An Artistic Vision Becomes Reality

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Realwheels is a Vancouver-based theatre company which entertains its audiences, while simultaneously educating them. In 2006, they premiered Skydive, an original 90-minute play which combined technology, machinery and choreography to make James Sanders, who is a quadriplegic, fly through the air.

"First and foremost, we set out to create a great piece of art with the goal of normalizing disability at its thematic core," said Sanders, who is also Realwheels' artistic director. "We knew we succeeded when a student on a school field trip summed up her experience of Skydive as 'theatre that matters'."

Realwheels received a grant from 2010 Legacies Now's Innovations program to research and develop the technology used in their production. Audience and critics alike commended Skydive for its ground-breaking approach to theatre. The show was nominated for five Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards and won three for its outstanding sound design, direction and aerial choreography. Skydive was also awarded the Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology's 2007 Award of Technical Merit in recognition of the complex technical elements of the show. Having successfully debuted Skydive for audiences in Vancouver and Victoria, Realwheels is planning to tour both Canada and abroad to promote disability and arts awareness.

"Producing and performing Skydive is giving me an opportunity to tell a very tragic and personal story in one of the most exciting and thrilling ways imaginable. The greatest and most immediate reward is feeling the audience move through a very intense cathartic experience themselves," said Sanders.

Innovations invests in arts, cultural and heritage organizations wishing to create new opportunities for community members to participate in arts and cultural activities. The program is supported by the Province of BC.