Mixed ability performers laugh the pain away

Listen. Learn. Laugh. These are the titular “Three L’s” of Inside Out Theatre’s latest work.

“It reflects the theme of the production and the impetus that drove its inspiration” says Inside Out’s artistic director and Fast Forward Weekly contributor Andrew Torry.

Inside Out Theatre offers drama education and performance opportunities for people with mixed abilities.

“People with disabilities often find it difficult to find a place on stage. It’s so rare their voices are heard or that their experiences are brought forward. We want to find a platform for them to share their ideas and to promote the role of people with mixed abilities in contributing to the artistic dialogue” explains Torry.

He says Inside Out’s scriptwriting group — who composed “The Three L’s” over the past six months — asked themselves the question “If you could be onstage and you could say anything you wanted to someone who hurt you what would you say?”

“We all want to be heard. We hope people will become more mindful of themselves and each other” he adds.

The cast of seven will present a series of 10 scenes that all share the theme of listening learning and laughing.

One scene is an adaptation of an old folk tale that sees a young fellow of modest means helping an old beggar woman whom no one else is willing to assist because of her age and seeming unimportance. Of course she turns out to have magical powers and because of the stranger’s kindness grants him a wish.

Another dramatizes one member’s experience of getting harassed while on a city bus. The writers however introduced some lightness and humour into the situation.

“Life sucks at times but the important part is to find a way to not brood and to move past it. One way to do that is through laughter…. We look at the situation and say ‘This happened but is there something we can find funny about it? Can we take this theme and perform it onstage in a way that makes it less debilitating less tragic?’” Torry explains.

Along with the scripted scenes the one-hour-long show will also involve some improvisational work in the form of positive/negative scenarios in which one person finds himself in a negative situation (e.g. the welfare office) when an optimistic character enters the picture and offers some encouragement.

“These seven people are some of the funniest people you will meet…. You will be surprised how often some of the things they say will connect to you move you and make you laugh regardless of whether you have a disability or not” says Torry.