AccessCheck back this spring for more info about general and specialized access features for our upcoming production, or contact us with any questions, ideas, or requests regarding access or accommodations: email@example.com . 608-515-8912
In the meantime, feel free to check out the Rotate Theatre Access Chart:
Rotate Theatre Access Chart"Why use an Access Chart?"
We love making theater! We believe in the power of stories and representation to shape our world! We also recognize that theater makers in the United States are vulnerable to capitalism, colonialism, ableism, racism, (cis/mono/hetero)sexism, and environmental degradation. These forces permeate dominant practices, further silencing the most marginalized among us. This creates imbalance and unhealthy spaces and dramatically impacts the demographics and perspectives of those involved in shaping our world through theater and other collaborative storytelling mediums. Without changing our current practices, without changing our present, life-changing stories necessary to create more just futures may never be told. The Rotate Theatre Access Chart is one of the tools we are experimenting with in order to help us live in the present in ways that allow us to imagine and build more just futures.
"What is an Access Chart?"
An Access Chart is a tool to help increase accessibility by providing context-specific information in advance of events and experiences, as well as to invite accommodation requests. Organizers can use Access Charts to communicate with collaborators, colleagues, and/or the general public. Access Charts are living documents that are updated as context changes. Ideally, Access Charts are easy to navigate, skim, and interact with in a piecemeal fashion.
"Do I have to read this Access Chart?"
Nope! This is for folks who would like a little more info about the production in advance (Is there an accessible gender-neutral restroom with frag-free soap? Is there childcare? Does the production involve stage combat? etc). We hope the practice of providing various types of info in chart form will serve performers, other collaborators, and audience members by helping to make productions more accessible1 and transparent.
"How do I use this Access Chart?"
Feel free to jump around in the Access Chart, reading only the items that are important to you at this time. To help with navigation, the chart is broken into six sections:
- Performer Preparation
- Bodyminds2 in Performance
- Built Environments
- Navigating Time, Space, & Interpersonal Situations
- Content Notices & Spoilers
"Will the Access Chart be the same for the next show?"
Nope! Over time, we hope to formalize the topics and formatting to some extent, but Access Charts are production specific and are living documents3 that change over time as context changes.
We frequently make updates and greatly appreciate any insights, suggestions, feedback, strategies, ideas, hacks, or sources you are willing to share as we continually learn more about how to increase accessibility in our practices. We also welcome questions and requests regarding access and accommodations: RotateTheatre@gmail.com . 608-515-8912
For additional info about Access Charts, please see more below the chart.
Please scroll inside the chart to see more topics.
"Are Access Charts a theater thing?"
Yes and no. Access Charts could be useful in many circumstances. The Rotate Theatre Access Chart seen above is designed for theater companies, production teams, and producers to share information with performers, other collaborators, and potential audience members, as well as to invite accommodation requests. This chart is pre-filled with real world information from our spring 2020 production of Brooke Allen's Let's Eat Mary, directed by Richard Paro and produced by Cyra K. Polizzi (that's me! When you see "I" in this document, that's Cyra talking).
"How long have Access Charts been in use?"
In 2019, I started reorganizing access information from handbook form into chart form as part of my transdisciplinary research on theater practice as a grad student at UW Madison. I don't recall encountering an Access Chart before that, but I wouldn't be surprised if this chart is inspired by someone else's design that has been rolling around in my subconscious until I was ready to utilize the format myself. The past, present, and future of my research is connected to my perspectives as an actor, Rotate Theatre and co-founder Richard Paro, 15 years with theatermakers and activists in Chicago, embodied experiences of chronic pain and trauma, my undergrad at UW-Madison in Theatre Acting, Environmental Studies, and Gender & Women's Studies, and growing up performing in the driftless area of rural Wisconsin with a librarian and a potter. Whether I previously encountered a chart like this or not, I am indebted to so many amazing collaborators, teachers, and Disability Justice, Indigenous, Environmental Justice, Queer, and Women of Color feminist activists in helping to identify and develop the strategies and concepts I am currently employing in my practice-focused research (see the list below for some of the sources I am drawing on).
If you have encountered similar charts, we would love to hear about them!
"What are some limitations of Access Charts and how might they be addressed?"
Access Charts only feature access information that organizers think to include. To address this, organizers can:
- Interact with materials distributed by Disability Justice activists.
- Notice how other organizers are improving access at their events, especially underrepresented and marginalized activists.
- Continually revisit the Access Chart and recognize that the work of increasing accessibility is ongoing.
- Include an Access Designer on the production team.
- Include contact info and invite feedback from collaborators and the public, before, during, and after an event.
- Attend conferences and other information-sharing events where access is being discussed and prioritized.
- Notice who is present and who is absent in various situations in everyday life. Consider what barriers to access might be involved in shaping those demographics and how one might learn more about addressing those barriers.
- Give a few simple "how to" style tips and examples along with the Access Chart.
- Instead of deleting topics that seem irrelevant to your current project, simply enter NA on the chart.
- If you encounter another Access Chart, add new topics to your Access Chart.
- Offer contact information and provide access information upon request, as well.
- Include links to more detailed documents on certain topics.
- Use endnotes.
- Spend time trying to make each entry as concise as possible, without losing meaning or readability.
- Break the chart into sections to help with navigation.
- Add symbols.
- Make oneself available for more detailed inquiries.
- Schedule reviews of the chart at various points during organizing.
- Add additional private columns to the chart to note the person on the team who is responsible for handling an item, notes, and deadlines.
- If attendees can work together to accomplish an item (for instance, a fragrance-free space), include that information in other communications (such as audition confirmation emails, ticket confirmation emails, press releases, first meetings, signage, email reminders, the Collaborator Welcome Form, etc)
- Include an Access Designer on the production team to assist with the above.
"Can I use this Access Chart for my project?"
Yes, please do! If this Access Chart could help you to increase accessibility in your work, please feel to copy/paste our chart into your materials or email us for a file. Please be sure to change all the entries to reflect your current project. You may choose to contextualize the Access Chart and reference our work: Rotate Theatre, http://www.rotatetheatre.org/access.html
If you use an Access Chart, we would love to hear about it to help inform our own work! What project are you trying it on, what's working for you, what's not, what changes are you making? Please tell us about it! RotateTheatre@gmail.com . 608-515-8912
1 Regarding access and accessibility, I'm thinking about how various structures impact different people, what assumptions and expectations are made about bodyminds, and, as Clare (xvii) writes, "the nonnegotiable value of body-mind difference." We understand that all situations and people are unique and there is no one fully accessible design, so we are continually working to increase access in our practices. We also understand that our considerations must be wide-ranging, from our built environment (ex. Can the seating, playing space, backstage, and booth all be accessed without stairs?), to the demands various types of scheduling place on bodyminds and communities (ex. How might care providers navigate our scheduling?), to content information (ex. What aspects of the plot can we highlight so people who have experienced trauma can better navigate their interactions with theater?).
2 I use the term "bodymind" to suggest we attend to ourselves holistically and destabilize the false mind-dash-body binary, instead merging the words, not on either side of some imaginary line, but mixed up together as a whole in the larger contexts of our lives in place and time. I am drawing significantly from Feminist Disability Studies, but these concepts are also found in some theories of theater and other embodied practices, and in many non-capitalist worldviews. See Clare (xvi), Price (268), Piepzna-Samarasinha (191), Samuels ("Six Ways"), Zarrilli (13), Federici (146-8).
3 Many artists and activists use "living documents," including Sins Invalid (9) who mark "a point of departure rather than a destination" when writing about Disability Justice and performing arts. It also allows the Access Chart to be a more adaptable tool that can serve more people, instead of getting stuck in one moment and vantage point. This aligns with Simpson's advocacy for Indigenous practices that "are fluid, dynamic, and responsive" (122) rather than fixed regardless of context.
4 Regarding sustainability, I'm thinking about our shared future, structures that allow individuals and communities to continue creating art over time, as well as environmental justice. We learn from Indigenous activists such as Robin Wall Kimmerer who writes: "For the sake of the peoples and the land, the urgent work of the Second Man may be to set aside the ways of the colonist and become indigenous to place. But can Americans, as a nation of immigrants, learn to live as if we were staying? With both feet on the shore? What happens when we truly become native to a place, when we finally make a home? Where are the stories that lead the way?" (206-7) Kimmerer's perspectives on place and stories urges us to shape our practices with attention to past, present, and future relationships between local communities, artists, and the more-than-human world.
5 Regarding feminism, I am paying particular attention to gender as we think about the ways in which oppressive systems are tied up together, destabilizing and replacing those systems, and social justice. Audre Lorde famously said, "There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives." (138) We are influenced by Lorde and others whose work embraces intersectionality, which is a "concept that has its roots in black and woman-of-color feminisms." (Schalk 7)