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Romance, Relationships & Rights 
collectively created by neurodiverse artists

"Whether or not people live with a disability or limitations, we all have the right to a relationship, to say no, to take action, and the right to friendships and to romance.”
~ Larissa Gunkel, Actor & Co-Creator

Romance, Relationships & Rights confronts misconceptions about adults with intellectual disabilities. Audiences are challenged to think differently about how we value, respect, and support self-advocates' rights to romance and intimate relationships. The production is based on research by the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship and was co-created with self-advocates supported by the Community Living Society.

Canadian Institute for Inclusion & Citizenship with Community Living Society, Anvil Centre, April 2019
Vancouver Foundation Grant recipient

This company’s theatre based approach brings together self-advocates to develop scenes based on themes and issues they face in their lives. Dr. Leyton Schnellert, Co-Director and Co-Producer with Jessica Anne Nelson, described the experience as “social justice theatre by the community, for the community.” In the Fall, workshops were available for self advocates to develop their acting skills and then in January they identified the key topics and issues they wanted to address. Through facilitated activities, the Company created scenes, the dialogue within them, and Romance, Relationships &Rights was born! Undergraduate students, graduate students and theatre professionals co-facilitated the development of the theatre piece and mentored self-advocate actors and technicians. UBC student and Assistant Stage Manager Catherine McLaren noted, “this invigorating collaborative experience has shown me how accessible and adaptable theatre can and should be.” Actor/co-creators viewed Real Talk films to clarify the direction of their scenes. The films also serve as transition pieces within the production.

To watch a recording of the full production click here

To learn more about the project and all those artists involved click here.


Amy Chan

David dela Torre

Dana Faris

Larissa Gunkel

Chris Ham

Kurtis Johnson

Jay McInnis

Mackenzie McKay Marsh

David Palmer

Aaron Pietras

Krisssy Pilorusso

Renu Shambhy

Carrol Sheaves

Dan Tell

Justin Van Cleef


Creative Team:

Co-Directors & Producers: Jessica Anne Nelson & Leyton Schnellert

Assistant Directors: Haley Lor & Catherine McLaren

Set Designer: Kimira Reddy

Sound Designer: Sammie Hatch

Lighting Designer: Rachel Shaen

Stage Manager: Megan “Fosse” Fass

Assistant Stage Manager: Catherine McLaren

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