chapter  13
21 Pages

Disability and Access: A Manifesto for Actor Training

ByVICTORIA ANN LEWIS

Presented here are two poles of theatre access. In the fi rst, a folk play from England, tradition has it that amateur village performers in deep disguise rumble from house to house demanding space to perform their short comic tales of death and resurrection. The cottage inhabitants, the so-called “brave gallants,” push aside the kitchen table, roll up their rugs, and hope their lights survive the sword play. St. George enters, followed by the villain, the Slasher or the Turkish Knight, and a battle between good and evil ensues. One or the other is killed and then a doctor arrives to restore the deceased to life. Strong beer and “pocketfuls of money” reward the players’ efforts. The masked men depart into the night, moving on to the next house demanding, “Room, room, give us room.” At the opposite pole, when a young man seeks entrance into an acting conservatory, the “brave gallants” are not so accommodating. St. George does not appear to sweep the place clean of physical and mental barriers. The wandering player is rewarded for his efforts: a twenty-dollar lunch! But not in the room. And the ambiguity is inescapable-a handout or a gift? A beggar or an entertainer?