Taking the stage — stories about life with disability

On stage

Beth and Whitney take the stage.

Performing on stage this past weekend ended up being a lot of fun – especially for my Seeing Eye dog.

I wrote here earlier about an accessible play writing class I took over the summer that was geared to people with and without disabilities. We performed some of our plays Saturday at a wheelchair-accessible theater in Chicago. The performance featured live captioning and American Sign Language for people who are hard of hearing and audio headphones for people who want the action on stage described. A touch tour of the stage and props took place ahead of the show for anyone interested.

One assignment in the class was to choose a form –a Spanish-language soap opera, a game show, a text message, you name it –and create a play using that form. I chose to portray an incident that happened during my internship here at Easterseals in the form of a “Dear Boss” letter. We performed that piece Saturday. Whitney stole the show.

My play had a surprise element to it, and now that we’ve performed it on stage I can share the screenplay. You already know the ending: I’m still here!

Dear Boss

by Beth Finke

Entire letter is read by narrator, not Beth. Narrator can be on or off-stage as long as the audience can hear them. Scene opens with Beth sitting on chair facing audience, a cloth zippered bag is on the floor to her right. Whitney the Seeing Eye dog is lying calmly at her feet.

signing

Signing the production helped to make it accessible to all.

Narrator: Dear Boss,

I am writing to apologize for my behavior at the bar last Friday.

I was very moved by the invitation to join you for happy hour at your favorite local bar, and am mortified to think my actions at Jake’s Pub embarrassed you.

Let me try and explain.

Before we left the office last Friday, I searched for my Seeing Eye dog’s bowl under the bathroom sink. It was gone. Cleaning staff take it by mistake? It was 3 o’clock. She had to eat. I spilled her zip lock bag of dog food right onto the floor in the bathroom stall.

Beth takes her Seeing Eye dog’s harness off, spills a Ziploc bag of dog food onto the floor, and Whitney the Seeing Eye dog eats as narrator continues to read letter.

Narrator: “C’mon! C’mon, hurry up!” I wanted her to finish before someone came in and caught her licking the bathroom floor.

We do have some pride, after all.

Narrator waits for Whitney to stop licking crumbs from the floor, then continues to read letter. Beth buckles her harness back on to Whitney as narrator reads the next lines.

Narrator: Whitney finished her food, I buckled her harness, we headed downstairs, piled into a cab with you and headed to Jake’s. What a thoroughly modern working woman I was, meeting my boss for cocktails at happy hour!

Beth stays in her seat and Whitney the Seeing Eye dog positions herself down in front of Beth again. They remain like this for the rest of the play.

Narrator: One drink led to another. I started getting hungry. Jake’s didn’t sell food. Not even beer nuts. I reached down into my bag, felt for my pouch of almonds, set them on the bar and started to munch.

Beth does all that as narrator reads those lines and starts to gag and fumble frantically for a napkin out of her bag.

Narrator: That’s why it had taken my Seeing Eye dog so long to eat her dinner in the bathroom stall. I’d given her my pouch of almonds.

I’m guessing you’ve seen a lot at Jake’s Pub. But until last Friday, you’ve likely never seen ANYONE belly up to the bar for dog food.

I hope you can forgive my behavior and will allow me to complete my six-month internship.

Sincerely,

Beth Finke

Interactive Community Intern


 

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  1. Allison Holshouser Says:

    I’m writing in in regards to find out what kind off day programs if any to help with a person’s motor skills for instance cooking.


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