A new stage production in Regina is tackling the stigma surrounding people who live with disabilities and their need for love, romance and intimacy.
Mine to Have: Sensuality and Circumstances is the latest production from Listen to Dis, which describes itself as a disability-led disability arts organization.
Actor John Loeppky, who uses a wheelchair, says the play centres around people living with disabilities being seen as people who have relationships and sex.
“Relationships for everyone – but particularly, disabled people – are as varied and as misunderstood in equal measure,” Loeppky said.
“There’s a lack of understanding in what relationships can look like and it’s not two disabled people and it’s not forced loneliness. Just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you can’t be in a relationship.”
Loeppky said Mine To Have explores situations performers have faced in their own lives.
“The other day I went to get on the bus and the bus driver presumed my partner was my care-attendant and then asked her to tie me on to the bus,” he said.
While the play uses comedy and musical numbers to help drive home the message, there’s also a serious undertone.
One scene involves performer Natasha Urkow out at the bar with her friends when a stranger, played by Donny Ready, approaches her and calls her cute.
“You think this is cute?” Urkow’s character responds, before listing off all the things Ready’s character would have to go through while dating someone in a wheelchair, including the use of adult diapers, feeding her soup and always sitting in the front row during movies.
Since the play is made up of real-life experiences, Loeppky’s own relationship with stage manager Karlee Rabby is included in the story.
“I had a relative who, when I started dating John … asked if I was a devotee, just because that’s a lot of people’s only idea of what a person in a wheelchair and a person that is able-bodied can be in a relationship,” Rabby said.
A devotee is someone with a fetish for people with disabilities.
“That’s not the case at all. I just love John because he’s John.”
Director and playwright Traci Foster said seeing the real-life relationship grow between Loeppky and Rabby contributed a lot to the final product.
“It was just so obvious and in your face that it’s just simply love. It’s not disabled and non-disabled, it’s simply love,” Foster said.
Foster noted disabled culture is only one people can “become a member of at any moment, of any day, without choice – and that’s a scary thing.”
“But we’re not scary people,” Foster added with a laugh.
Mine to Have will be performed at the Artesian June 20-23 with the possibility of an additional show.
Tickets are available online and at the door.