Realwheels’ Play it Forward! mentorship program provides mentoring and real, theatre-based experiences to emerging artists with disabilities. For Super Voices (opening TONIGHT at the Roundhouse), award-winning projections designer Jamie Nesbitt has worked with videographer Caspar Ryan, in a mentorship relationship that has proved to be much more than educational. Learn more about Jamie and Caspar’s experiences building projections for Super Voices!
Lindsey: Tell me a bit about yourselves, and your careers as artists.
Caspar: I am a freelance producer, editor, director, and in general a videographer with Caspar Ryan Film. My artistic passion started when I was quite young. I used to write short stories and novels as a boy and I took that into my love for film. I inform my videos through the lens of storytelling, creating something that people can go on a journey with.
Jamie: I’ve been in theatre since I was 13. I was an actor for a long time, then in the middle of school at Studio 58 I switched over into projections design. I’ve been doing projections design for about 10 years, touring with theatre shows across Canada, the States and Europe.
Lindsey: How did you find out about Realwheels?
Caspar: Many years ago, I met James Sanders while I was shooting a documentary at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. When I finished my day of shooting, James came up to me and commented on the way I approached my subjects. He told me about Realwheels and that he wanted me to come and work with the company. I saw all those same positive things he had said about me, in him, so of course I went and checked it out and the rest is history.
Jamie: I worked with Realwheels on the 2010 production of Spine.
Lindsey: How is Realwheels filling the gap in experiences for and representation of people with disabilities?
Caspar: There are a lot of great artists and art being made within the disability community. I think the way that Realwheels functions is to give the community a platform to show the public that this talent and art exists. The gap they fill is in accessibility and the exposure which these artists have completely earned.
Lindsey: Do you see the experiences of persons with disabilities being reflected in the cultural life in our city?
Jamie: Yes, I do. It’s tough to have a sense of society’s perspective as a whole, I can only speak to my own experience. A lot of it has come from a family member who lives with a disability, which has opened me up to greater compassion. It’s also opened me up to seeing how incredible her life is and how she’s used her disability to tell her story. She is an artist and she does everything that you and I do. Working with Realwheels has made people in the disability community my peers, which has been a really enriching part of the whole experience.
Lindsey: What is the barrier to getting more authentic representation of disability out there?
Caspar: People with disabilities in the artistic community have different needs: there are scheduling needs, transportation needs… I don’t see the barriers being within individuals in the disability community, I see them being in the ways that this community can access and engage with the artistic process.
Jamie: Physical barriers and access to space is a large barrier. Integration in the workplace is really important and I think Realwheels has been really great for that in Vancouver. Starting with James, who is a really big figure in Vancouver’s theatre scene and has been for a while. He’s not seen as a disabled artist, he’s seen as an artist. I think the more people that have opportunities to integrate into normal everyday life, the more the perceived barriers between an able-bodied person and a person with a disability will be lifted.
Lindsey: Can you tell me a bit about your experience with Realwheels’ mentorship program?
Caspar: I’ve been set up with an extremely skilled and friendly individual named Jamie Nesbitt, who is a master with projections. I learn alot, we sit down together, we go through the process starting from the beginning and gradually build on it. We have a project that we’re working on for Super Voices, so we work with a certain amount of seriousness, as it will be for a public audience, but at the same time we have fun with it. Scheduling of our sessions is very flexible. And while I learn this new skill, I’m also building a friendship and a relationship with someone that I can continue to go to in the future for advice and support.
Jamie: I am a mentor for Caspar Ryan, but I see him as a peer as much as anything. Caspar is a really smart, kind person. He’s got a nice mix of being very kind and having a backbone; he walks that line really nicely. It’s great to work with someone like that. It breeds a really fruitful, collaborative process.
I’ve been teaching him a program that I use to project video, called Isadora, which is the technical side to the mentorship process. I’ve also been teaching him about collaboration in theatre and how that works. He’s been observing the dialogue between Jeffrey Renn (Director) and I and how the germination of ideas happens. Also, he’s probably picking up on my understanding of story and how to tell a story visually on stage.
Lindsey: How is this relationship benefiting you?
Jamie: There’s something really special about someone learning this new wonderful world for the first time and being a part of that. Caspar is really into theatre and design and there’s something special about being close to that.
When you’re mentoring someone in this program you’re close to the beginning of something and being close to the beginning of something is special. Being able to facilitate that process for someone is exciting.
Lindsey: Can you talk a bit about what your superpower is and how you came to realize it?
Caspar: My superpower is the ability to see the paths that people have taken through life by looking at them in the present.
Jamie: Although I don’t view it as special really, it’s more instinctual, I think I have the ability to talk to people and to connect to people from all levels of life.
Catch the design work and see Caspar perform in the production of Super Voices, tonight at the Roundhouse (7PM) and Saturday, June 13 at 4PM.
Tickets are pay-what-you-can at: www.supervoices.bpt.me