My own personal biography is filled with mixed feelings and emotions towards doctors and the medical community. For most of my life, I was led to believe that my disability was a direct result of medical malfeasance. When I first saw "The Penalty" I couldn't help but draw parallels between what I perceived to be the story of my own "botched birth" and that of Blizzard, the criminal kingpin who vows revenge against the doctor who wrongfully amputates his legs following a childhood accident.
It wasn't hard to see that there was something fascinating about Chaney himself. I knew very little
about him before seeing the PBS special and subsequent research on my own. First and foremost,
Lon Chaney contradicted the Hollywood ideal of beauty, glamor and romance. Both his parents were
deaf and it was through non verbal communication with them with which he mastered the art of
pantomime. In addition, Chaney's second wife, Hazel's previous husband was a double amputee.
Beyond these real life coincidences however (or maybe because of them), throughout his career
Chaney played myriad disabled characters imbuing each and every one of them with great strength
Check out Lon Chaney as the nefarious, Blizzard
A core element of The Apothetae's mission is to expand the current existing narratives that depict
people with disabilities. Too often in today's popular culture, we are painted as men and women who
overcome adversity or act as symbols of pity and or inspiration. This wasn't always the case. And
while depictions of characters with disabilities throughout history may not have always been positive,
I do not want to shy away from these stories. Hollywood producers in the early twentieth century
certainly did not and neither did Lon Chaney. I feel great power rests in the retelling and
exploration of these stories and embodiment of these characters.
Like Lon Chaney, I have always felt a great affinity for the monsters and the villains. As he
(Chaney), eloquently stated in response to a fan letter inquiring why he played such dark, detestable
characters, "...No matter how evil the characters are there's some redeeming spot of good in them."
Blizzard has overcome a great deal of adversity in his world to become a great power on the Lower
East Side. He is challenging because he is dark, complex and let's face it-EVIL. Underneath the
universe of blood, thunder and tears however, beats a human heart.
We hope you'll be able to help us bring this work to audiences this June. To make a tax deductible
donation please visit "The Penalty's" Indiegogo Campaign.
Thanks to all of you who have donated and lent your support already and we hope to see you this
Summer at Dixon Place!