This Friday night at Moncton’s Crossman Community Centre, playwright Paul Power, who also serves as the Artistic Director of Hub City Theatre, will be presenting a reading of his next production, Crippled.
The play explores themes of both visible and invisible disabilities, something that Power is intimately familiar, as he is physically disabled, and requires leg braces and clutches for mobility issues stemming from a rare form of spina bifida.
While exploring the themes of disabilities via a stage production is not a new endeavour for Power – Roomies, one of Hub City Theatre’s previous productions successfully explored the topic – he admits that Crippled takes a look at the darker side of being disabled.
“The place takes place over the course of one evening and sees my character, Tony, contemplating life and whether he wants to continue living it,” Power says. “It examines how his physical disability has impacted not only his sense of self worth, but also his confidence. Additionally though, the production also looks at events in his life – lost love, grief, career, missed opportunities – that serve to show that feeling crippled is not limited strictly to a physical disability.”
Power says that while 2016’s Roomies explored a potentially lighter side of being disabled, telling the tale of a mismatched pair of college roommates, he is ultimately hoping to draw attention to the lack of prominent roles afforded to those with disabilities.
He shares that while he has felt nothing but welcome among his peers since arriving in Moncton in 2010, across the board acceptance isn’t as common as people might like to believe.
Power says that after having had the opportunity to attend a conference on disability issues in Ottawa, he realized that Hubcity Theatre was considerably more progressive than many other theatre groups from across Canada.
When researching the prevalence of minority inclusion among theatre groups across Canada, Power found representation strongest in Ontario, B.C., and Alberta, but found little to no support in provinces east of Ontario.
“When applying for a grant to stage Crippled, I noted a number of publications didn’t have essential information on the inclusion of disabled persons in theatre in areas other than those three provinces,” he says.
“What I took away from that research is that it’s not enough for theatre groups to say they are accessible. They need to make a conscious effort of reaching out to people rather than waiting for them to come to you.”
Earlier this year, Power staged a reading of Crippled for audiences in his hometown of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Although initially nervous about the darker tones contained in the production, he says the audience feedback was overwhelmingly positive and appeared to strike a number of emotional chords along the way.
“Having these sessions where we can give the public a glimpse at what we are working on, are invaluable, really. Not just for the reassurance that we are taking the play in the right direction, but also for continuity and ensuring everything makes sense every step of the way.”
While Friday’s event is free and open to the public, Power recommends attendees be over the age of 16.
What: Crippled: Table Read and Discussion
When: Friday March 31, 7 p.m.
Where: Crossman Community Centre, 99 Wynwood Dr., Moncton
Admission is free but seating is limited. RSVP via email at email@example.com