February 28, 2021
A few things . . .
Bob Wells as quoted by Chloe Zhao, “Compassion is the breakdown of barriers between us.”
We’re half way through the first session of this “academy.” Time’s flying, There are so many things to say here I’m not quite sure where to begin… so get ready… were going to do some jumping around.
First up a little Covid talk – As an organization we are not political. As human beings we can’t quite avoid the treacherous waters of having an opinion. As I straddle both of these I’m faced with one glaring truth. Each and everyone of our actors deserves to be treated the same… the same dignity, the same care, the same medical diligence, the same respect, and, should they desire it, the same right to have a covid vaccine in a timely way. You would think this is simple fact within our community today but it’s not. According to the state all those under DDD who live in government supported housing (Group homes, IDLA living situations etc.) ARE indeed entitled to be part of the 1b group and may arrange to have their shots – now. In addition there are some work programs that will be distributing shots for their clients. What I am finding extremely unfair, as I talk to other parents, is that if one of our participants lives at home – even with the same underlying medical conditions as other participants of Detour – that that person is unable to be part of the 1b group and must wait… and wait… I am not advocating getting nor saying to avoid having this vaccine. What I am saying is this right to choose should be equal and standard for all of our actors. Let’s start there but understand that there are so many more men and women who are NOT actors facing this vaccine disparity. Letters have been sent to the governor. I apologize because I don’t know what the final resolution is as of today but I am weighing in. If you are asked – please support the rights of all members of the DDD community to be treated equally, fairly and in a way that insures they can make informed decisions in a timely manner.
WHEW… which brings up the matter of words. We’ve been exploring that a LOT recently as we’ve been writing more grant proposals. As I worked this week three words that came up again and again… (in case you get a letter from us I want to tell you what they mean to me and how we use them in Detour.) Inclusive, Accessible, Disability:
Inclusive – we are absolutely inclusive. To me inclusive speaks a great deal to gender, to race, to sexual orientation, to a host of other things — religion, eating preferences, some things huge, others not so huge… inclusivity is an open door that stays open, inviting all to come in the room.
For me though inclusivity stops a little short of Detour’s ultimate dream —- it does not necessarily speak to accessibility (it may be implied but it is not always there)
Accessibility – in Detour terms means if you REALLY want a chance we will work to find a way to give you the opportunity you desire and deserve. It means we hire interpreters, we have an audio describer for shows and a host of us willing to describe for rehearsals. It means we tweak a chorus if we need more time so folks can get where they need to go – safely. It means if a word is a stumbling block we may have to tweak it. Accessibility is a yes to provide support to do whatever practical, necessary, dedicated action is necessary. While inclusivity is often matter of attitude, accessibility is a matter of figuring out, commitment, and follow through.
Disability – I can feel some of you cringing already. Did I really use that word? Yes. I do not believe the word disability is bad. It is VERY often wrongly perceived. Yes you can sub in “non typical,” “challenged,” “otherly abled.” BUT for me disability is a descriptive and okay word. It does NOT necessarily speak to diagnosis and it absolute does not refer to a one size fits al label. We are not driven by diagnoses. We are driven by a commitment to opportunity. I find both diagnoses and labels limit the magic we long to create. Understand the “disability” an actor is experiencing is key to finding the right kind of fairy dust. If you ask my son what his disability is he will tell you he has two – losing his temper and people not understanding his speech. He’s right. Those are the hugely disabling factors that make life tough for him. My disability is my complete shut down when it comes to technology. Mention google drive, google docs or the cloud and I go pale. It’s a disability. It interferes with my functioning. Our actors own their disabilities – interrupting, being jealous of one another, being shy, too bored, restless etc. Blind and/or Deaf are labels for conditions . . Not being able to see or not being able to hear . .. those are the disabilities. They are something we need to make accommodation for. We don’t avoid the issue, what ever the issue. We endeavor to address what each uniquely wonderful person needs to function successfully. We each have disabilities that interfere with our ability to do things within our communities . . . I would challenge you to think of yours. They aren’t bad. They are reality – and once we understand them we can begin to learn how to work and grow with them.
Which brings me to songs – I am more thankful than I can say to be teaching this Thursday class that’s a celebration of past shows. We always run over. I always have two songs I still want to get to. The memories are fabulous and watching folks move about their home spaces so inspiring that I want to do each of these shows all over again. Zoom does make it more of a challenge. Most of the action I see is from the chest up but still those eyes have a LOT to say. One of our songs for next week is one of my favorites. If you didn’t see the show its from this probably makes no sense . . .if you saw it then you understand why I’m so fired up tonight. These lyrics speak to who we are . . . they speak to wanting, expecting something better and of embracing the beautiful, freaky, incredibly special souls we are . . .so here’s a peak at what’s being sung Thursday and what we hope has been lived out in a life time of Detour:
We’ve got magic, we’ve got power.
Who are they to say we’re wrong?
All the things that make us special
Are the things that make us strong!
What makes us special…
What makes us special makes us strong!
Let your Freak Flag wave,
Let your Freak Flag fly!
Never take it down, never take it down,
Raise it way up high! Yeah!
Let your Freak Flag fly!
Fly, fly, fly…
(From Let Your Freak Flag Flay — SHREK!)