What is it about the idea of professional inclusive theatre that is so exciting?

Image description: Talleri A. McRae sits on stage in a read chair talking to an audience holding a hand held microphone up to her mouth. Behind her is a concrete brick wall. She is wearing blue jeans and a black blouse with an embroidered floral print.

Image description: Talleri A. McRae sits on stage in a read chair talking to an audience holding a hand held microphone up to her mouth. Behind her is a concrete brick wall. She is wearing blue jeans and a black blouse with an embroidered floral print.

For me, it’s not the moral resolve or social gesture of inclusion that makes my heart pound.  It's the fact that including artists with disabilities invites designers, directors, and all theatre makers to set about their work with new and different tools. Disability is a boundary, a parameter that catalyzes creativity.  

Why is that so? Because disability is a powerful storyteller in and of itself. Its specificity of difference proves universal among us all. In other words, disability identity paradoxically embraces our collective individuality. My friend Kevin Kling would say disability is “a mythic foot in two worlds.” By making the disability paradox visible-- nay visceral-- for an audience, the paradox of the underlying story awakens like never before.

I have loved the telling of stories for as long as I can remember. In the last decade, I have set to learn as much as I can about disability theatre. Indeed, companies in Denver, Minneapolis, Washington DC, New York, and elsewhere are already saying YES to artists with disabilities on stage. Yet with the emergence of a National Disability Theatre, this kind of work work need not exist in separate pockets, disconnected from each other. We need not continue to fall prey to a business model that only values creativity on stage, yet demands efficiency over expression in every other part of the process.

In contrast, NDT, a professional theatre company, will embrace the community, culture, and creativity of disability throughout every single step of the artistic process. Show selection, hiring, design, auditions, callbacks, rehearsals, and performances will be as accessible as possible for every single professional in the room. Accommodation will lead to innovation and you will see stories told like never before. Just thinking about it starts my head spinning. Oh, it will be extremely messy—and supremely exciting.  

I can’t wait to tell stories, in this way, with you.

Talleri A. McRae