Lip reading and emotive interpreters: How the show goes on at Sick and Twisted Theatre

It’s not about empowerment. It’s about the art. 

That’s the philosophy behind Sick and Twisted Theatre, the Winnipeg disability theatre company. 

Just ask Debbie Patterson, the company’s artistic director, who was also a performer in their latest production, Antigone, which ended its run in late November.

“There seems to be an attitude that because the performers in this show are disabled, that they’re doing the work for their own benefit and not for the benefit of the audience,” said Patterson, who is in a wheelchair. 

A woman in a head-and-shoulders portrait looks slightly to the right.
Sick and Twisted Theatre artistic director Debbie Patterson was also a performer in the troupe’s latest production, Antigone, which had two hard of hearing actors who worked with an interpreter. (Beryl Constantini)

With two hard of hearing actors and one partly blind, plus Patterson and another actor with an invisible disability, the most recent production was an exercise in collaboration and adaptability. 

A performer stands on stage, looking at the audience, with arms and legs spread wide, to the left of a man singing into a microphone, with a man playing keyboards and singing into a microphone behind them.
Actor Joanna K. Hawkins, left, who is hard of hearing, performs with Jorge Requena Ramos, right, in Antigone, the latest production by Sick and Twisted Theatre. (Beryl Constantini)

That exercise and the tricks to pulling off Antigone with hard of hearing actors and their interpreter is the focus of a new short video, Sick and Twisted Theatre: A Look Behind the Stage. The video is the work of Beryl Constantini, Gino Villaceran and Mark Mariano, three filmmaking students from Sisler Create who worked in collaboration with CBC Manitoba’s Creator Network. 

Meet the filmmakers 

A young man smiles slightly and holds a drumstick vertically, with his elbow resting on his knee.
Beryl Costantini is a filmmaker who thrives working on collaborative projects. He has been video editing for three years. He also enjoys basketball, his drum kit, acting and films. (Carmen Acuna)
A young man with headphones around his neck sits on a stool, leaning a little to his right, with his right hand held open towards himself, slightly in front of the left side of his face.
Mark Mariano is a student filmmaker interested in camera, editing, sound editing, motion graphics, acting, voice acting and stunt performing. (Carmen Acuna)
A young man with glasses, in a buttoned-up shirt and vest, smiles at the camera.
Gino Villaceran graduated from Argyle high school in 2022 and specializes in editing and setting the pace of a story. He loves writing scripts, being behind the camera, acting and editing clips. (Carmen Acuna)

More about Project POV: Sisler Create 


CBC Manitoba’s Project POV: Sisler Create is a new storytelling collaboration that partners filmmaking students with CBC journalists to produce short videos.

During fall 2022, CBC journalists led storytelling and producing workshops over several weeks with filmmaking students at the Create program at Sisler High School. The program focuses on education and career pathways into the creative industries. Students can take courses in animation, film, game design, visual effects, graphic design and interactive digital media. 

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