Looking beyond a disability and experiencing the joy of music, Wheel Voices: Tune In! weaves personal stories rooted in the disability experience with passionate anthemic scenes, and a hilarious comedic take on revenge fantasy.
“I wouldn’t call it a musical,” says Caitriona Murphy, Wheel Voices: Tune In!’s musical director. “It’s about music: How music affects us and how music is a part of our lives. So, we have combined music and theatre and we created this piece about the participants and their personalities.”
Tune In! Virtually
Murphy, a professional music therapist, is also an actor and musician and this showcase was a perfect project.
“For me, it is a perfect marriage of all that I do: working with people who are not necessarily musicians to help express themselves with music,” she says.
Although this was a project Murphy and the rest of the company was well equipped to handle, the pandemic did throw some unique challenges their way. The show was supposed to be performed last May, however due to the pandemic and strict lockdown procedures of last year, the showcase had to be halted.
“We had barely begun when lockdown happened, in fact some of our participants were of the first people to be locked down, because some of them have disabilities and live at group homes and their health affects other people,” says Murphy.
The production did have some previous experience with virtual meetings using Zoom with participants who lived a bit too far away. All they did now was use that model for all participants, and work continued.
“We were kind of ahead of the curve on that one,” says Murphy.
The bulk of the work was there ready to be worked, and when it became clear live performances were in no one’s near future, the plan was to adapt the material and go online with it.
“Our material, we had. So, then it was just rehearsing and creating an online show,” says Murphy.
This process was new to all involved and even the professionals were learning on the fly about how to create a virtual live experience. Murphy goes on to praise all the participants that trusted the production and came along for this unique ride.
See the person-hood
Wheel Voices: Tune In!’s cast is made up of 14 Vancouver-based community artists that perform an eclectic mix of rap music, spoken word, choral pieces and even some original scenes.
Murphy hopes everyone will hear about the disability experience from those who live with disabilities.
“It is a great show with dynamic characters and good music, but the material centers around people explaining what it is like to live this life,” says Murphy.
She goes on to explain that yes, these are people who live with certain disabilities, but the show asks the audience to see the person and not just the disability.
“It is saying look at the person-hood. I am not a disability; I am a person living with a disability. I am also a person who sings and I am a person who plays an instrument,” she explains.
Although the idea of Zoom meetings now seems old hat, for a company to want to rehearse and put together a theatre show virtually almost goes against what the idea of the theatre is.
“Theatre is so much about being together and the collective energy we use to produce the show. So, for these folks to be alone in their rooms, just emoting and giving us everything they had so that we could eventually put it all together and edit it, was really astonishing,” says Murphy.
Realwheels Theatre will present their latest show, Wheel Voices: Tune In!on May 14. Because of COVID restrictions the show will be showcased as a virtual performance. There is no plan to revive this show once some of the restrictions are lifted.
For more information please visit: www.realwheels.ca