Lindsay Green of Marymount Manhattan College discusses “Addy & Uno”, the new Family Musical about living with disability, bullying and the power of strong friendships.
By Anna Wolfe
Addy & Uno is a new off-broadway family musical that tackles the issue of bullying, which affects 60% of students with disabilities each day. The musical’s five main characters are represented by puppets and use their special abilities, unique talents, imagination, kindness and friendship, to put an end to bullying at their school.The group is made up of adventurous Addy, who has ADHD; thoughtful Uno, who has autism; Melody the musician, who’s visually impaired; insightful Seemore, who is hearing impaired; and RJ, who has paraplegia and loves building rockets. The production is an adaptation of The Realabilities Educational Comic Book Curriculum, a 10 comic-book series created by Dr. Nava Silton with the help of her students from Marymount Manhattan College. Over the past six years, Dr. Silton and her researchers found that elementary school students who participated in the Realabilities comic book interventions demonstrated “improved knowledge, behavioral intentions, and cognitive attitudes” towards peers with disabilities. Today, the live performances of Addy & Uno have shown near-identical results, as well as inspiring “a deeper understanding of bullying and its repercussions” in audience members, with 90% of children reporting they wanted to see the show again. Recent studies indicate that students with disabilities are 2-3 times more likely to be bullied than their peers without disabilities, so programming that cultivates empathy is especially important for school-age children.
Lindsay Green is one of the creatives behind Addy & Uno, which began performances in New York on September 2nd. ONEder caught up with Lindsay to discuss Addy & Uno and how she helps bring this heroic story to life on stage.
Can you tell me a little more about what drew you to the production? What is your role on the creative team?
I work as the Coordinator for Disability Services at Marymount Manhattan College. Dr. Nava Silton is a professor of Psychology at MMC; She created this project, Realabilities, think “real abilities.” It started as 10 different comic books, then she began to experiment with the idea of making it into a TV show. Then we realized it could be done with puppets. We did two workshops of the production in the last year, in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017. Bonnie Gleicher, who wrote the score, approached me because she knew I was passionate about this, and she asked if I would be their sound and lighting designer. After that we got (Emmy nominee) Director Donna Drake and the rest of the crew. We had one week of rehearsal, which was quite a whirlwind, and opened on September 2nd.
As the Sound and Lighting Designer, you’re helping to create a multidimensional experience for the audience. Addy & Uno contains elements of puppetry, soundtrack, and live performance; what other elements bring the musical to life? Also, how are people with different kinds of special needs accommodated and engaged?
As the Sound and Lighting Designer, I was focused on designing a show for people with disabilities: autism, Asperger’s, sensory issues and more. I told the director that we needed to have a trigger list. People with disabilities and their families are supported and welcomed before the show each day. We also tell everyone to “feel free to step out to collect yourself if needed at any point in the show, and then come back and enjoy the show without feeling like you are being rude or disruptive.” Parents seem to really appreciate that when their child needs that space.
Fantastic! Is there anything that was not explicitly written in the script, but that you and the other cast and creatives bring on stage with you at each performance? Would you say that the show and characters have evolved since you began rehearsal?
Each of the characters (puppets) have evolved since our workshops. I saw Brent, the actor who portrays RJ, really take on the character of RJ. RJ is in a wheelchair and he loves rockets. He has a song about if he could fly a rocket to the moon, and the lights and music really brought it to a new level. As an audience member you can see how the characters see themselves. In this song we added celestial beings on stage, Saturn and so on, to make it seem like they were in space. The audience sees RJ in space and he’s still in his wheelchair, but it doesn’t inhibit him from going to space in his imagination. You realize his imagination has no physical limitations and it’s quite beautiful.
Ultimately, I’m doing this to combine my passions and would like to help others express themselves through technical theater; it’s a great way to express yourself, especially when you can’t verbalize exactly how you feel.
For tickets and to learn more, visit:
Addy & Uno: https://www.addyanduno.com/