Invisible disabilities very real

Students from various high schools in Thunder Bay have been working together since the fall of 2016 to write a one act play about Invisible Disabilities, called Invisibles.

Magnus Theatre’s Collective Creation Project participants want you to know one thing: just because it’s invisible, doesn’t mean that it’s not real. Fourteen students from various high schools in Thunder Bay have been working together since the fall of 2016 to write a one act play about invisible disabilities, called Invisibles.

Invisibles is a play about invisible disabilities, which is an umbrella term that encapsulates a spectrum of hidden disabilities. The play follows four students as they deal with an unexpected event, as well as an unseen challenge: each character has a living, breathing invisible disability that shadows them, influencing their decisions, reactions and overall well-being.

This project aims to create awareness of the challenges that people with invisible disabilities face, and the play specifically examines autism, anxiety, depression and learning disabilities. While writing the script, participants gathered information from numerous resources.

During the early stages of character development, the students’ personal experiences were discussed to make the story as realistic as possible, as almost all of the young actors have experience with the disabilities mentioned.

Director and Theatre in Education Animateur Danielle Chandler hopes that Invisibles will change perceptions about invisible disabilities and how they affect those that live with them. “In the early stages of researching and writing Invisibles, I discovered from conversations with the students that many of them face extraordinary challenges in their day-to-day lives.

Youth may experience barriers to getting the support that they need, such as not being knowledgeable about issues like mental health, fear that they may be stigmatized for acknowledging their invisible disability, or not knowing how to seek help in our community. Our objective with Invisibles is to shed light on what it’s like to have an invisible disability, because it can be difficult to fully grasp something that you can’t see.”

Kaitlyn Butschler, who plays Drew, adds “I hope that audiences will learn you’re not alone and that other people are going through the same thing. And other audiences might be able to recognize the signs so they can help.”

Magnus Theatre’s Artistic Director, Thom Currie, points out that the Collective Creation Project is valuable to our community for a number of reasons. “Theatre in Education has been shown, through countless studies, to be an important building block in developing a socially aware and academically confident adult.

Magnus’ Collective Creation Project is a wonderful opportunity for Thunder Bay youth to express themselves and their concerns, and perform in a meaningful piece of theatre of their own creation. The fact that the students chose a topic like Invisible Disabilities clearly demonstrates the social awareness that our local youth possesses and their commitment to the project is inspiring. I’m looking forward to the show.”

Invisibles is created and produced with the generous support of the Thunder Bay Community Foundation and the Ontario Arts Council’s Arts Education grant. The show runs from Tuesday, May 16 to Thursday, May 18 and tickets are available at the Magnus Theatre Box Office and online at at a cost of $8 each.

— Submitted by Anne Antenucci, Magnus Theatre

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