Posts Tagged "puts"


Cost of Living puts privilege of all kinds under the microscope

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Cost of Living

 When: Oct. 10-Nov. 3

Where: BMO Theatre Centre

Tickets: from $29 at

In Martyna Majok’s 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Cost of Living, John is smart, arrogant and wealthy; he is also confined to a wheelchair by his cerebral palsy. Ani is angry and caustic; she too is confined to a wheelchair, having been made a quadriplegic in a car accident. Both are portrayed by actors who share certain aspects of their conditions.

Not all of them, however.

“The way I can not relate to John is that he is very, very rich,” said Christopher Imbrosciano. “I have yet to experience the wealth that John has.”

Imbrosciano also has cerebral palsy, though not as severely as his character — it mostly affects the actor’s gait. Teal Sherer, who plays Ani, is a paraplegic. In the play, the focus is as much on their caregivers as it is on John and Ani. Rounding out the cast are Bahareh Yaraghi and Ashley Wright, as respective caregivers Jess and Eddie.

The different financial circumstances between the characters adds another layer to Cost of Living, Imbrosciano notes. “Hiring caregivers is not something John has to think about. Whereas Ani struggles to get the assistance she needs.”

While Imbrosciano and Sherer bring a certain amount of lived experience to their roles, neither has had to hire a caregiver.

“That’s something we’ve had to discover,” Sherer said. “I think that’s one thing that drew me to the play.”

Teal Sherer and Ashley Wright star in Cost of Living at the BMO Theatre from Oct. 10 to Nov. 3. Photo: Pink Monkey Studios 


Cost of Living is about privilege in its many forms, says director Ashlie Corcoran.

“The play explores the privileges of those who are able-bodied, but at the same time it’s looking at privilege through the lens of socioeconomic status,” she said.

Homelessness, gender, and what it means to be a first-generation American (in the case of Jess) are other themes that come up.

“In prepping for the play, I put different lenses on and tried to say, ‘Well who is more privileged at this moment, and what are they doing with it?’ It keeps shifting. John says, ‘I can do anything I want, except for the things that I can’t.’ And I think you could say that for all of the characters.”

The Vancouver run marks the play’s Canadian premiere. A co-production with Citadel Theatre, Cost of Living will move on to Edmonton in the new year.

Whether identity politics, the #metoo movement, or the environment, theatre is often at the forefront of cultural issues. Recognizing this, the Arts Club has created a role, that of creative cultural consultant, that lets the organization call in experts. For Cost of Living, they’ve consulted with James Sanders, founding artistic director of Real Wheel Theatre. The company is dedicated to inclusion, integration, and understanding of disability.

“Because they (the actors) have their own lived experience, his role has been more about working with the Arts Club as a whole to make sure our spaces and attitudes are as accessible as possible,” Corcoran said. “We’ve learned a lot and made lots of changes. What excites me the most is when we’re in meetings and people bring up these topics.”

Sanders is also collaborating with the Arts Club, in partnership with Bard on the Beach, on an upcoming symposium, Theatre and Accessibility in a Digital World (Oct 20-22 at the BMO). “We’re looking at how we can use technology to make theatre, our spaces, our experiences, our stories, more accessible for artists and audiences alike,” Corcoran said.

Cost of Living is a step in this direction.

“Society usually tells us to turn away when you see a person with a disability,” Sherer said. “With this play, we’re saying, ‘No, look at us. Look at our bodies, look at our experiences.’ And that’s really powerful.”


Honesty comes before inspiration as This is the Point puts spotlight on disability

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Tony Diamanti, Liz MacDougall and Dan Watson in This is the Point (at the Cultch Historic Theatre Jan 29 – Feb 2 as part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

Dahlia Katz /


This is the Point

When: Jan. 29 – Feb. 2

Where: Cultch Historic Theatre

Tickets: from $24 at

This is the Point is about people with disabilities. But it’s primary purpose is to be honest, not inspirational.

“It’s a question of representation,” Ahuri Theatre’s Dan Watson said.

“You don’t see a lot of representations of people who experience disability. For a lot of people, it’s really great to see that. It’s not inspirational porn; it’s not about being inspiring. It’s trying to show their lives the way they’re experiencing them.

The struggles and triumphs of four people whose lives have been shaped, in part, by cerebral palsy, is at the heart of the show.

A co-production of Ahuri Theatre and The Theatre Centre, This is the Point premiered in 2016. The PuSh Festival run in Vancouver, and an Ontario tour before that, marks its first appearances outside of Toronto.

The show was inspired by Bruno, the eldest child of Watson and his partner Christina Serra. Bruno has cerebral palsy and is non-verbal.

“Christina and I got interested in how we could work with him and other kids or adults like him to offer a different way to express themselves through theatre,” Watson said.

Through working on different projects they met Tony Diamanti, who also has cerebral palsy.

“We invited him to participate in some of our projects but he said, ‘no, I’ve got a script I’ve written about my life, and I’d like you guys to look at it and see if we could work together.’ Liz (MacDougall, Diamanti’s partner) came along to support him. We began sharing stories, and it became less Tony’s story and more about all of our stories.”

The result is a collaboration between Watson, Serra, Diamanti, MacDougall, and director Karin Randoja.

Watson calls This is the Point “a bunch of stories and conversations glued together.”

“We follow the script, but allow ourselves the opportunity to go off or change if something’s happening in the room. We can acknowledge if something happens and move on. It may be the same way with our audience as well. Things are going to happen that you might not expect. And that’s OK.”

Playing versions of themselves, Watson, Serra, Diamanti and MacDougall originally performed the show: Watson and Serra as parents searching for the best way to help their disabled son, Diamanti as a non-verbal adult who nonetheless has plenty to say, and MacDougall (who also has cerebral palsy) as his longtime romantic partner.

A series of staged conversations and theatrical re-enactments dramatize events and conflicts in their lives and opens up the conversation to explore and debate questions around disability. (In the current production Serra, who dropped out before a 2017 remount, is present in pre-recorded video.)

The show comes with trigger warnings, including “violence and simulated sexuality.”

“There are a couple of scenes that can be triggering, especially for the disability community,” Watson said.

“At one point I play Tony’s attendant. After Tony fired him he came back and physically assaulted him (Tony). That can be triggering.”

Another scene involves Diamanti’s first sexual encounter, when a woman at a party gives him acid and sexually assaults him.

The show is frank about sexuality, and includes a scene where Diamanti and MacDougall go to a fetish event.

“Sexuality is a big part of their partnership. They’re sexual beings. People might assume that people who are disabled are not sexual people, and they very much are.”

Reactions to the play from the disability community have been positive, Watson says.

“When we were making the show, I thought, ‘well maybe this is a show for people who haven’t had a lot of experience with disability.’ I still think they can get a lot out of it. But also it’s resonating with people who experience disability directly, and the circle around them, their friends and family, and people they associate with.

“Disability touches so many different people. Chances are, everybody has connections to the disability community it some way.”


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