Unlimited Ability: Disabled Actors Show their Stuff
Wheelchairs or crutches were no handicaps for disabled performers from India who dazzled the audience with their dramatic skills at the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple. A Siliconeer report.
Eight disabled performers belonging to the Unlimited Ability company fully justified their billing as they presented a two-hour-long performance to a spellbound audience at the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple July 27, undeterred by handicaps like crutches and wheelchairs.
The show made its U.S. West Coast debut in Sunnyvale, Calif., later presenting performances in Norwalk in Southern California and Phoenix, Ariz.
The show featured performers in elaborate costumes presenting scenes from the story of Durga in the Hindu Puranas, the Ramayana, and the Bhagavad Gita in the Mahabharata as well as scenes depicting the baptism and temptations of Jesus and the miracles he performed when he healed the blind and raised Lazarus from the dead.
Founded in New Delhi by choreographer Sallauddin Pasha 25 years ago, the Unlimited Ability company is the first professional dance-theater company in India to train and employ handicapped people and use innovative choreographed works and public performances to integrate the arts with career opportunities and training.
Since its founding, the company has presented more that 100 different productions and to date has registered approximately 15,000 artists throughout India whose talents are showcased through professional venues.
The eight performers were equal to 50, Pasha said jocularly, adding that each actor played anywhere from eight to ten characters.
The Unlimited Ability U.S. tour is presented by Georgy Bhalla’s New Jersey-based Catch the Rhythms production company, which plans to raise funds from future Unlimited Ability performances to construct the first disabled-friendly auditorium in New Delhi.
The facility, which will cater largely to audiences in wheelchairs, is still in the planning stage. Pasha said that the company was working with architects and determining the cost. Such an auditorium will be a first of its kind in India.
Despite a mammoth 17-million-strong disabled community, India is not a disabled-friendly country, Pasha laments. Pasha calls the Unlimited Ability performances a revolution in India. He said the company carries a great message of dignity, equality, inclusivity of education and employment for the persons of disability.