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Depicting Cerebral Palsy on stage

MartinCMartinC Posts: 4Member Listener
First time poster. I hope this doesn't come over as offensive or insensitive. I am a theatre director working with Titchfield Festival Theatre. I am directing A Day in the Death of Joe Egg by Peter Nichols in November. If you don't know the story it's about the difficulties a couple face with their disabled daughter Joe. It's a great play and full of dark humour but it's sensitive too. However it was written in 1967 and says as much about the mores of the time as the condition of CP itself. It calls for a young female actor to play Joe. Joe's part is yet to be cast and I don't want to assume straight away that only an able-bodied actor could fulfil this role but I, and the cast, need to know more about CP and its effects. Is there any local groups in south Hampshire I could contact to talk about this subject or does any one here have any guidance or help they could offer me?

Thank you. 
Martin Crawley

Replies

  • Chris_ScopeChris_Scope Posts: 695Member Pioneering
    Hi MartinC, welcome to the community. If you'd like to know more about cerebral palsy, our information pages are a good place to start. One thing to note from the start I think is that there are a number of different types of cerebral palsy and different severities of these. 

    I'm sure that there are many people on here who will be happy to share their experiences with you. And on the subject of casting, I think you might be interested to read our guest post from a little while ago which asks  'Are enough disabled actors in theatre'. Also worth checking out this short video by RJ Mitte (Walt Jr on Breaking Bad), in which he talks about living with cerebral palsy and acting.
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @MartinC I think it's important that you don't "assume straight away that only an able-bodied actor could fulfil this role". 

    If the character has cerebral palsy, wouldn't it be wise to cast an actor who has CP? 

    Perhaps look at agencies or put a casting call on social media?
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • Chris_ScopeChris_Scope Posts: 695Member Pioneering
    @MartinC, on the note of agencies, there's one here which has a number of actors with cerebral palsy on its roster.
  • MartinCMartinC Posts: 4Member Listener
    Thank you Chris, I will take your advice and check through the pages. I have to say I'm a big fan of RJ Mitte and was knocked out by his performance in BB.

    Thank you Sam, but I think I did actually say I wasn't assuming anything about the actor needed. However, at the end of act 1 the play calls for the actor playing Joe Egg to come on to the stage skipping and singing. I can't know what exactly Peter Nichols was thinking but I take it as meaning that, despite her disability, Joe is in fact as 'normal' as anyone else inside her head. We're an amateur group that doesn't often hire professional actors as our budgets don't usually stretch that far and we have a large pool of talented unpaid actors. I agree with your idea about social media and will probably try that once I have a better handle on the condition. If I can I would like very much to cast an actor with some form of CP as this is the honest thing to do.
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    Social media is a great tool for finding amateur actors, best of luck! 
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @MartinC how did the play go?
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • MartinCMartinC Posts: 4Member Listener
    Hi Sam,

    Thanks for your interest. The play has been cast but doesn't go up until November. I'll post more details closer to the date.
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