Image description: A young woman with short blonde curly hair and a left arm that ends at her elbow performs center stage in a sparkly fringe dress. Behind her a line of men in tuxedos, some with visible physical disabilities, pose and sing in front of a theatrical red curtain.
A professional company of actors with disabilities defies expectations by taking center stage in Chicago the musical.
imperfect is a story of artists…who live and perform with the uniqueness of disability, and therefore have historically been denied their place in the spotlight.
The documentary chronicles a unique company of actors who have all nature of disabilities – from spinal cord injury to Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy to autism – as they attempt an unprecedented version of Kander, Ebb, and Fosse’s beloved musical Chicago. Capturing the raw, honest stories of the actors inside the production process and outside the theatre in their everyday lives, imperfect reveals a rare behind-the-scenes look at talented artists who push to succeed as professional performers, no matter the obstacles.
imperfect crushes stale notions of disability and affirms the human condition…in all its uniqueness.
While the past few years have seen improvement in visibility of d/Disability in entertainment and media, there is still a long way to go to achieve authentic and comprehensive representation of artists with disabilities on stage and screen…without condescension, pity, or stigmatization.
In 2017, the Ruderman Family Foundation produced a white paper showing that while 20-25% of the U.S. population has a disability, fewer than 2% of all television characters had a disability, and 95% of top TV show characters with disabilities were played by non-disabled performers (Ruderman 2017).
In 2021, a report from Think Tank for Inclusion & Equity (TTIE), Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and Women in Film showed that 93.0% of writers said their most recent writers room had no Disabled or Deaf writers.
In theatre, there is no significant data available on representation of disability.
In addition to representation, the disability community still fights against shame-based narratives that prevent open and honest representation of disability in entertainment and media. Disabled characters that do show up are frequently one-dimensional, with disability overwhelming their stories at the exclusion of other experiences, traits, complexities, or life experiences. Especially in theatre, they are overwhelmingly played by non-disabled actors.
imperfect fights against these historical trends. The film puts strong, creative humans with disabilities front and center, telling their own stories, introducing the world to a theatre company where talented performers with disabilities do exist. Working under the direction of a disabled leader, they produce groundbreaking, award-winning productions.
As the entertainment industries begin to turn the tide around inclusion of disabled artists, imperfect actively presents many who are already doing the work – ready, willing, and able.
Actor, Director, True West Colorado Theatre Person of the Year (2017)
Image description: A white woman with short blonde hair, black rimmed glasses, and boots sits with leg crossed in a black frame manual wheelchair in front of a classical painting, speaking into a microphone.
10-time Heartland Emmy®-Award winning filmmaker
Image description: A black-and-white close-up of a white middle aged man staring thoughtfully at the camera, his left hand at his cheek.
Oscar®-winning producer and editor
Image description: A white man with a beard and dark rimmed classes stares at the camera with hands resting on the top of his head.
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