This is the Point
When: Jan. 29 – Feb. 2
Where: Cultch Historic Theatre
Tickets: from $24 at tickets.thecultch.com
This is the Point is about people with disabilities. But it’s primary purpose is to be honest, not inspirational.
“It’s a question of representation,” Ahuri Theatre’s Dan Watson said.
“You don’t see a lot of representations of people who experience disability. For a lot of people, it’s really great to see that. It’s not inspirational porn; it’s not about being inspiring. It’s trying to show their lives the way they’re experiencing them.
The struggles and triumphs of four people whose lives have been shaped, in part, by cerebral palsy, is at the heart of the show.
A co-production of Ahuri Theatre and The Theatre Centre, This is the Point premiered in 2016. The PuSh Festival run in Vancouver, and an Ontario tour before that, marks its first appearances outside of Toronto.
The show was inspired by Bruno, the eldest child of Watson and his partner Christina Serra. Bruno has cerebral palsy and is non-verbal.
“Christina and I got interested in how we could work with him and other kids or adults like him to offer a different way to express themselves through theatre,” Watson said.
Through working on different projects they met Tony Diamanti, who also has cerebral palsy.
“We invited him to participate in some of our projects but he said, ‘no, I’ve got a script I’ve written about my life, and I’d like you guys to look at it and see if we could work together.’ Liz (MacDougall, Diamanti’s partner) came along to support him. We began sharing stories, and it became less Tony’s story and more about all of our stories.”
The result is a collaboration between Watson, Serra, Diamanti, MacDougall, and director Karin Randoja.
Watson calls This is the Point “a bunch of stories and conversations glued together.”
“We follow the script, but allow ourselves the opportunity to go off or change if something’s happening in the room. We can acknowledge if something happens and move on. It may be the same way with our audience as well. Things are going to happen that you might not expect. And that’s OK.”
Playing versions of themselves, Watson, Serra, Diamanti and MacDougall originally performed the show: Watson and Serra as parents searching for the best way to help their disabled son, Diamanti as a non-verbal adult who nonetheless has plenty to say, and MacDougall (who also has cerebral palsy) as his longtime romantic partner.
A series of staged conversations and theatrical re-enactments dramatize events and conflicts in their lives and opens up the conversation to explore and debate questions around disability. (In the current production Serra, who dropped out before a 2017 remount, is present in pre-recorded video.)
The show comes with trigger warnings, including “violence and simulated sexuality.”
“There are a couple of scenes that can be triggering, especially for the disability community,” Watson said.
“At one point I play Tony’s attendant. After Tony fired him he came back and physically assaulted him (Tony). That can be triggering.”
Another scene involves Diamanti’s first sexual encounter, when a woman at a party gives him acid and sexually assaults him.
The show is frank about sexuality, and includes a scene where Diamanti and MacDougall go to a fetish event.
“Sexuality is a big part of their partnership. They’re sexual beings. People might assume that people who are disabled are not sexual people, and they very much are.”
Reactions to the play from the disability community have been positive, Watson says.
“When we were making the show, I thought, ‘well maybe this is a show for people who haven’t had a lot of experience with disability.’ I still think they can get a lot out of it. But also it’s resonating with people who experience disability directly, and the circle around them, their friends and family, and people they associate with.
“Disability touches so many different people. Chances are, everybody has connections to the disability community it some way.”
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