Updated: Jun 14, 2022
Courage and talent opened up a two-night showing of a production called ‘Speaking Our Truth, Storytelling Through a Disability Lens.’
Our very own Bryon Higgins, AWARE project manager, took part in creating the show as a playwriter and performer – two roles that were new to him.
To become part of the production, Bryon answered a call for writers that was announced by The Orphan Girl Theatre in partnership with the Montana Independent Living Project.
The producers wanted to pair up writers with people who live every day with a disability to tell their stories.
An advocate for people with disabilities, Bryon volunteered because he thought the production would be a worthy project.
“I was excited and knew I could do it,” he said.
While writing a script for the play was a new experience, he was ready to use his full creativity to craft his words.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “But I always like to present success stories in a different way.”
And if you know Bryon, you know that he likes to try new things. Whether he’s barbecuing on the grill, riding his mountain bike in the Butte 100 race or teaching his daughters to ski on the local hill – he’s always up for a challenge.
‘Speaking Our Truth’ highlighted eight real-life stories about people who live every day with a disability.
People with mobility, invisible and developmental disabilities got up on stage to talk in depth about their challenges and successes – humor included. Themes of awareness and inclusion filled the auditorium with each story.
Bryon was paired with Matt Patrick, a man who experienced a traumatic brain injury at age 15.
Like the other stories, Bryon aimed to strike a balance to tell about life before and after Matt’s motorcycle accident.
“It couldn’t be all sad because Matt is such a happy guy,” he said. “Working with the directors and cast members, we were able to come up with some great ideas that brought Matt’s personality into the skit.”
Bryon’s background includes serving people in a group home and writing success stories for the AWARE INK. His experience helped him approach Matt’s story from a place of compassion and respect.
Speaking with Matt after the play – all joking aside – he said that it was fun working with Bryon on his story.
A part read by Bryon himself, the script guided the audience to help them understand Matt’s life before his accident. He was a boy who liked to “go, go, go,” spending time with his friends and working on a local ranch the summer he was 15.
Matt, now a 40-year-old-man, joined Bryon on stage to read his lines that described his sadness and how he misses those 15-year-old-days and the ability of a person with an able body.
But in true AWARE INK success story fashion, Bryon concluded Matt’s feature with a happy ending with gratitude for his family and community activities – and a dance with a lovely woman.
The Garth Brooks song, ‘The Dance’ concluded Matt’s story and the production perfectly with these words, “I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance.”