By Kirsty Johnston
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Extra info for Stage Turns: Canadian Disability Theatre
38 For Helen LeBaron, an actor who worked with the group for many of its early years, finding the comedy helps her push past the frustrations of the incidents themselves: “I have this anger, and it helps me to get over things. ”39 Bieber has noted that the company places a great deal of emphasis on the journey to production: “Within our process a sense of social cohesion is established, simultaneously empowering the individuals by encouraging selfexpression, by emphasizing the process over the product.
The company also has complex ties with Realwheels founder James Sanders, who took classes and explored creative opportunities with the company in the 1990s. 55 In 2006, the two companies also shared funding for a collaborative Classical Project, an initiative that ultimately fractured at least partially due to different visions for disability theatre. 56 To gain a sense of what these kinds are, we will first explore Realwheels’ own comparatively short history, its mandate, and remarkably swift commercial and professional success.
Stage Left Productions, one of Calgary’s most wide-ranging companies, defines itself as a performance company rather than strictly theatre, pointing to its commitment to multi and interdisciplinary approaches and alternative practices. In fact its efforts are not exclusively oriented toward disability issues; it also supports a range of art forms and social activism. Founded in 1999 by disabled artist and activist Michele Decottignies, Stage Left Productions later incorporated as a non-profit in 2003.