Thursday, February 7, 2008

Theater by the Blind changes its name

The 29-year-old Theater by the Blind (TBTB) in New York City has changed its name to Theater Breaking Through Barriers.

The TBTB Web site says it changed its name "to reflect its commitment to include all artists with disabilities in its work, onstage, backstage, in the office and in the audience. As baby boomers age, more and more Americans will be dealing with disability. 52,000,000 of us, 18%, already do. Yet only 2% of characters on television exhibit a disability and only 0.5% are allowed to speak."

TBTB wants to put the reality of the rich, independent lives of all people with disabilities in front of audiences. The company's theatrical offerings in 2007 worked toward that goal. "'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' featured an actress in a wheelchair, which The New York Times said added 'a most delightful extra layer of meaning in the production,'” according to the TBTB Web site. "The second production, 'The Rules of Charity,' was written by John Belluso, a playwright with a disability. The play’s action centered on a man using a wheelchair; the company of six integrated a low vision actress and an actor with cerebral palsy as well as a stage manager working from a wheelchair. The Times called it a 'dark, scalding play [in] a sharp New York premiere.'”