Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Realwheels Theatre to present staged readings of three new plays in-progress

Zombies, Mannequins, and Talking Heads takes place at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre from May 9-11.

Vancouver’s Realwheels Theatre, a professional theatre company “that creates and produces art that deepens the audience’s understanding of the disability experience,” will present three original scripts in development as part of its play-reading series: Zombies, Mannequins, and Talking Heads.

Created by playwrights who identify with disability, the scripts include Vascular Necrosis by Jordyn Wood, Faye’s Room by Alex Masse, and Saturday Nights at Axles by Adam Grant Warren.

“With the transition to new leadership at Realwheels, we asked ourselves what we wanted this next evolution of the company to be,” says Adam Grant Warren, series playwright and Realwheels Theatre’s co-artistic director. “We knew there needed to be more original work from a broader spectrum of lived disability experience; we knew we had to give that work the time and focus it deserves; and we knew we wanted to fully engage our audiences with it. Not just with whatever final product, but with the actual process. To feed in. To come back and see them change. We think Zombies, Mannequins, and Talking Heads is the perfect place to start making that investment, and we hope folks are as excited as we are to see these pieces grow.”

Jordyn Wood’s Vascular Necrosis (May 9) is a disjointed narrative that subverts typical zombie tropes to explore identity, chronic illness, and belonging. It is the story of Penelope, who five years killed herself only to return as a man-eating monster. Now, with the help of “de-necrotizers,” medication meant to subdue these man-eating instincts, she gets to rejoin society in the land of the living. But how do you exist in a world you never wanted to be a part of? Vascular Necrosis follows Penelope’s journey as she’s torn between the life she had before and the after-life she wants to live.

Faye’s Room (May 10) by Alex Masse is the story of Faye Buckley, an autistic lesbian who works at a queer cafe and happens to have the power to summon and hide in a magical sensory room at will. When Faye becomes trapped in this room with her least favourite co-worker, son of the founder and token heterosexual Chase McLure, an unlikely bond forms, and the two find themselves having a bit more in common than they’d thought. Faye’s Room is about neurodivergent solidarity, intergenerational bonds, and internalized ableism. It thrusts viewers into the autistic lens, a world of living mannequins, travelling rooms, and ghosts.

In Saturday Night at Axles (May 11), playwright Adam Grant Warren tells the story of top-tier travel YouTuber and wheelchair-user Ramona Peet, who finally returns to Axles, the only fully wheelchair-accessible bar in downtown St John’s. She says she’s back to record a come-home video for her wildly successful channel, but as the night goes on, the real reason why Ramona wants her old pals on camera comes to light and forces everyone to answer questions of belonging, identity, and perspective that none of them have ever faced before. Ramona, least of all.

In addition to the three readings, Real Wheels will host a free panel discussion on May 11 with the three playwrights as they discuss their work and creative process.

Zombies, Mannequins, and Talking Heads takes place at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver) from May 9-11. Visit realwheels.ca for more information.

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