Blyth is a storyteller who loves the challenge of creating his stories for performance. Super Voices will be the third Realwheels community project in which Blyth has participated.
Liesl: How long have you been with Realwheels?
Blyth: This will be my third time. The first two times were with James Sanders and this time it is with Jeffrey.
Liesl: What is the difference between the two directors?
Blyth: They are very similar. Jeffrey has a good eye for reading people and helping them improve how they project themselves. Jeffrey is teaching us breathing and how to stay focused on our performance. James has has a lot of charisma and is good at psyching up the group. Both are very talented.
Liesl: What is your performance?
Blyth: My super power is surviving manic depression. I connect with it on a spiritual level, and then talk about my skills and interests and attitudes. Then, I speak about the importance of wheeling on a daily basis, and weightlifting.
Liesl: Is there an element that brings the group performance together?
Blyth: There is a sequence of moves that is coordinated. It’s a more theatrical performance. Last year, there was a more musical element tying it together, between each speech.
Blyth: (As smile bursts out) I’m looking forward to trying to give it a shot!
Liesl: Do you get nervous?
Blyth: Aaaah, yes. I am working on it… taking the challenge, to have it come off in a successful way. I’ve been involved in karaoke for a long time. I used to run the program [at GF Strong]. “I Will Survive” is a song that got me out of my depression. Getting into that song turns me around and always makes me feel better.
Liesl: How did you find out about Realwheels?
Blyth: The karaoke lady, she’s the Rec Coordinator. She made me aware of it.
Liesl: Were you nervous that first time?
Blyth: I was feeling pretty good. My mood was pretty positive. Now I am a little depressed. But it’s not as bad as it used to be. It’s not as severe as it was in the past. I had a fall in 2002 that changed my brain chemistry and lessened my manic depression. My mood swings aren’t as bad and I can get out of them easier.
Liesl: Do you go to the theatre or concerts?
Blyth: I went to [Realwheels’ production of] Re-calculating. I wanted to see Dave Symington and he was good. He pulled that off very well.
Liesl: What keeps you coming back?
Blyth: The challenge to be in a group, to focus on interacting in the group’s activity, and trying to work on a speech so that I can memorize it and say it to the public, I guess.
Liesl: What have you learned about storytelling?
Blyth: Breathing and pausing. Including the audience.
Liesl: Is there something that stands out about Realwheels for you?
Blyth: There are a lot of people that are positive-minded and they really try their best to encourage us. That’s always there. If we ask a question, there’s always ample response from the leaders. [David] Roche gives his feedback and Jennifer [Fader] gives her feedback, and it all comes together as some good advice.
Liesl: Do you see your experience, as a person with disability, reflected in the cultural life of our city?
Blyth: Well, I’m always on my own, independent, so wherever I go I am wheeling on my own. That’s motivating for people who aren’t in a chair and they see me getting around, so they are inspired to be more active in their own way.
Liesl: What would you say to others who might be interested in participating in Realwheels?
Blyth: I would say it’s a good experience and I find it worthwhile and I would recommend it to anybody who is interested.
Liesl: So, your bio says that you worked in a small mining town?
Blyth: From 1984 to 1992, I worked doing odd jobs, painting houses, landscaped and shovelled snow. They got twenty feet of snow a year in Cassiar! I would shovel the roofs when they got three or four feet deep. I worked in recreation and at the general store as a clerk. I sharpened skates and ran the Zamboni. I like small town life.
Liesl: What’s your happy place?
Blyth: I go to a coffee shop and enjoy a hot coffee. Sometimes I have someone to have it with.
Liesl: Thank you so much. Have fun!
Interview by award-winning director, dramaturg, and playwright, Liesl Lafferty.