Actor Coby Bird And Agent Gail Williamson Host A Discussion On Casting The Differently Abled

Actor Coby Bird And Agent Gail Williamson Host A Discussion On Casting The Differently Abled

Executive producer of the world premiere of Jessica Cavanagh's Self-Injurious Behavior, Ronnie Marmo, and producer Bren Rapp, with the assistance of Joanne Lara of Autism Works Now, Matthew Asner and Navah Paskowitz Asner of The Ed Asner Family Center and others on the front lines in the community, have designed an innovative and engrossing schedule of programming, centering on the challenges and experiences of the autistic community as part of the run of this buzzed about play.

This Friday night, the entertainment industry is the focus of the after show conversation, with autistic actor on the rise, Coby Bird, and agent for the differently abled, Gail Williamson. Coby Bird's credits include an appearance on THE GOOD DOCTOR (ABC), a series about a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome who uses his extraordinary gifts to save lives and challenge skeptics. Williamson is a talent agent and leads the Diversity Department at Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates (KMR) specializing in talent with disabilities. Gail got her start over 25 years ago as a media advocate for people with disabilities at the Media Access Office, a project of the California Governor's Committee for Employment of People with Disabilities. KMR has placed many talented actors with disabilities on award winning shows and currently has 8 series regulars and 7 recurring characters working.

As THE GOOD DOCTOR and Cavanagh's play exemplify, stories of families facing, and those affected by autism, are needed and finding a place on stages and in mainstream media. What that means for actors, casting directors and producers and how the challenges of and the decisions to cast the differently abled influence the awareness of audiences and the content they are consuming will be the topic of this interactive panel. A must not miss event for those working in the industry and for anyone seeking to gain understanding of the complexities and importance of exploring inclusion and representation.

Critically acclaimed after its previews and opening weekend, Self Injurious Behavior is based on playwright and star, Jessica Cavanagh's own story of loss, love and survival in dealing with her son's autism diagnosis. When severely autistic, eleven-year-old Benjamin becomes a danger to himself, his divorced mother, Summer, makes the excruciating decision to admit him to a home for special needs kids. Seeking comfort, she visits her sisters in Portland who desperately and hilariously attempt to distract her with a weekend of escapism at the local renaissance faire. Plagued by haunting dreams of her son and memories of her marriage, she is forced to face the need to let go. With a unique blend of honesty and humor, in telling her story, Jessica Cavanagh has captured a voice that speaks to the power within us all to not only cope with our own "unimaginables" but to continue to live.

The world premiere of Self-Injurious Behavior was brought to Los Angeles by Executive Producers Ronnie Marmo and Joe Mantegna. Marmo, Mantegna and Rapp have proved a formidable team, still riding the wave of the high profile success of I'm Not A Comedian...I'm Lenny Bruce. The one man play written by and starring Ronnie Marmo, directed by Joe Mantegna and co-produced by Bren Rapp has run for over 200 performances between Los Angeles and New York, and having recently concluded a 9 month Off Broadway stint is now gearing up for a national tour.
A percentage of all tickets sold for Self-Injurious Behavior goes to Autism Works Now and The Ed Asner Family Center. As well, as part of their outreach effort, Theatre 68 is employing program participants of Autism Works Now at the theater on performance days.Self-Injurious Behavior runs at Theatre 68 in North Hollywood through September 28th.

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