The great thing about theatre is that there is always a creative and compelling show just around the corner. BLURRED AROUND THE CORNERS, written and performed by Steven Oberman offers an intimate play about a Doctor who championed those who needed it. Steven talks about creating and performing this play, which is playing through August 6-8th at Vista’s Broadway Theatre.
Steven Oberman is an actor and playwright who has written plays that range from romantic comedies, to adventure, and in BLURRED AROUND THE CORNERS, he explores a biography play of Dr. John Langdon Down, in 1887 England.
Dr. Down is the namesake for Down’s Syndrome, and the play follows him as he chronicles his works in his resident hospital which caters to the mentally disabled. A story of personal perseverance, and the fight for the betterment of his patients. So, why did this story
The creation of this play was the result of two factors: My wanting to write a solo piece as a way to stretch myself as a writer, and the suggestion by a close friend and researcher in Down’s Syndrome that Dr. Down would be a great subject for a play.
My friend and his colleagues felt that Dr. Down’s contributions to present day rehabilitation and education of the disabled had not been fully recognized. In doing research for the play, I was struck by the care he showed his patients, and his belief that they could, and should be, productive members of the community, regardless of their disability.
This was very forward thinking for the time and place in which he lived, England of the mid-nineteenth century.
Once inspired Oberman decided to write the play, and a solo piece felt like an effective and intimate way to approach the story.
I enjoy the intimate aspect of a one-person play, where the main character, in this case Dr. Down, speaks directly to the audience as a confidant. In this way, he is able to share with the audience his innermost fears and insecurities; something that would not easily occur in a multi-character play.
While Oberman is an actor he never thought to perform it himself until it felt like the play really spoke and identified to him, and it allowed him to take the piece on the road as a performer as well.
I wrote “Blurred at the Edges’ not thinking I would perform the role of Dr. Down. But as I began to really identify with him as a person, it became clear to me that I should take it on. Then I thought, as a practical matter, if I were ever able to take the play “on the road”, it makes more sense to do the play myself, than to work around someone else’s availability.
Steven admits that as the writer he does continue to edit and work on the play, in the case of this upcoming performance he edited it down to an hour from its original full length. He also looks for future opportunities to rewrite the play to allow for additional performers.
I would love the opportunity to rewrite the play to include roles for actors with disabilities, so that they can portray the patients that Dr. Down actually cared for. Bringing to life the real concerns and challenges of those affected by disability would bring a wonderful element to the play.
At the end of the play, Oberman hopes audiences walk away with a better understanding, empathy and respect for all humans, no matter their differences.
The key is to find the ways we are similar and work from that common ground as a foundation for tolerance. I’d also like people to think about how attitudes and language are a product of their time, not to be denounced by us in the 21st century, but to help us understand how the culture of that different time period could foster these attitudes, so that we can appreciate how the human race has progressed.
BLURRED AROUND THE CORNERS is playing at Vista’s Broadway Theatre August 6th- 8th. For ticket information go to https://www.broadwayvista.biz/adult-shows.html and you can follow Steven and the play at https://www.facebook.com/dr.downplay
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