The following are excerpts from The Ampersand Project’s recent submission.
To create the staging manual and template documents for a community theatre musical fantasy which encourages the disabled, among others, to participate.
The Ampersand Project
The idea is to create a staging manual, a kit that will be available free to all communities, a template for the show to be mounted in a gym, or a meeting hall, not just on a stage. The kit will include karaoke files, in case there is no orchestra, plus documents with dance scores and blueprints for sets, props, and costumes.
The challenge is to create a show script and staging manual adaptable to any size community, to create musical pieces that can integrate all ranges of music and dance ability, including choreographing the disabled.
The song and dance numbers will be designed to include whatever diverse range of talented enthusiasts are capable of taking part, making each production a reflection of that community’s population.
Mounting a community production involves people of all ages, from all segments of the population, who participate voluntarily on equal terms, interacting and co-operating to create one special celebratory event.
A parent could be rigging lights or on stage portraying ‘Mr Kelley’ while their child could be portraying ‘Sandra’ or backstage building sets. For me, that is its most satisfying dynamic.
The Choreographer’s task will be to design and score chorus line movement that allows for anyone who can follow a beat to participate. That kind of flexibility in all aspects of the project makes each production a unique reflection of that community’s perspective.
My idea for community theatre posits that this project has two audiences. Obviously, those who come to watch the show will enjoy its uplifting theme, but those in the community who participate in its production will experience its theme as they become familiar with the talented performers living locally who happen to be physically challenged.
The aim of this project is to involve the disabled in the community. To encourage anyone who can follow a dance step or carry a tune to join with the rest of the chorus on stage, dancing and singing and celebrating.
In a world of competitive para sports why not para song and dance? Sport is not the only sustenance for the human soul.
The UBC study on the impact of paralympic games showed that 23 percent of the employers surveyed said the Games had increased their willingness to hire people with disabilities. Attitudes were changed with familiarity.
Any community that takes on this project will, at the very least, understand accessibility needs better.