Regan Linton Co-Director of the film, imperfect, took time out of her day to come and visit The Phoenix School while she is in town for the Salem Film Fest. imperfect is a story of artists who live and perform with the uniqueness of disability, having been denied their place in the spotlight.
She opened her talk with a conversation, asking our students their name, their ages, and their favorite story. Our students excitedly shared, and wow what a variety of stories we learned.
From Winnie the Poo to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, to one of our 7-year-olds sharing his love for Stephen Hawking, which of course impressed Regan.
Regan then shared her own story…growing up without a wheelchair, she was a big athlete, playing soccer, swimming and skiing. But she was most passionate about acting.
She described her love for collaboration in theatre, especially the ability to interact with the audience. She was animated as she described how theatre tells a story, but through song, words and actions. Her slogan was…if you can’t speak it, sing it and if you can’t sing it, dance it.
When she was just 20 years old, she was in a car accident that left her with a T4 complete spinal cord injury. We received a wonderful explanation about her injury in a way that felt safe and open for the students.
She explained to our students that her legs feel similar to what we might experience as a numb arm or leg because of the way we were sleeping on it. She described how the wheelchair was her liberation to freedom and to the outside world. But that many people around the world don’t have access to the devices they need to give them the opportunity to have that same freedom.
She talked about how in the past, because of how our society was set up, people with disabilities were considered worthless as they couldn’t go to war, couldn’t work at the factory, couldn’t get around with ease. She spoke about how society has changed and now people are able to showcase their incredible ABILITIES, achieving results beyond expectations, like the Paralympics and the actors in imperfect, just to name a few.
Our students kept her here for over an hour because they were all so excited to share their own stories about experiences they had with accidents, scares, and family members. The conversation sparked so many questions and lead down so many interesting pathways for the kids. We even did some breathwork taught by Regan!
To finish out her visit she concluded with a fun and interactive storytelling prompt, where each student added a sentence to the last. She made sure they were keeping the main characters and introducing new characters too.
We feel so blessed to have captured some of Regan’s time today and look forward to seeing what she continues to produce in the future.
Follow the intimate stories of diverse actors with disabilities as they defy stereotypes and claim their place in the spotlight, demonstrating the creative power that comes from upending perfection.