Communique: Joseph Sisk Performs With "Theatre For All"

Jun 7, 2017

Theatre For All is Wilmington's theatre company for people with disabilities. The troupe presents its spring show, The Magic Moment, in one final performance tonight, June 7, at Theatre Now. Showtime is 7:00pm. One of the actors, Joseph Sisk, talked about the group and the show; listen above. See an extended transcript below. 

Joseph Sisk
Credit Gina Gambony

Joseph:  Theatre For All is a group for people with disabilities. I've been there since Christmas of last year (2015). And I really enjoy it, my best friend actually got me started in Theater For All.

I have a little bit of theater background. I started when I was really young in elementary school. I mean, in middle school I started doing chorus and I didn't really like that as much. But the theater is my passion, it's a good outlet for me. I'm normally a shy person but with theater I get more out of my shell if you know what I mean.

Gina: And what is the play that Theater For All is presenting?

Joseph: This show is called The Magic Moment, and it's about dull town, they are really dull and they do monotonous things over and over again. But something happened, something strange happens in the air and it changes people's lives forever through I guess you would say like magical karma.

Gina: And what is the part that you're playing in the show?

Joseph: I am playing a reporter that reports on all the strange happenings of the town.

And at first you know he doesn't really believe that this is happening and then he starts to slowly understand that it is happening, and just has fun with it.

Gina: Tell us about your disability. Particularly for our listeners because they they can't see you.

Joseph: It’s called mild cerebral palsy. It only affects my legs. When I was born, it was in 89, and they didn't have the technology to fix cerebral palsy. So that made me without the ability to walk.

But I have a brilliant mind and I am getting a degree, I want to be a teacher actually for elementary school kids.

Gina: You been in a wheelchair for your whole life.

Joseph: I have since I was three years old.

Theatre For All cast of the 2017 spring show, The Magic Moment
Credit Theatre For All

Gina: A little tiny one.

Joseph: Yes.

Gina: I know it affects the fact that you can't walk. Does it have any other effects?

 

Joseph: It affects other people, to be honest, because people look at me like I can't do certain things. Obviously I can't physically, but they kind of feel pity on me a little bit because I'm in a wheelchair. Because they see that and they assume that I can't do more than I can. So I try to tell them that I can do it. And it kind of frustrates me sometimes because they want to do. They insist on doing stuff for me even though I can do it.

Gina: What kind of advice do you have for people who are interacting with someone in a wheelchair?

Joseph: What they really need to know is they need to ask the person- if they can communicate efficiently what they really do need. And most people will want help, but most people if you just ask them what they need, maybe get them get something for them off a high shelf or open a door, that's most helpful. Obviously, if they need help pushing the chair, they'll tell the person. But with me I try to do as much as possible on my own.

Gina: I think some people feel like, oh if I don't help them, this person is going to think I don't care.

Joseph: But I think the easiest way is to ask the person if they need help, not assume and just do it.

My biggest issue [in theater] is space backstage because backstage is very very tight with tight corners. Is there any way we could like make the backstage bigger? That would help a lot for people and me. And basically it's not very wheelchair-friendly.

Gina: Do you feel like being in the wheelchair makes people afraid to talk to you or does it make a barrier out in public?

Joseph: For people... it's almost kind of like they feel uncomfortable because I'm in a wheelchair. But once they get talking to me, the anxiety for them slowly goes away. But with me it's not an issue at all. I don't even think about it. Sometimes I don't realize I'm in a wheelchair until I look down.

Gina: Will you tell me a little bit about some of the other people who are in the group Theater For All?

Joseph: There are several actually in our group and my best friend. He is a fabulous comedian. I mean he makes me laugh just looking at him. He's wonderful. He does comedy on the side. His name is Allon Nir and he has been my best friend for over two years now. He's very good at improvising. I've noticed that in our past shows, he's very good at thinking on the spot whereas me, I have to write it down and memorize it and do it. But he can do it at the drop of a hat.

And with Casey, she is a trip, she is. She loves to dance and just a mess, she's a mess. And Shah is a brilliant poet. He does poetry on the side too.

Everybody I've met even my family members have said I'm so looking forward to our next show.

Other troupe members in Theatre For All
Credit Dylan Patterson/TFA

Outside of Theater For All I am actually an author, I’ve published three books. They're fantasy. My ultimate goal is to be a teacher or to teach creative writing to young students who have a passion for learning about literature and writing.

Gina: What age do you want to work with?

Joseph: My age range would be about eight to 10.

Gina: Is there a way for us to read your books?

Joseph: Yes, there is. You can go to Kindle if you have a Kindle, you can also order them online, you can order them at Amazon.

Gina: What are the titles?

Joseph: The main title is Chronicles of the Vanquished. The first one is The Crystal of Light. The second one is the Tablet of Dreams. And finally, the third one is the Gold of Youth.

Gina: When did you write these?

Joseph: It was span of six years. But I published them starting in 2010. So I produced a book a year so that was hard. But I had some help, I had my grandmother. She's no longer with us but she was fabulous with editing and help me pick out each title of the book. She was a very good influence on me. And I miss her deeply.   

Theatre For All was initiated by Dylan Patterson. Directors are Kim Henry and Gina Gambony (the interviewer). In addition to this Saturday morning theater group, Kim Henry visits classrooms in Theatre For All outreach. The program is part of The Superstar Academy; Zach Hanner is the Artistic Director.