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The Apothetae & Lark Initiative present "Telethon!"

Equity in the Arts
Lloyd Suh and Gregg Mozgala
Lloyd Suh, Director of Artistic Programs at The Lark (Left) and Gregg Mozgala, Founder & Artistic Director of The Apothetae (Right) prepare to host “Telethon!” 2016.

The Apothetae, a theater company dedicated to the production of full-length plays that explore and illuminate the "Disabled Experience," and The Lark are thrilled to announce their partnership in launching The Apothetae and Lark Initiative. The Initiative, currently in the development stages, includes plans for annual convenings of Disabled artists with the theater field at large, a workshop for Disabled writers, and The Apothetae and Lark Playwriting Fellowship, which will provide a Disabled writer with a two-year cycle of support for the generation and development of a new work to essay and challenge popular perceptions of the "Disabled Experience." In addition to the artistic and career support of The Apothetae and The Lark during the writer’s residency, plans for the award include $40,000 in financial support, a $10,000 opportunity and resource fund, and a $10,000 production enhancement fund.  To raise awareness and support for this program, The Apothetae and The Lark will produce “Telethon!” 2016, a virtual, theatrical event consisting of regular video posts to The Lark’s blog during the month of September.
 
Through these efforts, The Apothetae and The Lark, with the aid of Steering Committee members Claudia Alick (Community Producer, Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Shirley Fishman (Resident Dramaturg at La Jolla Playhouse), Jack Reuler (Artistic Director at Mixed Blood Theatre), and Howard Sherman (Senior Strategy Director and Interim Director at Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts), will provide an unprecedented platform of support for Disabled artists. The needs for a higher and more intentional level of advocacy were articulated during conversations that occurred during the first national convening of Disabled artists and the larger theater community, held by The Apothetae and The Lark in May of 2015, and out of which this Initiative was borne. While topics of equity, access, and inclusion in the theater have recently gained increasing prevalence, Disability is only just beginning to enter the conversation. By affording Disabled writers the space and resources required to take the necessary risks, the Fellowship aims to aid in the generation of work with the power to revolutionize the cultural dialogue surrounding Disability.
 
“We are an incredibly rich and diverse community with many stories to tell.” says Gregg Mozgala, Founding Artistic Director of The Apothetae. “The Disabled community needs space to nurture its talent and experiment.”
 
To raise awareness and support for The Apothetae and Lark Initiative, The Lark and The Apothetae will produce “Telethon!” This virtual, theatrical event will take place throughout the month of September, and will consist of regular posts on The Lark’s blog. Each week, The Apothetae and The Lark will publish new videos created by members of the community, inspired by The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon. This annual broadcast, held from 1966 until 2010, was hosted by actor/comedian Jerry Lewis to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). The event has faced criticism not only for using Disabled people as a fundraising tool, but also for focusing the public's attention on medical cures to "normalize" Disabled people instead of addressing issues like providing accessible buildings, transportation, and employment opportunities. The MDA Telethon is an important part of Disability History in the 20th and early 21st Century United States. The Apothetae and The Lark see this as an opportunity for Disabled artists to begin to reclaim agency and ownership around their stories, images, and bodies. Confirmed participants so far include Ryan Haddad, David Harrell, Anita Holander, Gregg Mozgala, Evan Ruggerio, Pamela Sabaugh, and Jessica Yates.
 
“The Lark and The Apothetae are ready to launch this initiative as soon as we have funds in place,” says Lloyd Suh, Director of Artistic Programs at The Lark. “We’re hoping that by announcing our plans in this way, it will help us to identify key partners who are interested in contributing to this important work."
 
As both organizations continue to raise the profile and support for this program, The Apothetae and The Lark encourage anyone interested in getting involved or staying updated to sign up for The Apothetae and Lark Initiative’s dedicated email list.
 
To watch the “Telethon!” videos, visit www.larktheatre.org/blog regularly during September to check for new videos, post your thoughts in the comments section, and join the conversation.
 
Finally, for those interested in getting involved with “Telethon!” and The Apothetae and Lark Initiative, there is also the option to donate by visiting www.larktheatre.org and entering “The Apothetae” in the “Notes Regarding Gift” section of The Lark’s donation form.

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