It’s an exciting time in the Toronto arts scene as our stages finally begin to reflect the diverse community around us. Unfortunately, disabled folks continue to be left behind. When the team at The Disability Collective realized that there were no fully disability-led arts organizations producing disability theatre in Ontario, they realized that this was the root of the problem, and thus The Disability Collective was founded.
Hi! We are Emily, Ali, and Nathan, and we make up the team at The Disability Collective. We are three disabled humans with backgrounds in theatre, and we came into our work as producers, advocates, and educators with huge dreams and very little experience when it comes to building an organization. That is where the incredible team at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre came in. We were so thrilled when the incredible Daniel Carter, Managing Director at Buddies, approached us with the Emerging Company in Residence program. Since November 2022, we have been working closely with Daniel who has been sharing an abundance of knowledge and mentorship as we build the foundation for our organization.
So, what is The Disability Collective? The Disability Collective is a not-for-profit organization and community of disabled artists dedicated to celebrating and showcasing disability in the arts. We strive to de-stigmatize and challenge perceptions of disability through promoting disabled artists in a variety of forms. Since our inception in late 2020, we have produced a variety of events focused on celebrating disabled voices and stories, including a virtual showcase, online workshops, a short film screening, an online campaign for disability rights, a theatre for young audiences production, and an artisan market.
Throughout our time with Buddies, we have learned an incredible amount from Daniel and are grateful to be learning from and collaborating with an organization that is dedicated to developing queer voices and stories for the stage, and creating truly inclusive and safe spaces for the queer community. Our work with Buddies has helped us to grow immensely as an organization, and has also opened the door to authentically co-producing queer and disability-focused events. This has been a goal of our organization since our inception, as we recognize that disability has a compounded impact on those at the intersection of other marginalized communities, such as Black, Indigenous, and 2LGBTQIA+ communities, people of colour, women and femmes, fat people, religious minorities, and more. Queer spaces have not always been accessible or welcoming for disabled folks, and we are committed to making safe and inclusive spaces for queer disabled folks in our community!
And now for a super seamless segue…let’s talk about CRIPtonite! CRIPtonite is a brand-new, disability-led drag and burlesque show! Featuring an incredible selection of disabled drag and burlesque performers (hint hint…check out our Instagram @disabilitycollective for the full lineup!), we’re so excited to be celebrating the intersectionality of queer and disabled identities in a theatre that represents the epitome of queer art in Toronto.
CRIPtonite will take place at Buddies in Tallulah’s Cabaret on Saturday, March 25 at 8 PM. As accessibility is at the forefront of what we do, we are very excited to be joined by Gaitrie Persaud-Killings, who will be providing Deaf Interpretation and performing alongside the drag and burlesque artists. Tickets are pay what you can, and we encourage you to take advantage of the various price points to best accommodate your budget!
Above all else, the safety of our community is our number one priority. CRIPtonite will be a masked event, and we are thrilled to be offering a livestream option for folks to enjoy the show from the comfort of their own homes! Shoutout to our cross-Canada and international pals, we’d love to see you online! Tickets are sold out for the in-person event but are still available for the livestream at thedisabilitycollective.com/tickets!
We couldn’t end off this blog post without acknowledging that drag artists and performers are currently under attack. Now more than ever, it is crucial to champion and fight for these spaces to keep our communities safe. At The Disability Collective, we are dedicated to creating spaces where drag performers feel safe and protected, and paying drag artists adequately for their work to ensure that drag as an art form lives on. From now until March 25th, every donation made through our website will go directly to the disabled artists performing in CRIPtonite. Donate today at thedisabilitycollective.com/donate.
In a world where safe spaces for folks to celebrate their intersectionalities are few and far between, we’re trying to create worlds that don’t exist – if only for a night…or a CRIPtonite.
CRIPtonite will take place on Saturday, March 25 at Buddies. Click here for tickets and info.