Disability Awareness Week Features Theater of the Blind Troupe
Student Disability Services in Academic Planning and Support Services (APSS) will celebrate diversity at St. Edward’s during Disability Awareness Week, April 16–20. Campuswide events will provide information about disabilities and educate the campus community. Two events guaranteed to draw attention will be a “Flash Awareness Event” and the production of “Don Quixote” performed by the Theater of the Blind Troupe consisting of 11 St. Edward’s students and two alumni, a student project managed by Brown Scholar Samantha Cook ’12.
This year, Disability Awareness Week is a true reflection of collaboration across the St. Edward’s community. When Catherine MacDermott, professor in the School of Management and Business, and faculty member for the Business Living Learning Community (LLC), heard about the Theater of the Blind project, she thought it would provide a great service opportunity for her LLC students.
The students helped develop some of the sound effects for the show. They also conducted research on disabilities, visited with campus offices to discuss their findings and promoted “Don Quixote.” They're each completing a total of 12 service hours on the project. View a teaser trailer of the production.
“This form of media can be used to create equality in theater, with casting based on voice instead of weight, ethnicity, or physical or mental ability,” Cook said. To stay true to this idea, Cook and the rest of the crew were blindfolded during auditions and callbacks, seeing the actors for the first time at the read-through after casting.
Furthering the collaboration, Roel Martinez, academic counselor and advisor to the Business LLC, introduced the idea of including the Theater of the Blind to Kendall Swanson, director of SDS. Swanson invited Cook to join the campuswide committee for Disability Awareness Week. The committee also includes representatives from The Health & Counseling Center, Dean of Students, and APSS. When Cook joined the committee, she brought the student perspective necessary to fully incorporate faculty, staff and students.
Get Involved in Disability Awareness Week
April 16–20: Be on the lookout for Disability Awareness Week posters featuring different types of disabilities that are accommodated through SDS. Disability counselors will also be available in the Ragsdale Center April 17–19 to offer assistance and answer questions.
April 18 at 11:55 a.m., “Flash Awareness Event:” Students, faculty and staff members across campus will “flash” informative signs around campus that highlight services and student experiences, such as: “1 in 13 students at St. Edward’s utilize Student Disability Services.” Some St. Edward’s professors are offering extra credit for their students to participate in this event. Student leaders such as Student Orientation Leaders and Health & Counseling Peer Educators will participate, and others are encouraged to join. If you would like to get involved, please contact Dana Mazur with APSS.
April 13–22, “Don Quixote:” Theater of the Blind: For this special experience, the audience is blindfolded and led into the performance space, and they remain blindfolded as the action takes place all around them — similar to a surround sound radio show. The program is designed to raise awareness of sightlessness.
Because of its unique methodology, this production can only seat 62 people per show in order to allow the full experience for all audience members. To Cook’s knowledge, this style of theater has only been produced twice before — in Argentina and Scotland.
The production will be at 7:30 p.m. April 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, and at 2 p.m. April 21 and noon April 22 in Mabee Ballroom A in the Robert and Pearle Ragsdale Center at St. Edward’s University. Tickets are $4, but additional donations are encouraged. The profits from the show will be donated to the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired theater department. Cook hopes to raise more than $1,000. To reserve tickets, email Samantha Cook.
By attending and participating in these events, you can show support and help prevent prejudice and discrimination against people with disabilities. If you need information about SDS, contact Kendall Swanson or Candice Vasquez.