18 Years of Access Theatre 

Storms and Illuminations, published by Emily Publications, chronicles the 18-year span of the life of Access Theatre. Author Cynthia Wisehart interviewed over 100 people involved with the productions and administration of this pioneering, accessible theatre company I founded in 1979.


I don't think the book is really about the past. And its not really about disability.  I think its about theater, and the way striving to create something brings people to a common ground, and to personal revelations about themselves and others.  What struck me most about Access Theatre was the sheer power of the human voice in all it's various expressions, and the power of good it does for people to be heard and to listen in new ways.  Many people in the audience found that lifelong questions were addressed by actors with whom they thought they had nothing in common.  Many people on the stage were proud to be speaking the truth as they knew it. That is the nature of theatre, or it can be. Behind the wonderful stage pictures was a process as rich and imperfect as any human endeavor, as any family.

                                                                                       - From the Preface by Cynthia Wisehart



Rod has taken us all on a momentous ride really, as the company grew from a small community theatre to reach international audiences and millions of people through television.  The company's original productions powerfully addressed a host of social issues, they enlightened and entertained, they built community. Above all, the key to Access Theatre's success was that it was great theatre. 


For me, what marks the productions is the feeling of watching something that has such truth to it that all else is forgotten and for a moment in time there is a bond between audience and performers.  It can open people's minds to a broader acceptance of people with disabilities and the fact that artists with disabilities are legitimate artists. 


But I think it also gives people an experience of humanity, their own and the actors'.  It tears down boundaries.  This gives the Access Theatre an immortality, because what happened on their stage on a single night reached beyond the performance, beyond the individuals, and out into the world.

                                                                                    -  From the Foreword by Michael Douglas

The entire book may be accessed in digital format at the Access Theatre Archives: