Contributed by Julian Avelino, Community Connector
Building Caring Communities’ (BCC) newest initiative Let’s Get Real, is a community of people with developmental disabilities who meet on a monthly basis to connect with potential partners, explore romantic relationships, and have fun! The team aims to advocate for more opportunities and greater autonomy of people with developmental disabilities in expressing and pursuing their sexual aspirations.
After 18 months of late afternoon-early evening events, Let’s Get Real hosted their first “night life” gathering. On Tuesday January 29th, with eight group members and three LGR staff, the group met on The Drive and began their adventure to The Cultch to see This is the Point, a PuSh Festival production that highlights how people’s lives are molded by disability.
Arriving at the venue in the close to freezing temperature, the group huddled together as the LGR staff organized getting our tickets in order. The staff at The Cultch went above and beyond accommodating us. Our group entered the theater with less than 10 minutes before the production time, and The Cultch staff ensured that all 11 of us had the opportunity to sit with one another despite a packed audience!
This is the Point follows four individuals whose lives have been shaped, in part by cerebral palsy. Through a series of staged conversations and theatrical rep-enactments, two couples – Dan and Christina, and Tony and Liz – draw from their personal lives to explore and debate questions of representation, the nature of companionship and whether people of different abilities can ever connect with each other on equal terms.
The production elicited a wave of different feelings, sending our group through a roller coaster ride various emotions. Members were seen laughing, cheering and hollering during certain sets. But throughout the hour and a half production, members were also seen withdrawing into their chairs, and some even on the verge of crying. This play hit some of our members right “at home.” There were aspects of the play that stuck true to the name of our group, as some scenes “got real” very quickly. This reminded some group members of extremely challenging, frightening and difficult moments in their lives. During one of the intense scenes, a group member muttered, “Oh, this is a lot for me to handle.”
Through it all, Dan Watson, Liz MacDougall, and Tony Diamanti did a remarkable job showcasing the ups and downs of living with disability. The three actors also wrote this play along with Christina Serra and Karin Randoja. Together, they highlighted some of the less talked about aspects of living with disability, specifically around sex. Here, the actors spotlighted a feature of having a disability that some folks may not be privy to, namely that having sex can, and should be a meaningful part of all people’s lives. During the production, one group member began passionately chanting along with Liz – “Everyone. Is equally. Different!”
In light of the more emotional parts of the evening, we still felt that this was an amazing and extremely meaningful experience for all of our members who attended. Yes, there were certainly parts of the night that were difficult for some folks, but this was an opportunity to witness a production like no other. Our members experienced a play that brought to life elements of living with disability that are not always talked about. We were able to support our members to experience possibly the “realest” LGR event yet, and for that we give our thanks to Tony, Liz and Dan.
Be sure to check out our next “night life” event, taking place on Wednesday February 13th from 4 pm – 7 pm at Yaggers Downtown Restaurant and Bistro for the Let’s Get Real Valentines Day Special. Come on down for some lip sync battles, karaoke, card making and dating games! We’ll provide some light snacks, and some soft drinks. We hope to see you there!
For more information on Let’s Get Real, please visit buildingcaringcommunities.ca/lets-get-real