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INTERNAL BLEEDING Workshop

Christine Toy Johnson
Year Grant Awarded 2010

Email > CTJ@christinetoyjohnson.com
State > NY Zip Code > 10033
Website > http://www.christinetoyjohnson.com
Website > http://www.inclusioninthearts.com

A note from the playwright: INTERNAL BLEEDING is a story about family, forgiveness and the universal yearning for approval, which transcends ethnicity, gender and presence/absence of a disability. I was thrilled to have this opportunity to re-imagine the play -- with support from the Puffin Foundation and others -- casting a disabled actor in a lead role which I originally wrote as both disabled and non-disabled.
Since the story is told in a non-linear way, when I first thought of doing this, it was clear that the challenge would be that the character of "Benjamin", in the present, has paraplegia and is a wheelchair user, but in the past, he is an Olympic bound gymnast. Though casting two different actors had been suggested by some as a possible approach, I did not want to send the message that this character became a different person after his injury. I honestly was not sure what would work when I first proposed the workshop, but I have now done a rewrite that makes the story emerge from Benjamin's point of view in the present, making it a certain kind of memory play -- and I've found that this has made the storytelling deeper and more meaningful in ways that I never really considered before. I was especially fortunate to have television/film star Daryl "Chill" Mitchell playing Benjamin, and the wonderful and wise Robert McQueen directing.
Though it is always assumed that a character who is written as disabled can be played by an actor who is not disabled -- the opposite is rarely considered. It is my hope that with this work, we will set a precedent for trying to creatively find solutions to work with actors with disabilities.

INTERNAL BLEEDING is available for reading and production. Please visit my website for more information (www.christinetoyjohnson.com).