'Legless cripple' cut from play promo

Following complaints from disabled artists, all references to "legless cripples" have been removed from the description of a play at the National Arts Centre.

Following complaints from disabled artists, all references to "legless cripples" have been removed from the description of a play at the National Arts Centre.

The NAC's French theatre website originally billed Une fête pour Boris as: "The story of a legless cripple who invites a bunch of legless cripples to a birthday party for a legless cripple."

However, last Thursday the NAC changed the text so that it no longer contained the phrase "legless cripple." In addition, the news release for the play, which ran Feb. 24 to 27, was removed from the site.

The change was a response to complaints from the Radical Disabled Artists Network, the NAC confirmed.

The group had written to the NAC before the play opened, criticizing the description as showing a lack of respect for the culture and history of disabled people. It had demanded an apology from the NAC.

"The NAC sympathized with the concerns raised," said Rosemary Thompson, director of communications for the centre, in a statement Monday.

The arts centre had originally defended the description as using the words of its Austrian playwright, Thomas Bernhard.

Alan Shain, spokesman for the Radical Disabled Artists Network said the group is pleased with the NAC's decision.

"In doing this, the NAC has shown a degree of sensitivity to the derogatory nature of these terms," Shain said in a statement Monday. 

"We had hoped that these changes to the promotional materials would have occurred sooner and before the play had opened."

Shain said Radical Disabled Artists' concerns were never about the play itself, but rather about how it was being promoted.