Side Show and Stories

 I heard the actress Alice Ripley do a solo version of this song in concert last weekend, and while of course it’s way over-dramatic (it is a musical, after all!) some of the themes resonated for me.  I’d known that Side Show was sort of a cult classic musical, but after seeing that song performed I went on a Youtube and Spotify spree and finally realized how incredibly poignant the show was – both for people who have differences, and those who feel different.
I guess that’s one thing that always fascinates me so much about art having to do with differences and disabilities: that it appeals to such a broad audience. 
Because what we feel as people with differences is actually, if you think about it, so similar to what “normal” people facing normal life circumstances feel.  We’re (or society) is so quick to attribute everything to differences, to unique circumstances, to life trauma.  And to a certain extent, that is valid. But as I’ve grown and really started to think about it, few things in my life are absolutely defined by having been born with Moebius syndrome.  Everything else is a product of chance, of bad luck, of the interactions between life forces.  Was it influenced by the fact that I have Moebius? Sure. But honestly I think the interaction between everything, including Moebius, was most influential.
And I think that is what I appreciate about Side Show: it is about women who happen to be conjoined twins, but also about what they do with themselves and life choices in the face of difference.  Just difference itself isn’t worthy of praise or dramatic retellings: it’s what you do with what you’re dealt that is worthy of exploration.

Supporting inclusive theatre

I’m not really a movie theater fan.  I don’t know if it is sensory or what, but there are just a bunch of other things I’d rather be doing than movies.  I’m definitely a fan of Netflix, though! 

I was lucky enough, however, to be exposed to the performing arts as a child and love almost nothing more than a live performance – concert, theater show, dance performance… just about anything live makes me happy.

The organization who runs the discount TKTS booth in Times Square, the Theatre Development Fund, also runs all kinds of amazing programs aimed at making theatre (both in NYC and across the country) accessible to all – including people with disabilities.  I’m lucky in that I do not need any accommodations to go to the theatre, but many people are not able to do so.  They offer discounted performances targeted to people with disabilities affecting vision or hearing, such as audio-described and signed performances.

TDF recently started something called the Autism Theatre Initiative, which offers modified performances targeted for families affected by autism.  I think this is an amazing idea that I hope will have more success, as theatre is a powerful art form that everyone should have access to – and that many people with autism cannot. As a part of the newly-launched GOOD site, they are in the running to receive funding to continue this program.  Currently the Lion King offers performances, personally I think it would be amazing if this expanded beyond Disney shows (many people with differences of all kinds have responded to the message of Wicked, for example, that would be great if they could adapt that show).  Please consider checking this out and voting!

Thanks for reading this.  I don’t really want to use my blog just to promote other things, but this is important to me on behalf of theatre fans with and without disabilities.

These are a few of my favorite things…

Continuing with the theatre discussion… apologies in advance for anyone not interested!  The Theater Development Fund (who run the wonderful TDF discount accessible tickets for people with disabilities, as well as the TKTS reduced priced tickets booth in Times Square) is developing the Autism Theater Initiative, “which aims to make theatergoing accessible to children and adults living on the autism spectrum.”  I think this is an amazing opportunity, following in the footsteps of sign language interpreters for Deaf patrons and audio-described performances for people with visual impairments.

While many people with varying degrees of ASD do not need such services – and can enjoy live performances without modifications – it’s great that these organizations are thinking ahead about how best to incorporate people of all abilities into a theater-going audience.  It’s wonderful for parents, too, since many times they are unable to go to shows due to their child’s overwhelming needs.  More information about this and other TDF programs can be found at

The New York Times ArtsBeat column wrote more about this program: