At Interact Theater, neurodiverse performers are the star of the show
Neurodiverse performers take center stage at Luminary Arts Center in November for Interact Theater's "Hell is Empty and All the Devils Are Here… Again!" — an original show largely written, designed and performed by actors with disabilities.
Why it matters: Interact's performances challenge public perception of disability, director Jeanne Calvit told Axios.
State of play: The 30+ ensemble members are involved throughout the entire creative process, including brainstorming ideas, writing songs and scripts and through the improvisation on and off stage.
- While there are several community theater organizations for neurodiverse performers, Interact is the only one putting on shows at the professional level, Calvit said. All actors are paid for their work.
Background: Calvit founded Interact Theater in 1992 before expanding it into what is now Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts, an organization that includes over 120 artists across disciplines including music, painting and acting.
- Collaboration between people with and without disabilities is a large part of the center's mission of radical inclusion, she added.
- Staff members both teach and perform alongside their students and everyone is encouraged to contribute ideas along the way, instructor Josette Antomarchi told Axios.
What they're saying: "I've wanted a career as a performing artist since I was a child, but I had all this self-doubt and insecurity because the industry was not accepting to actors with mental disabilities," said Michael Wolfe, who has been with Interact for over 10 years.
- "Here, I'm able to play to my strengths while still being myself," he said.
Details: "Hell is Empty and All the Devils Are Here… Again!" is a musical, satirical comedy that covers everything from spy balloons to artificial intelligence to the devil, Antomarchi explained.
- Performances at Luminary Arts Center in Minneapolis run through Nov. 18. General admission tickets are $27.
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