More than 200 people attend premiere of The Story of Luke and Big Picture Award April 5
Camille Jensen

VANCOUVER – When Greg sat in the audience at the Rio Theatre April 5 and listened to people laughing at the video shorts he and his peers at Stage Door Theatre Troupe created he felt a tremendous sense of pride.

“It shows what we’re capable of doing,” the actor tells posAbilities Today. “It was nice to hear people laughing.”

More than 200 people attended the April 5 event hosted by posAbilities and Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) and Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture. The night was a tribute to the diverse talent of people who have a disability, featuring a variety show with songs, comedy acts and Stage Door shorts.

Nineteen year-old Ryan Chilton was one of the performers, and agrees it was inspiring to play in front of a live audience, singing crowd favourites like Barenaked Ladies “If I Had $1,000,000.”

“This is the first time performing on my guitar and piano in front of other people like this, a big crowd in Vancouver, it’s so awesome,” he says.

Following the live performances was the fourth annual Big Picture Award, which recognizes leaders and change-makers in the Community Living movement.  This year’s winners were the co-directors of Spectrum Society for Community Living, Susan Stanfield, Aaron Johannes-Rosenberg and Ernie Baatz.

PosAbilities program director Gord Tulloch commended Spectrum’s leaders for being soulful, thoughtful, innovative and visionary.

“They are the sort of people you want to individually emulate and they also provide leadership not only to their own organization but also the sector,” Gord told the audience. “And they’ve done so for as long as I’ve been in services, which is over 20 years.”

The evening’s grand finale was British Columbia’s premiere screening of The Story of Luke, an award-winning comedy about Luke, a young man with autism who is on a quest for a job and a girlfriend. The witty comedy follows Luke during a pivotal life stage, and shows how people around him grow and change as a result of his influence.

John Harris, producer at Accessible Media Inc.’s Vancouver bureau, attended the event with his wife and filmmaker wife Kate Surridge, and was blown away by the film.

“Kate and I watch a lot of movies and we’ve made a few together, too … ‘Luke’ is truly exceptional work,” says John.

“We remember when Napoleon Dynamite was launching; it too was a quirky, unusual movie with a ‘different’ protagonist. It made Jon Heder a successful actor (three roles in 2013) and grossed over $46 million. I have no doubt ‘Luke’ is capable of creating that kind of response.”

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