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Theater Breaking Through Barriers Premieres BASS FOR PICASSO, 5/2

Theater Breaking Through Barriers (TBTB) will present the world premiere of Kate Moira Ryan's BASS FOR PICASSO beginning May 2nd at the Kirk Theatre on Theatre Row. Previews for the show will begin April 17th and the show will run through May 23rd.

In BASS FOR PICASSO, amputee and food writer for the New York Times Francesca Danieli throws a dinner party for her friends recreating recipes from the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. The guest list includes Pilar, her multilingual art detective lover, who has spent time in Guantanamo for visa problems; Bricka Matson, a lesbian widow with a small child and Republican in-laws who are trying to gain custody; Joe, an OB/GYN whose lover is a geographically challenged crystal meth addict; and Kev, a playwright who has recently fallen off the wagon and written a soon-to-open Off-Broadway play about all of them. It's an insanely funny, irreverent 90-minute look at gay and lesbian life in the new millennium.

Playwright Kate Moira Ryan - author of 25 QUESTIONS FOR A JEWISH MOTHER, THE BEEBO BRINKER CHRONICLES, OTMA, CAVEDWELLER, and most recently MOMMY QUEEREST - has crafted a funny, deeply touching look inside the life of five driven New Yorkers, including a woman whose disability is a part of her life, but does not define it. That's the way it works for so many of the 54,000,000 Americans, nearly 20% of all U.S. citizens, who deal with a disability.

To gain greater acceptance of people with disabilities, Theater Breaking Through Barriers strives to show their lives realistically enacted onstage, on TV and in films, and by actors who actually have disabilities. The recent controversies concerning the use of a hearing actor to play a deaf character Off-Broadway in THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, and of a seeing and hearing actress to play Helen Keller on Broadway in THE MIRACLE WORKER, show the problem is very much with us. What's good is there is now controversy; years ago no one would even have noticed.

"Three things are necessary to confront this problem: the willingness of producers to risk using actors with disabilities; the training and development of these actors; and the existence of visible role models to inspire young people with disabilities to dare to become actors and writers and represent their own lives," says Mr. Schambelan, who will direct the play. "We are the only Off-Broadway theater showing the wares of these talents," he adds.

Performances of BASS FOR PICASSO take place Wednesday and Thursday at 7:00pm, Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday at 3:00pm. Tickets for the show are $41.25 and may be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 212-279-4200.

Theater Breaking Through Barriers, formerly Theater By The Blind, has been working for 29 years to develop blind and low vision talent for the theater, television and film. With great pride, the company has just changed its name to reflect its commitment to include all artists with disabilities in its work, onstage, backstage, in the office and in the audience.

As baby boomers age, more and more Americans will be dealing with disability. 52,000,000 of us, 18%, already do. Yet only 2% of characters on television exhibit a disability and only 0.5% are allowed to speak. TBTB needs to get the reality of our rich, independent lives in front of audiences.

Last year TBTB started intensive work to achieve this goal. The first show of the 2007 season, A Midsummer Night's Dream, featured an actress in a wheelchair, which The New York Times said added "a most delightful extra layer of meaning in the production." The second production, The Rules of Charity, was written by John Belluso, a playwright with a disability. The play's action centered on a man using a wheelchair; the company of six integrated a low vision actress and an actor with Cerebral Palsy as well as a stage manager working from a wheelchair. The Times called it a "dark, scalding play [in] a sharp New York premiere."

TBTB's work to become the home base theater for all people with disabilities - actors and audiences - has received generous support from Theatre Communications Group, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the New York Community Trust and the Emma A. Sheafer Charitable Trust.


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