesitation. You know, at school sometimes maybe we don’t
necessarily buy into what we need to be doing. We don’t put a notebook away and that kind
of stuff. So I was like, ‘Well you can’t do that because this is your job. That’s not
going to work.’ What if, what if. Well, guess what parents? If it’s a goal, if it’s a dream,
if it’s a real job… those what ifs fade away. She has not had one.. she has stepped
so far up to the plate. We haven’t had any of these issues at all. And I’m just so glad
that I didn’t get in her way.>>LUKE: It has been the greatest experience
of my life. I will never forget it. I am 14 and I will start high school in the fall.
Everyone should be included in shows no matter what their disability is. It is important
because people with disabilities feel left out. I feel grateful to be included. [end music]

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