Selfconscious Theatre, Abilities Centre & The Theatre Centre to Present THE BOOK OF JUDITH, 6/12-14
Selfconscious Theatre in partnership with Abilities Centre and The Theatre Centre present The Book of Judith, a musical play that questions commonly held ideas about disability. Created by Michael Rubenfeld and Sarah Garton Stanley with Judith Snow, the production will also launch the Accessing the Arts symposium at the Abilities Centre in Whitby (55 Gordon St.). The Book of Judith wraps a successful four-city Ontario tour with a limited three day run, June 12 to 14.
An advocate for inclusion communities, Snow is a visual artist and founding director of Laser Eagles, an organization that creates opportunities for artists with limited mobility and speech to explore their artistic vision. Through intense theatrical development, Snow, Rubenfeld and Stanley have worked together to explore her life as a person with quadriplegia. These conversations led to the production of The Book of Judith. Starring Rubenfeld, featuring Snow and a 20-person inclusive choir, the play challenges audiences to confront their own assumptions surrounding disability, and engage in a conversation about inclusion, accessibility and the pervasiveness of ignorance.
"Theatre has proven to be a more powerful venue than advocacy for having ordinary people understand, experience and choose to be inclusive - to welcome diversity into their ordinary lives," said Snow. "The Book of Judith makes no effort to change the barriers of inclusion, but gives them voice and visibility so that genuine dialogue is possible."
Staged outside in a tent to complement the "revival-style" of the play, The Book of Judith has incorporated Snow's inclusionary philosophies. The story follows a self-anointed preacher who is passionately driven to change the lives of others before changing his own. After a chance meeting with a quadriplegic woman named Judith Snow (herself), Michael (Rubenfeld) believes he has 'seen the light'. With the help of his director (Stanley), and her best friend who is blind (Alex Bulmer), Michael corrals a fully integrated choir of performers of varying abilities to tell his inspirational - yet suspect - tale. Performing original music by Andrew Penner (Sunparlour Players), and under the expert musical direction of theatre veteran Paula Wolfson, the choir features community members from the Whitby area.
"Since producing the premiere of The Book of Judith in 2009, we've known it was important to share this show with wider audiences," said Franco Boni, General & Artistic Director, The Theatre Centre. "It is very exciting to bring the production back to close out our inaugural year of programming, and share Judith's message of inclusion with audiences at the Abilities Centre."
Inspired by The Book of Judith's core message of inclusion, a daylong symposium will be held at the Abilities Centre on June 13, to examine collaboration and inclusion within the performing arts. Accessing the Arts will be a gathering of artists, arts professionals and organizations committed to incorporating inclusive thinking and practice into their programming, creation process and educational initiatives - building upon the dedicated efforts of those who have paved the way for a more diverse, accessible arts community in Canada.
The Book of Judith will be presented at Abilities Centre (55 Gordon Street, Whitby) from June 12 to 14. The performance is approximately 75 minutes long with no intermission, and will be followed by a talk back. Tickets from $15 to $20 are available online at bookofjudith.com, or by phone at 905-665-8500.