The Public Theater and The Bushwick Starr's world premiere co-production of Ryan J. Haddad's Dark Disabled Stories officially opens at The Public's Shiva Theater March 9 after beginning previews February 28. Directed by Jordan Fein, the new play will continue through March 26.
Haddad himself leads the cast, sharing the stage with Dickie Hearts (Tales of the City) and Alejandra Ospina (Great Race Through Time and Space!).
The autobiographical work, which serves as Haddad's Off-Broadway playwriting debut, is described as a "series of unforgiving vignettes" about the strangers Haddad encounters in a world not built for his disability.
"When Noel Allain asked what project I might like to bring to The Bushwick Starr, I had this collection of stories in mind, but never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned the production we are embarking to make," shared Haddad in an earlier statement. "Dark Disabled Stories is about disparate moments in my life, but when each of them happened, I was just hoping to have a regular day, until someone, somehow, either directly or indirectly reminded me that I was disabled, as if I wasn't already aware. They're ordinary, sometimes funny stories that turn dark because of the ways the world is taught to interact with disability, or the measures people take to avoid and ignore disability entirely. I'm excited for audiences to balk, laugh, and cringe with me about the ways strangers can be very strange."
Great lengths are being taken to ensure the production is as accessible as possible to audience members with disabilities. All performances feature open captioning, ASL, and audio descriptions integrated into the performance rather than relegated to special evenings. The Public has also expanded wheelchair and mobility access.
The production features scenic and costume design by dots, lighting design by Oona Curley, sound design by Kathy Ruvuna, and video design by Kameron Neal. Andrew Morrill serves as director of artistic sign language, with Alison Kopit as access dramaturg. The production stage manager is Melanie Lisby with Miriam Rochford serving as interpreter coordinator and stage manager. Peter Royston is stage manager.
Haddad previously developed his solo play Hi, Are You Single? as part of the Public's 2017 Under the Radar: INCOMING! series, and the work later played D.C.'s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. He recently appeared in New York Theatre Workshop's american (tele)visions and The Watering Hole at Signature Theatre. He's been seen on screen in The Politician and Retreat.