Submitter and Co-author information

Elissa Weir, University of WindsorFollow

Standing

Undergraduate

Type of Proposal

Media/Film Presentation

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Michelle MacArthur

Abstract/Description of Original Work

When one is asked to think about going to the theatre, the image tends to be the similar: taking steps to sit in a darkened room to watch and listen to a show for approximately 2 hours in relative silence. This experience, however, carries numerous barriers for disabled audiences. While many theatres provide disabled seating, this is the absolute minimum and unhelpful to many disabled patrons. There is a wide range of disabilities, and the accommodations for those disabilities are just as varied. It is worth taking time to examine what has already been done to accommodate different disabilities by previous theatre productions or troupes, as well as the emergence of digital theatre and its benefits when it comes to accommodations. In particular, digital theatre is more versatile and can be adapted by individuals to suit their needs. This study will take the form of a video essay, and introduce and give an overview of the underrepresented area of accessibility in theatre. The video will incorporate disability studies theory, such as academic work by Jessica Watkins, and studying audience interviews I helped conduct from The Stream You Step In, a digital theatre performance held by the University Players in 2020. With help from digital theatre, there is now time to rethink accessibility in theatre and theatre spaces so that it can be implemented in in-person performances after the threat of the pandemic has passed.

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Stepping Out of the Stream: How Theatre Needs to Adapt for Disabled Audiences

When one is asked to think about going to the theatre, the image tends to be the similar: taking steps to sit in a darkened room to watch and listen to a show for approximately 2 hours in relative silence. This experience, however, carries numerous barriers for disabled audiences. While many theatres provide disabled seating, this is the absolute minimum and unhelpful to many disabled patrons. There is a wide range of disabilities, and the accommodations for those disabilities are just as varied. It is worth taking time to examine what has already been done to accommodate different disabilities by previous theatre productions or troupes, as well as the emergence of digital theatre and its benefits when it comes to accommodations. In particular, digital theatre is more versatile and can be adapted by individuals to suit their needs. This study will take the form of a video essay, and introduce and give an overview of the underrepresented area of accessibility in theatre. The video will incorporate disability studies theory, such as academic work by Jessica Watkins, and studying audience interviews I helped conduct from The Stream You Step In, a digital theatre performance held by the University Players in 2020. With help from digital theatre, there is now time to rethink accessibility in theatre and theatre spaces so that it can be implemented in in-person performances after the threat of the pandemic has passed.