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Photo by Roundabout Theatre Company.

Reverb Festival Reflections

"Artists with disabilities are more connected than we realize, whether they be mental, physical, invisible, or dynamic."

Makena Metz 

Reverb Theatre Arts Festival:

Reverb Festival Reflections

This week we closed out the Reverb Festival. Our first ever multi-disciplinary, multi-genre theatre arts festival for disabled artists. From a pool of more than 80 submissions from across the country we selected a group of 24 artists who were paired with collaborators from across the performing arts industry. The works were developed, recorded, and presented in the final festival video which premiered on April 8th. A few of our artists reflect on their experience and tell us about their upcoming projects below. 

Posts have been edited for length and/or clarity. 

Shane Dittmar

How did it feel to see your work in the context of the larger festival?

It was incredibly powerful for a number of reasons. Of course, it was fantastic to see something I created brought to life with such love and support from the amazingly talented Roundabout community. But more than that, it was so powerful to have a space for my work within this celebration of people who are different. Not only our voices as artists with disabilities but even our stories aren't often a part of the theatre world. Many recent events over the past few years within the theatre community have just begun to illustrate the gaps in representation, and people with disabilities, both as artists and as characters, fall almost entirely into one of those gaps. This festival featured a number of wonderful pieces about people with disabilities, only some of which were specifically about the disability. In addition to that, Roundabout's commitment to making the festival process accessible shows that there is room to include people like me and my fellow artists in the professional theatre. I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing that gap begin to close as organizations, inspired by Reverb, learn how to - and that they can - include diversely able artists in their projects and people in their stories.

What was the value of working with your Collaborating Artist?

My collaborating artist, Adam Gwon, is an incredibly talented and generous creator of theatre. He served as an inspiration for the kind of art that I could make; I told him during our process that his work on shows like Ordinary Days was in my mind as I wrote "Like Usual." In addition to this, Adam kindly shared his vast experience and network to help plan and execute the remote recording process for both the video and audio, and was able to help quickly find top-notch musicians for the orchestrations he helped me to craft. Having Adam work with me on the piece is a huge part of why it was the success I feel that it was, and Adam's knowledge and guidance helped me to create a much more professional and high quality final product than I might have on my own.

What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects or collaborations you want to share with us?

I am excited to keep writing musicals, including a podcast musical I'm co-creating with fellow Reverb participating artist Sarah Kaufman, who I met through Reverb and with whom I’ve already written and released a song called “Giving In” that you can find on your streaming service of choice.

Anita Hollander

As theatre artists, how was the process of producing your work on a digital stage?

Due to the pandemic, in addition to being writer/composer, I also shot it and performed both roles, thereby becoming my own producer, floor director, stage/production manager, lighting/set/sound designer, costume/makeup/hair artist, and camera person. Thank God I had our wonderful editor from Roundabout, Nick Moore, and invaluable collaborator, Dan Graham, to direct from afar (in the middle of the night in Australia!). And miraculously, it WORKED in a digital medium. This was a total GIFT!

How might you develop your work from the Festival in the future?

It is the hope of Dan Graham and I to expand this 5 minute piece into a full-length play, since there are no plays, TV shows or films, to our knowledge, that have tackled this story, which is presently more relevant than ever.

What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects or collaborations you want to share with us?

I am writing a new song for Heidi Latsky Dance to represent the company's On Display Global initiative, bringing together people & artists with disabilities all over the globe, virtually, on December 3, 2021 for International Day of the Disabled.

Makena Metz 

What was your favorite moment from the Festival?

When I saw my piece about chronic illness in concert with pieces about a wide variety of disabilities and realized that I am not alone. Artists with disabilities are more connected than we realize, whether they be mental, physical, invisible, or dynamic. It was lovely being in a community of artists who are going through similar things - and I felt seen, heard, and supported because of it.

What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects or collaborations you want to share with us?

I'm currently wrapping up a year in the Institute for American Musical Theatre Creator's Program! Our group of composers, librettists, and lyricists are having our 1 act shows performed digitally next weekend and they are going to be released on social media platforms like 10glo - so keep a lookout for that!

Michael Shutt

What was the value of working with your Collaborating Artist?

Working with Diana Wyenn, my Collaborating Artist was invaluable.  Not only did she fully invest her time and talents as a dramaturg and a director on this piece, she also assembled a team of artists that were familiar with me as a performer and had educated themselves on my visual and neurological disabilities.  They knew my strengths and understood exactly what kind of support I needed in order for me to do my best work.

Diana has one rule in the rehearsal room (or rehearsal Zoom, as the case may be): “Protect yourself and others.”  By arming themselves with information about my disabilities, they were each able to do exactly that which ultimately empowered me to give my best possible performance. 

On our “shoot day” I was quarantined alone in my apartment in West Hollywood, Diana was in Oregon, John (our sound designer) was in Long Beach, and Jason (our video designer) was in LA.  We gathered on-line.  We filmed using my laptop which I set up on top of a box on top of a chair on top of a table with lights clipped to my TV and a Yeti microphone hidden in plain sight.  The team could see me, so they helped me adjust my lighting, talked me through exactly how many steps in each direction I could take and still be in frame and then communicated to me through headsets that were plugged in by the side of the laptop, with the volume turned up to 10. 

They each took the time to make sure I was confident, free, and most importantly, safe enough to give my best performance.  I’m incredibly grateful for this team.  Diana’s email signature is  “Give/Take Care” and that’s exactly what  she did for me. 

What’s Next For You? (Any upcoming collaborations or projects you’d like to share)

Diana Wyenn (my collaborating artist), John Zalewski (my sound designer) and I had collaborated on A Lesson In Swimming my solo show about my experience having and surviving three strokes that left me partially paralyzed, partially blind, and partial to chocolate pudding.  The play takes the audience deep inside my brain as it breaks so they can experience for themselves exactly how deep the cracks really go, and then invites them to join me as I set out on a quest to put the pieces of my broken brain back together.

The script was a semi-finalist for The Eugene O’Neill Center’s 2020 National Playwrights conference.  We had workshopped the show and were just getting ready to open the World Premier last May in conjunction with National Stroke Awareness Month when the pandemic hit.  While we waited to get back into theaters for the eventual premier, I was awarded a grant from the National Arts and Disability Center to adapt the play into a 5-part immersive radio play/podcast that’s now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Simplecast, and can be found at and

Having more stories than I could contain in one show, I am planning on publishing a collection of essays/short stories about my stroke experience (including my REVERB piece Who Is It?)  

Jackson Tucker-Meyer 

Think back to the beginning of the process. What was the most memorable moment?

Definitely my first meeting with Chase. We were barely acquainted with one another’s work (he’d only had the opportunity to read my play a couple of days beforehand, and I’d only seen his choreography on a blurry YouTube bootleg of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark – still one of my favorite musicals), and then I’m (virtually) face-to-face with a man in a bright yellow room with neon orange glasses. It was clearly a perfect match, and we clicked instantaneously.

Chase was a great collaborator throughout the process, and one of his best ideas stemmed from that original meeting: I was idly wondering whether I should rewrite the play to take place over a Zoom call, and Chase was like, “maybe let’s just…stage it the way you wrote it.” And I was like, “Brilliant!” He made the very perceptive point that Zoom is nowadays just another invisible fourth wall, and it would be much more fun to figure out how to virtually stage physical closeness – and we did! Everything I wrote ended up onscreen, with one exception – we were unable to put together a pile of bananas as big as a person. Next time off-off-Broadway. 

What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects or collaborations you want to share with us?

I recently finished a full-length play called The Perfection of the Donut: A Dramatical-Philosophical Dialogue on Beauty and Aesthetics. It’s about three neo-Victorian dandies who live in the backroom of a donut shop, and the drama that ensues when they are ordered to clean their room. I’ve also just finished an original TV pilot screenplay called Kool Doom Kidz, about six kids (Goober, Biff, Yung Krust, Kürst, Effluvia, and Venomonika) who discover a subculture of mutants living on the outskirts of their suburban hometown. Lastly, I made a website for my work! Check it out here: