17th April 2021

Peter Royston, Stage Manager: “I Make Magic Happen”

Peter Royston

There are moments on stage that are magic. Moments like listening backstage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival during a performance of Oklahoma! in 2018 when a group of students stood with a rainbow flag after each act of love displayed on stage. I still get chills thinking about the impact of that production and was honored to be a part of it.

Oklahoma! was my first contract being “out” about my disability. I was born with cerebral palsy and have spent most of life passing as an able bodied person. I spent a decade in professional theater without mentioning it. I limp when I am tired. I have aphasia when I am tired. I need more time figuring out how to physically move in a space. None of these items are a problem until it becomes a problem.

Peter Royston

Aphasia means that I may invert a name, say an incorrect number, leave out words in an email. Most stage managers have said to me that this happens to them when they get tired. But it is not the same.

What I found is that disability is very complex. The issue of ability is brushed to the side, because folks think it is too complicated to accommodate. What I can do is speak from my personal experience. I have a gift. I know others see that I have a gift. When I am used effectively, I make magic happen.

Peter Royston

I hope that our union, our culture, and our country will shift soon. Disability cannot be seen as a private medical disease. We need to know what the field looks like. We need to be able find each other. Although no one will verify, I am quite sure that I will be the first stage manager on Broadway with cerebral palsy. And I believe that when we finally use all differently abled people wisely, the world will begin to heal itself.

Also by The Ensemblist:

West Side Story: Seeingn Canon Through Fresh Eyes

Broadway Kids on Netflix: John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Brunch

Published in collaboration with The Ensemblist

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ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

THE ENSEMBLIST IS AN ONLINE ADVOCATE FOR THE TALENTED ARTISTS WHO WORK IN BROADWAY ENSEMBLES. What started as an audio podcast for those curious about how Broadway really works turned into an avenue for young and aspiring professional artists to learn more about theatre from in the inside out. In addition to more than 150 podcast episodes, available on Apple podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn and Podbean, The Ensemblist’s blog features daily posts from artists about their work and lives. The Ensemblist is also active on both Instagram and Twitter, with more than 10,000 followers on each platform. Through our posts, podcasts and features, we are changing the conversation about what it means to be a successful theatre artist.

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