BuzzFeed’s Louis Peitzman wrote a really great profile of Broadway’s new production of The Glass Menagerie, which stars newcomer Madison Ferris, an actor with a mobility disability, in the role of Laura, a character with a mobility disability. As Peitzman points out, casting actors with disabilities as characters with disabilities remains exceedingly rare both on Broadway and in Hollywood. But director Sam Gold wanted to change that and to reimagine The Glass Menagerie as a story where traditionally meek and shy Laura has more agency. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:
More to the point, [Gold] noted, much of [the criticism against the production] exposes the larger problem of ignorance about disability. “The theater community, the people who make it and the people who go see it and the people who write about it, are mostly people who think of themselves as open-minded, progressive people. They’re people who would like to be on the right side of identity politics and inclusion and diversity. And a lot of those people have a real blind spot when it comes to the disability community,” Gold said. “They’re not seeing that the way they’re perceiving the production is colored by an inability to look at that community with an open mind.”
About her role in making a statement, Ferris reiterated that she wants her acting to speak for itself so that she’s not known solely for “being an inspiration or being considered brave.” At the same time, she recognizes how few representations of disability there are onstage, and she’s willing to speak out about why she hopes to see that change.
“There are many reasons why I act, and one of them is I’m tired of seeing the same bodies all the time, in general, and I think a lot of people are, in terms of race and body shape and ability,” Ferris said. “It’s just so boring all the time to see the same people onscreen [and onstage]. And it’s just not life either.”
You can read the full profile on BuzzFeed.
[Production photo by Julieta Cervantes]