Accessibility Labs

A series of experiments integrating accessibility practices within the artistic process

Photo credits (top l – bottom r): Photo of Lee Su-Feh, Travis Knights and Courage Bacchus in an Augmented Reality format on the app by Kourtney Jackson. Photo of Tringa Rexhepi and Xhemi Agaj by Ulla Laidlaw. Photo of Giacomo Volpe. Photo of Lindsay Anne Black (on Zoom Screen) by Kourtney Jackson. Photo of performers and Jessica Runge, Tylee Jones by Dahlia Katz. Photo of Tamyka Bullen and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard by Kourtney Jackson

Two years ago, we embarked to create experiments in accessibility practices by simultaneously exploring artistic and dramaturgical integration as well as exploring more efficient budgeting led by innovation. We are so pleased to be able to release this 7-part short documentary series, for FREE viewing online. We hope that these videos help you get a more intimate experience of the work and the learnings and thus, inspire you to use them within your own projects. Enjoy!

Accessibility Labs by Theatre Passe Muraille was made possible through the support of Toronto Arts Council’s Open Door Grant.

Project Coordinator: Indrit Kasapi | Assistant Project Coordinator: Bilal Baig

Video Consultation: Kourtney Jackson | Video Captions by: Elizabeth Staples

Episode 1: Exploring ways to make a dance show accessible to Deaf and Blind audiences | Watch now

Episode 2: Exploring in-ear English and Albanian translations for TOKA | Watch now

Episode 3: Exploring how to make tap dance more accessible to Deaf audiences via vibrating devices | Watch now

Episode 4: Exploring how a Deaf and hearing artist can work together without ASL-English interpretation | Watch now

Episode 5: Working on a new opera incorporating Deaf culture and ASL into the narrative and form | Watch now

Episode 6: Providing ASL interpretation via augmented reality on various devices | Watch now

Episode 7: Developing and presenting an entirely virtual show, working with disabled artists who might not otherwise be able to be physically present in the room | Watch now

Marjorie is an east asian woman with long black hair that comes below her shoulders. in the photo she is wearing a toned-down red lipstick and a white dress with black patterns
Marjorie Chan | Artistic Director

A Message from Marjorie

“This additional week we are calling ‘Accessibility Lab’ is a practice that TPM dearly wants to continue to support.” 

At TPM, we strongly believe that making theatre accessible makes the work better and leads to more exciting experiences for everyone.

While we have been and will continue to provide a broad range of access points for our productions, this series of experiments has come at an exciting juncture as the theatre community and artists as a whole are embracing accessibility like never before. The experiments led TPM artists to more creatively imagine inclusive aesthetics by providing a workshop, several months before production in order to test and trial various new accessibility methods.

The extra week-long workshop with a dedicated focus on accessibility meant that artists could have deeper engagements with community consultants and better integrate everything at an earlier stage of the process, and create work that is more innovative, aesthetically aligned and accessible. 

Best, Marjorie

For any questions please contact Indrit Kasapi at indritk@passemuraille.on.ca

1. Theatre Direct Canada

Exploring embedded Relaxed Audio Description with Kat Germain 

Jessica Runge and Tylee Jones are on stage, smiling and talking confidently. Jessica is holding up a feather. The lighting is pink and blue and very flow
Photo of performers Jessica Runge and Tylee Jones by Dahlia Katz

Theatre Direct developed and produced a Relaxed Audio Description created by Kat Germain for the presentation of FLYING HEARTS. This relaxed audio description was recorded and embedded into the show so the show could tour without a live audio describer. 

Created by Michelle Silagy and Lynda Hill | Original Music Composed by Cathy Nosaty | Set Design by Jung Hye Kim | Costume Design by Jennifer Dallas | Lighting Design by Jennifer Lennon | Relaxed Audio Description by Kat Germain | Starring Allison Basha, Lucas Penner, Jake Ramos & Jessica Runge

2. Battery Opera

Exploring ways to make a dance show accessible to Deaf and Blind audiences

The Things I Carry is a work that was developed during the Migrant Bodies Project, an E.U.-sponsored choreographic project aimed at opening up a civic and artistic reflection on migrations and their cultural impact for European and Canadian societies which was presented by TPM at Scadding Court Community Centre.

Concept, Choreography and Performance: Lee Su-Feh | Dramaturgy: Alessandro Sciarroni | Text: Lee Su-Feh, with excerpts from On A Plane, by Chris Bose | Sound Design: Junhong McIntosh-Lee, Lee Su-Feh | Song: Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell | Deaf Community Consultant: Catherine MacKinnon | Additional Deaf Community consultants: Courage Bacchus, Tamyka Bullen | Blind Community Consultant: Alex Bulmer | Additional Blind and low vision community consultants: Vivien Chong, Taylor Katzel | Other community consultants: Kat Germain, Rebecca Singh | ASL-English Interpreter: Tara Everett

3. Deaf Spectrum, SummerWorks, and Generator

Exploring multiple approaches to ASL Interpretation 

Performers are sitting on stage looking at Thurga as she signs. Everyone is wearing black on a dim, purple stage.
Snapshot from the livestream of the workshop featuring l-r : Sage Lovell, Carmelle Cachero (interpreter) , Derek Kwan, Suchiththa Wickremesooriya, Rogue Benjamin (interpreter) Thurga Kanagasekarampillai

Deaf Spectrum in collaboration with SummerWorks and Generator, hosted a one week workshop called CREATING SIGN LANGUAGE MAGIC, that looked at multiple approaches, using select performance excerpts to demonstrate interpretation, shadowing, and acting practices. In addition, participants had the opportunity to try their hand at what they learned in small groups. 

Directed by Sage Lovell | Performed by Thurga Kanagasekarampillai, Derek Kwan, Gaitrie Persaud and Suchiththa Wickremesooriya

4. lemonTree creations

Exploring in-ear English and Albanian translations

lemonTree creations explored ways in which it could provide live in-ear translation into Albanian of their project TOKA, a story inspired by the blood feuds in the Northern parts of Albania. 

Written and Choreographed by Indrit Kasapi | Directed and Dramaturged by Cole Alvis | Performers: Arlen Aguayo Stewart (Arjola), Christopher Manousos (Ermal), Riley Sims (Ermal), Tringa Rexhepi (Arjola in Albanian), Xhemi Agaj (Ermal in Albanian) | Community Consultants: Tatjana Kasapi, Pellumb Kasapi, Drita Jorganxhi, Borana Makri, Aspasia Mehilli, Hana Marku, Nora Marku, Kejd Kuqo

5. Anandam Dance Theatre / Vibrafusion Lab

Exploring how to make tap dance more accessible to Deaf audiences via vibrating devices

Anandam Dance Theatre explored  making tap dance visually more exciting as well look at ways in which the show could be live captioned. 

Created by Travis Knights and Brandy Leary | Directed and Dramaturged by Brandy Leary | Choreography by Travis Knights and Brandy Leary | Deaf Community Consultant, Jenelle Rouse | Additional Deaf Community ConsultantsSage Noble, Courage Bacchus, Tamyka Bullen, Ralitsa Rodriguez, Gaitrie Persaud, Thurga Kanagasekarampillai 

Vibrating Straps provided by VibraFusion Lab, David Bobier and Jim Ruxton.

6. Tamyka Bullen and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard

Exploring how a Deaf and hearing artist can work together without ASL-English interpretation

Artists, Tamyka Bullen and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard workshop a new piece of theatre entitled IN DEFENSE OF THE SERPENT and explore ways in which a Deaf and hearing duo of artists can create work together without the active participation of ASL interpreters. 

Created and performed by Tamyka Bullen and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard | Dramaturgical consultation: Jiv Parasram and Marjorie Chan | ASL-English Interpreters: Marcia Martins, Carmelle Cachero. 

7. Giacomo Volpe, Anna Chatterton, and Gareth Williams

Working on a new opera incorporating Deaf culture and ASL into the narrative and form

Giacomo Volpe, Anna Chatterton, and Gareth Williams collaborated virtually and explored the ways in which Deaf and hearing artists can envision a new opera that integrated American Sign Language and Deaf culture into the story from the beginning. 

Co-creator (Libretto), Giacomo Volpe and Anna Chatterton | Co-creator (Composer), Gareth Williams | Dramaturgy and Direction by Marjorie Chan and Catherine MacKinnon | ASL-English Interpretation by Marcia Martins and Carmelle Cachero

8. The team behind 11:11, cohort & Toasterlab

Providing ASL interpretation via augmented reality on various devices

Samson Bonkeabantu Brown and Tsholo Khalema continue development of 11:11 and were paired up with  Mixed Reality creators to explore the integration of American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and captioning through Augmented Reality. 

Writer/Performer: Samson Bonkeabantu Brown | Director: Tsholo Khalema |Deaf Community ConsultantJenelle Rouse | Deaf Interpreter: Courage Bacchus | ASL-English Interpreter: Marcia Martins, Carmelle Cachero | Community ConsultantGaitrie Persaud | Augmented Reality Team,  Toaster Lab: Ian Garrett | Augmented Reality Team, Cohort InitiativeJacob Niedzwieck, Melissa Joakim, Nabeel Kassam

9. The team behind Wall With Door

Developing and presenting an entirely virtual show, working with disabled artists who might not otherwise be able to be physically present in the room

Theatre Passe Muraille invited Artist-in-Residence, Katie Ready-Walters to continue development on her new work, WALL WITH A DOOR, while also exploring how theatre can be developed and presented virtually to allow accessibility for artists who might not otherwise be able to be physically present in the room. 

Written and Performed by Katie Ready-Walters | Dramaturged and Directed by Marjorie Chan | Assistant Director: Rinchen Dolma | Assistant Dramaturg: Merlin Simard | Lighting Designer: Echo Zhou | Costume and Set Designer: Lindsay Anne Black | Stage Manager & Production Assistant: Nicole Eun-Ju Bell | House Technician: David Fisher | Livestream Coordinator: Christopher Ross | Captioning by Marlene Finnegan  – Canadian Hearing Services