Empowerment. Engagement. Authenticity.

VocalEye Virtual Presentations - Awake

Alex Baulmer as photographed in the Toronto Star

I've never watched – or more accurately listened to – a described film while painting rocks and tending to my potted plants on my patio.

A glass half-empty perspective would claim that technology has shortened my attention span or that I wasn't that interested in the film. A glass half-full attitude – my favourite kind – would cheer technology for making such freedom possible.

That same voice would say, 'If you can, why not do?'

So it was on June 28, 2020, that I found myself doing just that on a sunny, summery Sunday. VocalEye Descriptive Arts Society was hosting another one of their virtual Sunday matinees. It was a short film called Awake, starring Ontario-born playwright and actor Alex Bulmer.

On our two-seater swing, my boyfriend Shawn manned the technology.

The film presented an interaction between two women who are blind. One woman, Anna, was the definition of crotchety and disgruntled while the other, Doreen, took sociable to the max. In the spotlight were the stereotypes of the isolated disabled person and the well-meaning savior.

During the post-film chat, Alex Bulmer admitted that the characters were almost cartoon-like exaggerations of those stereotypes.

I agree.

The blind woman who waved an Awake magazine in my face when I was just a couple blocks away from home after a doctor's appointment where I'd found out I needed cervical spine surgery was not invited to share her thoughts at my place over a cup of tea.

Now, I'll confess to being just as sociable and chatty as the JW character Doreen in the film Awake. Before Covid 19 made such behavior taboo, I would be the person striking up conversations with strangers on transit. I would be the one trying to convince introverts to expand their horizons.

This film had me taking a hard look at my presumptiveness.

Conversation is all fine and good. But who am I to try to change people?

Neither Anna nor Doreen succeeded totally in converting, as it were, the other. And they seemed fine with that.

Maybe the interaction changed both women forever. Maybe it didn't.

Maybe the glass doesn't always have to be either half-empty or half-full.

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