Welcome to 2022 and our 1st article sharing ADCID developments, exploring new ways of working, and discovering how to Imagine Possibilities that go beyond what was though possible.
For ten years, Aiding Dramatic Change in Development has been empowering and networking adults with advanced cerebral palsy—or in co-founder Stephen Sillett’s words, “co-creating inspirational experiences where people can explore and influence the world around them.” Every year since 2017, ADCID has presented Come to the Edge, where members of the Imagining Possibilities Movement bring their new form of world building into a public immersive theatre event. Here the audience is inspired to actively participate, and here participants can bring their dreamscapes to life and share them with the able-bodied public. In late 2019, Stephen had planned to expand productions to Hamilton and St. Catherines. Then COVID hit.
“They had a looping scene—just a pre-framed scene that the actor was in. So for instance, you’re currently sitting on this sofa by the fireplace. So this would be—the camera would be locked off, and then they would do a looping action in that Zoom room… I thought, ‘that’s a nice way of doing it.’”
Another source of inspiration has been Complexity Weekend, an online participatory community of complexity scientists, consultants, programmers, entrepreneurs and complexity science enthusiasts. One ADCID staff member, Frank Hull, has co-presented at Complexity Weekend on the topic of Disability Arts. Débora Barrientos (contributor to ImaginAction and Social Presencing Theatre) has also co-presented with Stephen, teaming up to explore novel facilitation methods. At Complexity Weekend, Stephen also met Alex Barnes, a Toronto-based accredited investor who is currently helping ADCID.
Stephen’s collaborations at Complexity Weekend also led him to Gather.Town, a social media platform with attractive pixel graphics which draws its user interface from 32-bit video games. As the theory behind his productions is inherently spatial, Stephen instantly saw the potential for use: “I’ve actually facilitated session in Gather using Map of Meaningful Life and Work in Gather.Town—‘cause one thing I like about Gather.Town is, you can sort of—as if you’re looking from above. And then what that does is, it starts to make activities which you would do in a room, be like you’re in the room.” Now that ADCID is able to engage with the Community-building grants from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Stephen has scaled collaborations with videographers, illustrators, animators, green screen artists and dramatic producers to bring his colleagues’ approaches in an immersive digital realm. Gather.Town has provided Stephen with a practical solution to COVID: if he can no longer bring his participants to their productions, he will push the hybrid virtual platforms to bring productions to his participants.