In this episode, host Toby Al-Trabulsi talks to John Beer and Kristen Gooch, who talk about ways they have developed resilience while pursuing their passions in life as wheelchair users and share their stories, “Is There a Doctor in The House?” and “I Was Meant to Shine.” John Beer takes us along his adventurous experience of trying to stay stocked up on staples during the covid era, and Kristen Gooch gives listeners insight into her experience as a disabled actress, following her dreams. The guests in this episode share their creativity, adaptability, and wisdom in their responses to the barriers that they encounter throughout their lives.
You can find this episode, and many more, by subscribing to the True Tales by Disability Advocates Podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Podcasts or your favorite platform.
Click here to listen with a full transcript.
Host: Toby Al-Trabulsi
Toby Al-Trabulsi is an actor, writer and creative access advocate for performers with disabilities based out of Austin, TX. Toby is a member of TILT performance group and ScriptWorks and is currently pursuing podcasting through the Art Spark podcasting workshop. True Tales by Disability Advocates. He is eager to see where this journey takes him.
Follow Toby on Twitter or Instagram
John Beer profiles the people with disabilities and volunteers who enforce accessible parking for all in the upcoming issue of New Mobility magazine. You can also find him on TheMighty.com – and he's wheelie excited about being on the team creating Art Spark Texas' new podcast, True Tales by Disability Advocates.
Keep up with John Beer on his blog:
Follow John on Instagram:
Kristen Gooch is an Actress, Poet, and Advocate from Austin, Tx with Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair for mobility. She hopes to broaden her horizons and branch out into film and television someday. She currently facilitates a peer support group called Adapting Sheros for women with mobility disabilities through Imagineart. She is a company member of the TILT performance group and Paradox Players.
#Acting #Theatre #Auditions #Ableism #Discrimination #Job #Career #CP #CerebralPalsy #Wheelie #Wheelchair #Covid #Pacman #Barriers #Podcast #Disability #Disabilities #StructuralAbleism #Courage #Gutsy #Humor #Comedy #Adventure #Imagination #Actress #Texas #DisabilityAdvocate #DisabilityAdvocates #DisabilityTwitter #Disabled #Unstoppable #Creative #Artistic #RepresentationMatters #RoleModel #WindowIntoMyWorld #SliceOfLife #Pandemic #Shopping #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs #MobilityAide #AmbulatoryDisabilities
Welcome to The True Tales by Disability Advocates, authentic voices of people. thriving with disabilities. Where individuals use the art of storytelling to change the world. The True Tales by Disability Advocates Podcast is produced by Art Spark Texas, Speaking Advocates Program. Keep listening to hear how lives challenges can spark a desire to speak out and advocate for yourselves and others.MsBoye:
Welcome to The True Tales by Disability Advocates podcast produced by Art Spark Texas. A team of disability advocates creates The True Tales to give voice to the personal stories and lived experience of disabled storytellers. We offer our unique and often underrepresented perspective to the growing community of podcast listeners worldwide. Your host for episode two is Toby Al-Trabulsi, actor writer and creative access advocate for performers with disabilities, based out of Austin, Texas. The storytellers in this episode are John Beer and Kristin Gooch, who talk about pursuing their passions and the importance of having a fun, passionate life as a wheelchair user. John Beer takes us along on his grocery store adventure, in his tale, "Is There a Doctor in the House?" Our second story, "I was Meant to Shine" by Kristin Gooch gives listeners an insight into the highs and lows of following her dreams as a disabled actress.Toby:
Welcome to the podcast where we change the world one story at a time. I'm Toby Al-Trabulsi and I'm your host for this episode. Our first guest John Beer tells his story "Is there a doctor in the house?" About facing the challenges of the COVID era and learning to shop for staples while in a wheelchair. Welcome John, great to have you. Would you tell our listeners what led you to the Speaking Advocates Program?John:
Yeah. Hi! In the shutdown of 2021, I wanted to connect with others and I saw that Art Spark was offering their first ever Virtual Speaking Advocates Program. So I signed up and it was, it was all about access.Toby:
Thanks, John, and now John will tell his tale. Let's have a listen.John:
Thank you, my name's John and this is, "Is There a Doctor in the House? We're here to open minds by sharing our experiences. So now I want to do just that. I want you to see things through my eyes, but first I'm gonna need your help. If you'll look behind my ear, there's a little latch. I'm quadriplegic and, I can't get it myself, I can't reach it. So could you get that for me? Thanks! This pops right up and the whole top flips off, like so! Now you can climb right into the captain's chair, right behind my eyes. Go on to have a seat. There! Flip it back closed, All right! You'll see there's emergency exits to your left and to the right and strap yourself in because it could be a bumpy ride. We've been quarantining religiously, but today's a special mission because we're out of staples here at the house. But even more importantly, my wife Maryanne is out of Dr. Pepper, and caregivers and lovers cannot exist by bread alone. So it's Diet DP STAT! I mean, you haven't seen Maryanne without Diet Dr. Pepper. Arrrgh! We'd better hurry. You ready to go? Let's get out of here. Okay. So we push through the front door and already she's got the wheelchair lift lowered. So let's back out to the wheelchair lift. Then we go up into the van, but we have to back into the back of the van and make sure there's room on all four sides for the tiedowns. While, she's doing that, kick on the jams and we go on our way. Now, rules of the road. These country roads can be bumpy, so you have to hold tight. So I want all of you to do something with me right now. Now, tighten up your stomach muscles. Right? and pull in your belly button to your spine and push your elbows into the arm rests. Can you feel how tight your belly is right now? Good because brace yourself here come the railroad tracks! Arrgh! It's rough riding with me, but just hang in there Kiddo, it's just getting started.. I promise. I'll try to warn you when the other potholes come, all right? We turn out onto the state highway. Brace yourself so ...POTHOLE! (Makes sound effects) Phew Eye-ey-yi Eye-ey-yi So we drive past the old woodmill. There's homesteads. There's a few ranches and there's an old family cemetery we go by. Seven miles into town, New Waverly, Texas, population 1142. There's not lot of money for roads and everybody drives big trucks. So, brace yourself, so POTHOLE! (Makes sound effects) (Makes sound effects) Eye-ey-yi! I told you it could be a rough ride with me, right? There's more of those, but I'll try to warn you. Like the one coming up, pulling into the Dollar Store, parking lot. BRACE YOURSELF!! (Sound effect) I warned you. Now, if you keep being a good sport though, I'll try to get you a little candy bar inside. How's that? Now let's mask up and get on in there. Okay, now it's time to play a game. Remember Pac-Man the classic arcade game? Everybody knows that game. Well this will be like Pac-Man in 3D. You and I are going to navigate the maze of aisles looking for our treasures. Which today are going to be noodles, fruit, and protein bars. All the time we have to dodge the obstacles and especially the "Blue Meanies" the people who refuse to wear masks. Which, in real life, I got a lot more direct term that I use for them, but that's a whole other speech. The clock will be ticking, so we gotta be quick. Cause when we don't, we could contract COVID that will be game over. Meanwhile, Mab will be working on her own list and then we'll meet up afterwards and get on out of there. So if you're ready, Player One, begin! We go down the first aisle. Waka waka waka waka waka That's a noise I like to make behind my mask. It's from the old Pac-Man game, remember that? You should see the stares I get when people see me go by... "What the?" Waka waka waka waka waka wocca! I can't have too good of a time, I have to keep my eyes on the road, because otherwise I crash into stuff and then it's..."Man down on Aisle One!" (laughs) But already we found our first item and that is Pad Thai Noodles. Of course I can't reach them and I can't write it down, so I remember P for Pad Thai Noodles and now we'll go to the next aisle. Waka waka waka waka waka! Aisle Two there's a pallet in the middle of the aisle. Skip! Go to the next section. All right, now we're in produce, apricots look good. Okay, A is for apricots So now we have P and we've got A. But we've also got like a family reunion here on the left and on the right a blue-meanie incoming. No mask! Think fast! Backup out of there. Waka waka waka waka waka waka! Next ailse. We got three quarters of the way down and there's a waka waka waka waka! All the way back. Waka waka waka waka waka waka!! Next aisle looking, coast is clear, coast is clear! The clear let's go, go, go, go down the aisle. Arrrgh! It's housewares nothing good to eat here. Next aisle, ahhh, look, it's our final treasure. It is protein bars, actually they're called Lara Bars. L is for Lara. So we have P, we got, A, we got L, P-A-L PAL. So let's go find Marianne and we'll track down pal. Waka waka waka waka waka! And then of course, she secured the prime directive, which is the grocery cart full of Diet D P. Which is liquid gold. Mission accomplished! So let's pay up and get out of here. Waka waka waka waka waka waka! All right back in the van, we're free to go home safe and sound. And since you were such a good sport, I got you that candy bar I promised. It's a Twix bar, so I hope you like to share, because remember I know where the potholes are! LAUGHS!Toby:
john Laughs) Welcome. Back. I'm here with John. Thanks for sharing your piece with us today. So, John, what did you take away from your experience?John:
Yeah, hi Toby, as I was writing this up, Toby, I realized that, that, despite all the extra challenges that I might have to deal with just doing a normal shopping trip, I realized too that you also got to have fun because this is your life. Right? And I realized that I kind of turned things into a game, that I've been playing Pac-Man in grocery stores for the last 20 years.Toby:
Love that! And, uh, here's a harder one. How do you feel that your experience changes the world?John:
Well, it's just a slice of a wheelchair life, but you can't really judge a man, they say until you walk a mile in his shoes. Well, here, I suppose you can't judge a man until you drive a mile in his wheelchair.Toby:
(John Laughs) Wow. Well, thanks so much for sharing your story with us. That trip to the store sounds action packed (John Laughs).John:
We'd love for you to come back and share more stories with us in the future John.John:
If, if people wanted to connect with you, what would be the best way for them to reach you and hear more work?John:
I blog at wheelieoutthere.Blogspot.com. Wheelie is W H E E L I E. And I also Instagram at, at wheelieoutthere.Toby:
Perfect. We'll put those links in the show notes and feel free to come back anytime, John. Thanks.John:
Thanks a lot. Toby's.Toby:
Stay with us for our next storyteller, Kristin Gooch, to hear her story about pursuing acting, stay tuned. Our next guest, Kristen Gooch shares her story, I Was Meant to Shine," about pursuing her dream of acting while having Cerebral Palsy and using a wheelchair for mobility. Welcome Kristen. So, before you share your story with us today, tell us what led you to the Speaking Advocates Program?Kristen:
Well, I've known about the Speaking Advocates Program when it was originally called Opening Minds, Opening Doors several years ago, but I never really had a chance to, participate in it, I never had the time. Then COVID happened and like millions of other people, my world was turned upside down. And I was trying to figure out what was next for me and I discovered that Art Spark was doing the Speaking Advocates Program virtual for the first time. I just knew that I had to sign up and share my story.Toby:
Fantastic. Thank you, Kristen. And now, Kristen will share her story with us. Let's listen.Kristen:
My name is Kristen Gooch and this is my story. I was Meant to Shine. Performing is my passion. I'm an actress with cerebral palsy and I use a wheelchair for mobility. Sure, my wheelchair has made it hard for me to just blend in. As a teenager, I used to resent this, but then I realized blending in is so overrated. I was meant to shine. Nearly seven years ago I joined TILT performance Group, a theater company for actors with disabilities. That's how I rediscovered my passion for performing. I love the rush. I can't explain it, there's just something magical about being on stage and connecting, not only with my cast mates, but with the audience as well. I can take words on a script and bring these characters to life, give them a voice, make the audience adore them or love to hate them and tell their stories. Not many people can say that. I am a proud member of TILT. As much as I love being an actress, it's an extremely difficult job. There's taking classes, memorizing lines, blocking, going to a lot of rehearsals and don't get me started on the torturous Tech week. Then there's the relationships with my fellow actors that are not always easy. If I want to keep working, I must go through the audition process. This can be daunting. Cold reading is challenging for those of us with dyslexia. I've learned to ask for a copy of my slides, so I can spend days practicing for a five minute audition. Even if I feel really good about my audition, the Director still might say, "Sorry, we're going in a different direction."... which means, you didn't get the role. It's disappointing, but I just keep going, being an actor requires resilience. I find that I actually get the role only one out of 12 auditions. Despite all of this, I've decided to broaden my horizons by performing with other theater companies, film and television. Acting is very competitive. There are far more talented actors than there are roles. It takes a lot of time and a lot of energy to find an opportunity to perform. Occasionally I can't help, but wonder if ableism plays a part in the fact that I didn't get cast. Other times, I don't have to wonder. I auditioned for a local theater company known for its inclusiveness. I felt proud of my work, but before I left, the Director said to me, I don't know what to do with a wheelchair on stage." As if that was a totally reasonable thing to say to me! My heart dropped into my stomach, like a freight elevator. I assured him, I didn't need any special treatment and I could pull my own weight hoping that he might reconsider, but he didn't. Moments like this sometimes really make me wanna give up, but I can't, quitting's not in my D.N.A.. How can I complain about lack of representation of actors with disabilities, if I don't keep putting myself out there? And besides if I want to be a role model for other women and girls in wheelchairs then I can't give up. I'm happy to say that things are changing in the theater. For instance, a Director of a mainstream production was looking for a girl with Cerebral Palsy in a wheelchair to play this part. I almost turned it down, but this was my chance to let people know that actresses in wheelchairs exist. When I'm on stage or in front of the camera it is my chance to open minds. I'm going to do everything in my power to help people see that when it comes to acting talent is talent, disability is irrelevant.Toby:
Wow, Kristen, that's really moving. Thank you for sharing your story with us today.Kristen:
Well thank you for having me.Toby:
Of course. So Kristen, tell us what did you takeaway from your experience from writing your advocacy story?Kristen:
Having my advocacy story in writing helped me realize that my voice matters.Toby:
That's great. Now, how do you feel that your story changes... or helps to change the world.Kristen:
My experience as an actress is really no different than any other actress. The only thing is occasionally I encounter ableism. I really hope after hearing my story, that anyone in a similar situation as me, that it might help them in pursuing their dreams, despite all the ableism that might be out there.Toby:
That's wonderful. Kristen, thank you so much for joining us today and giving us a look into the disabled experience of an actress, pursuing her dreams. We look forward to seeing your story unfold and seeing you in future projects.Kristen:
I will certainly keep you posted.MsBoye:
Thanks for listening to "Life on Wheels." Our show was hosted by Toby Al-Trabulsi and produced by Joey Gidseg. Edited a mixed by me Ms.Boye. Special thanks to John Beer and Kristin Gooch for being our storytellers. The script and production team also includes Jennifer Howell and Kamand Alaghehband is the voice of the program intro and outro. I'm Msboye coordinator of The Speaking Advocates Program, Art Spark, Texas, sparking the creative in everyone. This has been episode two of True Tales by Disability Advocates. If you have enjoyed the show, please share it with your friends and your allies. And if you're feeling inspired, you could even leave us a review. And of course, don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok and Twitter for details of future episodes.Kamand:
All episodes of The True Tales by Disability Advocates for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and anywhere you get your podcasts. The program is funded in part by a grant from the Texas state Independent Living Council, the Administration for Community Living and individuals like you. To learn about the Speaking Advocates Program sign up for our newsletter at Art Spark Texas dot org. That's A R T S P A R K T X.org. This free virtual training is open to people of all disabilities, no matter where you live.