On 25-26 July, a unique, wonderful and completely sold-out production took to the stage in Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin. Smock Alley has played host to many wonderful productions, but this one was slightly different. It was the culmination of two years of hard work for the members of The RhythmRoom Theatre company—a company that includes actors both with and without disabilities coming together to create something unique.
The production started with an atmospheric telling of the Russian folk tale of Baba Yaga and Vassilisa, which set the scene for the members of the company to all tell their own stories of bravery, grief, friendship, and love—amongst other themes. These stories were all connected by a large trunk, which was used in so many wonderful ways by the cast to create moving vignettes and illustrate their stories.
I was lucky enough to support a student with a disability who worked as an intern with the group during the final few weeks of preparation for the show. I was there purely as a support for her, but I quickly began to see how much this production meant to every single person involved, from the director to the actors. Their dedication shone through at all stages of preparation, and the final production was nothing short of brilliant. Each actor’s personality was celebrated, and the story each told during the second part of the show was deeply personal, and had the power to affect the audience in many ways. During the course of the performance I laughed, cried and sang along with the actors, and I left the theatre uplifted.
I have since spoken to my companion for the evening, who (unlike me) doesn’t work in the field of disability. She does, however, have family members who have disabilities, so she’s not unaware of the challenges and lack of creative outlets for such people in this country. She was blown away by the abilities and creativity shown by all the actors, and how much their friendship shone through on stage. It was fun to watch, and that fun also helped the serious side of the production come to the fore. The emotions and themes explored by the actors are universal, but they are also emotions which many people do not acknowledge to be felt or experienced by people with intellectual disabilities. I would challenge any of those people to sit in on a performance of Can I fit into this? and continue in that opinion. The emotions on stage were expertly conveyed by talented actors, under the direction of a truly committed director and producer. The group now plans to take the production on the road—if you get the chance, go and