Live theater in New Westminster: Massey presents an activist play

There are half a million people with intellectual disabilities of working age in Canada, but only 25% of them are employed.

A group of self-advocates uses theater to convey a message: people with disabilities are able to work and they deserve a job.

We deserve to work is on stage at the Massey Theater in November, with performances on November 18, 19 and 20.

The play is written by the same team of self-advocates and theater artists who created Love, Relationships and Rights in 2019. Self-Advocates, supported by the Community Living Society, the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship and the Massey Theatre, are now shining a spotlight on the world of work – and the barriers faced by people with disabilities in the workplace. work.

A news release notes that research shows there are approximately 500,000 working-age people with intellectual disabilities in Canada, but only one in four, or 25%, are employed.

Dana Faris, one of the co-creators and actors, said that a project like We deserve to work important to get the message out and to raise awareness that people with disabilities are capable of doing work.

“The main message of this piece is that everyone deserves a chance to work. It doesn’t matter who you are, whether you have a disability or not. If we stick with it, we can do anything,” Faris said in the statement.

The project began in January 2021, when the co-creators began the research process for their piece. They worked on this research for months, working with a leadership team to lead three focus groups with employment specialists, self-advocates and employers to help come up with ideas for the show.

From September 2021 to June 2022, the group used this material to design a play and the workshop for a test audience.

“I’m very passionate about employment because very often people (with disabilities) get generic jobs and their specific skills are overlooked,” said Larissa Gunkel, co-creator and actress. “And often people are treated like they’re not equal, like they’re not getting equal pay. … I want to make sure we have a voice, and so I’m very passionate about the possibility of putting this piece together.

Massey Theater executive director Jessica Schneider said the theater was pleased to be able to support the project.

“Access and inclusion in creativity and self-expression is a fundamental right of everyone,” she said. “We are very happy to help self-advocates fully participate in the performing arts. We know seeing their projects on stage can inspire others to become more inclusive employers and citizens. »

We deserve to work lasts one hour, followed by a 20-minute discussion with the co-creators after each performance.

A reception will follow Saturday’s performance; the public can join the co-creators, creative team and project partners for light refreshments and conversation.


  • What: We deserve to worka militant play by a group of self-advocates and theater artists
  • Where: Massey Theater, 735 Eighth Avenue.
  • When: Friday 18 November at 12.30 p.m.; Saturday 19 November at 7.30 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 20 at 2 p.m.
  • Tickets: $7 to $29, on an accessible sliding scale (please pay what you can). Call 604-521-5050, book online, or find more information on the Massey Theater website.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
Email Julie, [email protected]

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