How a deaf performer in B.C. is helping make theatre more inclusive
Rachel Kelly, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, June 20, 2018 10:46PM EDT
A deaf actor is using art and advocacy to break down stereotypes and make a place for performers with disabilities in Canadian theatre.
Landon Krentz takes to the stage to demonstrate that his disability does not affect his talent.
"I would like to make something that is art for everyone," Krentz told CTV News through an interpreter.
The 28-year-old says he was born with a love for theatre, but he was not always given the opportunity to showcase his passion. In high school, he auditioned for a production of Alice in Wonderland but did not get a part. Krentz said he was rejected because he was deaf.
He set out to prove that deaf performers do belong on stage. He is currently involved with Wheel Voices Power Play by Realwheels Theatre, an interactive theatre experience led by deaf performers and performers with disabilities.
He has also spent a few years working as a general manager for Theatre Terrific in Vancouver.
In addition to performing, Krentz is also known for his activism work on social media, including his YouTube channel featuring American Sign Language (ASL) interpretations of songs. His self-portrait, "The Value," was widely shared on Facebook for demonstrating the barriers facing the deaf community.
According to Statistics Canada data from 2012, approximately 14 per cent of Canadians identify as having a disability. Advocates say they are seldom reflected in film, TV and commercial theatre.
Rena Cohen, the managing artistic director of Realwheels Theatre, said that people with disabilities don't have the same opportunities for training in performing arts.
"There has to be accommodation around different abilities," she told CTV News, adding that theatre venues also have to be more accessible for everyone, including people who use wheelchairs.
"I would love to see a lot more representation of disability on Canadian stages," Cohen said.
With a report from CTV's Vancouver Bureau Chief Melanie Nagy