The Inspiration Behind ‘Whose Life Is It Anyway?’: An Interview with James Sanders

The Cultch is happy to host Whose Life Is It Anyway? by Brian Clark, the latest production by Realwheels Theatre, now playing until March 22! The show has  already gotten great reviews! Fun Fun Vancouver said the play “will entertain you, but more importantly, challenge you”.  This is part two of our interview with  James Sanders, Founding Artistic Director of Realwheels Theatre, about the inspiration behind Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Your current production Whose Life Is It Anyway? is about a sculptor who, paralyzed from the neck down after a car accident, fights for the right to die. I understand that you have a personal connection to this play. Can you tell me more about why you wanted to produce it?

It was one of the pieces of film that I researched to see what stories were being told about disability. It greatly inspired me to see a high lesion quadriplegic fighting for the right to die. I cheered on his victory even though it meant his death because, to me, it was a victory about personal rights and, essentially, the right to live seemed extremely powerful at the time. At that point I was 21 years old and not age-appropriate to do the story. Flash forward to 2010 and I revisited the notion and decided that it was the right time the stage this production. Little did I know the incredible relevance that it would have this day in the community of people who are fighting for these rights on a daily basis.

Bob Frazer is playing the sculptor who is paralyzed in the play. This is also his third show with Realwheels Theatre. Could you tell me more about his connection with Realwheels Theatre?

Bob and I have been dear friends for almost 25 years. We have intimate knowledge of each other and it was a conversation on my balcony about the pursuit of excellence in theatre that would inspire us to create Skydive. Bob has been involved in every one of our professional productions and, I hope, will continue to be engaged with Realwheels Theatre for years to come in some capacity or another. I have been in many positions where I have had to trust Bob implicitly with my life. This, again, is one of those times. I trust Bob to accurately represent disability with the genuine craft of acting that will hopefully become another one of Bob’s great performances in his overall body of work.

What are you hoping audiences will take away with them after seeing Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Perhaps a moment to consider their own relationship with death, the difficult challenges facing its inevitability and the opportunity, if it presents itself, to have a choice in the last matter of time. It is hopefully going to be a conversation starter and an opportunity for people to consider their present beliefs and ways to challenge them. On a side note, I hope that the presence of the character with a disability will serve, in some capacity, to bring the audience closer to the disability experience when they encounter disability in their day-to-day lives.

Whose Life Is It Anyway? runs at The Cultch until March 22, 2014 at 8 pm in the Historic Theatre. Tickets are from $18 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 604. 251. 1363 or online.

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