Saturday, February 20, 2010

Disabled actors in St. Louis prepare to perform "Tom Sawyer"

From The St. Louis American:

That Uppity Theatre Company and DisAbility Project are collaborating on a play based on the Mark Twain classic, Tom Sawyer, performed by actors with disabilities. Helping with the production is Felicia Scott (AKA “Scotti”), a professional vocal coach who has been working with individuals and small groups for 20 years.

“They still have the same desire to sing or improve their talent,” Scott said of the disabled actors.

“Even though they may be in wheelchairs or crutches permanently, they are still very capable. There is very little limitation that I have to deal with.”

Scott said all the actors in the production are equally special in their various ways to her. One couple that recently married, both wheelchair-bound, impressed her.

“That gives you an idea of what ‘normal’ is supposed to be. They found love. That is the general message – there is no difference,” Scott said.

“They’re no different from anyone else. I don’t really find anything different than anybody else that I’ve worked with, except the fact there may be added furniture, their chairs or clutches. We are all children of God.”

The DisAbility Project ensemble for Tom Sawyer has 15 active members, both with and without disabilities, who are diverse in age, race, ethnicity, class, occupation, education, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability and performance experience.

That Uppity Theatre Company Artistic Director Joan Lipkin and the DisAbility Project have received numerous honors, including the Brotherhood Sisterhood Award from the National Conference for Community & Justice, the Focus St. Louis “What's Right with the Region” Award for Improving Racial Equality and Social Justice, and the Missouri Governor's Council on Disability Enhancement Award.

“I knew Felicia would be the ideal person to work with our group because she is a consummate musician, has a delightful sense of humor and truly knows how to motivate and support people,” Lipkin said.

“Our ensemble of people with disabilities has loved having their very own vocal coach, and through Felicia’s work with them the quality of their singing has improved greatly. And equally important, they are loving singing and loving their time with her.”

Scott’s daily motivation is sharing with others, from singing in church to performing with various musicians.

“I was given these gifts and talents to share,” Scott said.

For inspiration, Scott recommends people to find out what their passion is. Scott has stayed with a school with no pay just because she loves to teach. After the production of Tom Sawyer is finished, Scott plans to continue working with the DisAbility Project and temporarily serve as choir director at a school while furthering her education at Eden Theological Seminary.

“If I can teach, I’m a real happy girl,” Scott said.

Scott is a St. Louis native and has been part the local arts scene for years. After studying music, voice, education and music business at Fontbonne University, Scott has been recognized for her vocal talents in classical, jazz/blues, and gospel music as well as her leadership in the arts community, beginning with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the recording arts. Scott became recognized as voice-over talent from her music segment on the popular Lavender Limelight community radio show during the late ‘90s and her jazz radio show.

Scott is executive director and DJ of Wired Women, Inc., a production company that has supported the St. Louis women’s community for over 20 years by producing concert events and hosting women's dances. Currently, Scott serves as a volunteer chaplain and works professionally as a career consultant, helping developmentally disabled adults obtain competitive employment.