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Theatre company creates place for artists with disabilities

Posted at 2:01 PM, Jun 27, 2019

Art has a way of bringing life to the world. Tucked away in Denver, Colorado, there are performers whose abilities and passion are unmatched.

That place is Phamaly Theater Company.

“This is a place where disability and just human difference is redefined,” says Regan Linton, artistic director of Phamaly Theatre. “It transforms the stories we tell, even though we are telling a lot of the same stories that other theatre companies do. We do it in a different way based off the identities of the people in our company.”

Phamaly Theatre Company is a home for theatre artists with disabilities.

“All the actors are exclusively actors with disabilities of all kinds,” Linton says.

According to PTC website, it was founded in 1989 and created when five students from the Boettcher School in Denver, all living with disabilities, grew frustrated with the lack of theatrical opportunities for people living with disabilities. The group decided to create a theatre company that would provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to perform.

“Right now, we are rehearsing for ‘Chicago,’” says Kathleen Traylor, an actress and one of the co-founders of PTC. “Back then, they could figure out how to get a life-size elephant on the stage, but a wheel chair always baffled them.”

Traylor was born with multiple deformities caused by something called amniotic band syndrome. Traylor performs in a wheel chair due to this condition.

“I went to special education schools that was all disabled kids,” Traylor says. “In sixth grade, I was too young to audition for the theater. I watched the very second play that they ever did, and 10 minutes into the show and I forgot the entire cast was all disabled. I just thought I had to be part of that magic.”

Phamaly Theatre Company has been around for 30 years.

“We are changing the nature of how we think of disability – that it’s not a limitation,” Linton says. “It’s not a limiting experience. It actually expands you to be a more complex, interesting, and talented, adaptable human being.”