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Theater Scene Plays Up Life with Disabilities with New Inclusive Production

New York City’s theater scene will get more diverse with the premiere of a new inclusive production centered on life experiences with disabilities. DARK DISABLED STORIES is slated to run February 28 through March 26, 2023 at The Public Theater.

Produced by The Bushwick Starr, DARK DISABLED STORIES is an autobiographical play written and performed by Ryan J. Haddad, an acclaimed playwright and performer who has cerebral palsy. The storyline, presented as a series of unforgiving vignettes, reveals how Haddad navigates the world — and the people within in — even though it’s just not built to accommodate disabilities, as with Haddad’s walker for example. A representative for The Public Theater explains that DARK DISABLED STORIES “probes implicit ableism and the assumptions we make about people we’ll never really know.”

“They’re ordinary, sometimes funny stories that turn dark because of the ways the world is taught to interact with disability, or the measures people take to avoid and ignore disability entirely. I’m excited for audiences to balk, laugh and cringe with me about the ways strangers can be very strange,” Haddad describes.

(The Public Theater)

In an effort to prioritize accessibility for theaters of all abilities, this production is set to integrate American Sign Language (ASL), open captions and audio descriptions into every performance. The Public Theater has also expanded its wheelchair and mobility access accommodations. Plus, to create a more comfortable, inclusive environment, audience etiquette will be relaxed.

In addition to Haddad, the off-Broadway cast includes Dickie Hearts and Alejandra Ospina. Crew members include Jordan Fein (Director), Andrew Morrill (Director of Artistic Sign Language) and Alison Kopit (Accessibility Consultant), among others.

DARK DISABLED STORIES will grace the stage of The Public’s Shiva Theater beginning on Tuesday, February 28 and run through Sunday, March 26, 2023. For tickets, visit, call (212) 967-7555 or visit the Taub Box Office at 425 Lafayette Street. The Public’s Joseph Papp Free Performance initiative will offer free tickets for the February 28 show via TodayTix; the lottery will open for entries on February 21. Members of the disabled community can use the promo code AccessDDS for discounted tickets to all performances.

Nancy DeVault
Nancy is the managing editor of AmeriDisability. She is an award-winning storyteller passionate about health and happiness.

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