Actors Portraying Disability

“We haven’t been hearing a lot of disabled folks’ stories, and those are some of the most important, most interesting stories, in the world.” – Ben Raanan, Artistic Director of Phamaly Theatre, a local Denver theatre for artists with disabilities, joins THINK+change for this month’s podcast.

The stories we consume shape so much of our perception and narrative of the world around us, which makes representation so important. Ben Raanan knows this better than most, since he has been fostering stories of disability to the stage for years. For Ben, it’s about creating the best art possible, redefining artistic conventions, and in this episode, he shares the how and why of disability storytelling!

Discussed in this episode

  • The effects of true representation;
  • Holding disability art to a high standard;
  • Reasons behind lack of representation;
  • Creating a culture of accessibility;
  • Advice for young actors; and
  • Sustaining yourself through the slowness of societal change.

Learn more by watching a vodcast (video) or listening to podcast (audio) episode 83.

Ben Raanan: Artistic Director of Phamaly Theatre Company


  • :50 – Ben’s journey to disability theatre
  • 7:00 – A high standard or art and creating the best stories
  • 10:10 – Tackling the “preciousness” of disability
  • 12:10 – The effect of true representation
  • 15:00 – Challenging stereotypes 
  • 17:20 – Reasons for lack of representation and creating a culture of accessibility
  • 20:50 – Dealing with the slowness of change
  • 21:55 – Advice for beginner actors with disabilities