Disabled Artist Advocate Lisa Sniderman Partners With The Voxel to Create Accessible Hybrid Theatre

The Grieving Project will hold a two-week residency at The Voxel in Baltimore, from Feb 26th - March 11th.

By: Feb. 15, 2024
Disabled Artist Advocate Lisa Sniderman Partners With The Voxel to Create Accessible Hybrid Theatre
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San Francisco-based award-winning musician, playwright and disabilities advocate Lisa Sniderman has partnered with Open Circle Theatre (OCT), the DMV's first professional theatre company promoting artists with and without disabilities, to produce The Grieving Project musical - a proof of concept for "radically accessible" hybrid theatre.

A project that was three years in the making, The Grieving Project will hold a two-week residency at The Voxel in Baltimore, from Feb 26th - March 11th. The time will be used to test, demo, stage and film immersive tech in a live environment with the aim of creating comparable theatrical experiences for both live and virtual audiences.

Two private, invite-only performances of select scenes and songs from The Grieving Project will be presented on March 8th and 9th, for both virtual and in-person audiences. The in-person audience will receive a pre-show tour of the new technology being used and meet the cast and production team. The virtual audience will receive a whole new immersive hybrid theatre experience where they will choose their own avatar, mingle with other audience members in the "virtual lobby", and navigate how they view the stage, as in real life.

The team behind the The Grieving Project includes writer/producer Lisa Sniderman and director Suzanne Richard, the OCT Artistic Director. During the residency, Sniderman will join Richard virtually through a robot (on loan from OhmniLabs) that has her face on a screen and enables her to travel anywhere in the theatre, see everything in the room, and participate in conversations as if in person. The project is currently fundraising on IndieGoGo to cover the costs of the production and developing new accessibility tech.

The Grieving Project is a full-length spoken-word and sung multimedia musical. The musical tells the story of four disabled artists, finalists in an arts competition called "The Grieving Project," who meet over Zoom, find their voices and thrive while navigating mental health, relationships, transformation, identity, and grieving their illnesses. Book is by Sniderman. Music was co-written by Sniderman, Stewart St John and Michael Plahuta, and Angelo "Scrote" Bundini.

"I was missing live theatre, and had this vision of bringing live theatre to those like me through a disability-centered musical," said Sniderman. "While living with chronic illness for 13 years, I kept so busy creating, I forgot to grieve, and was compelled to write a disability-centered musical to empower others who may have also forgotten to grieve, to access their losses."

Currently, the team has raised nearly $8,000 since launching toward the goal of $25,000 to create the accessible experience for this proof of concept phase of the project. To date, the project needs another $47,000 to meet the overall goal of $110,000.

"We want to bring theatre experiences to the millions of people who cannot attend live theatre due to chronic illness, disability, age, geography and economic challenges, and lack of accessible theatres," said Sniderman.



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