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Not losing sight of opportunity

May 22, 2005|Don Shirley

"Revelation" is the title of a new play by Christina Kokubo. And when it opens next month in Los Angeles, it may well be true to its title. That's because the cast will be made up entirely of blind actors, although the characters are all fully sighted.

The play, about a group of people in a mystical land taking shelter during a crisis, was written and is being directed by Kokubo, who began teaching drama at the Braille Institute five years ago. She now runs Changing Perceptions, a free drama program for adults with visual or other physical disabilities.

"Revelation" will be the nonprofessional group's first full production for the public. Performances are June 4 to 19 at the L.A. Design Center on South Western Avenue.

To facilitate the movements of the actors, a system of cables and artificial turf will be taped to the stage floor. In addition, the actors will wear costumes with implanted devices that make individual sounds, to help them keep track of where everyone is.

Cast member Tina Kinzel plays "a party girl," she says, although she is actually "a mom with a 15-year-old son" and a retired director of network engineering for SBC.

Kinzel, 50, has always been legally blind from retinitis pigmentosa but has had some vision, albeit steadily declining. Now her sight is so foggy she can no longer read.

It was her son's interest in acting that drew her family to L.A. from Michigan five years ago. He is no longer inclined toward the actor's life, but she will be performing in a play for the first time in her life.

"As you lose your vision," she says, "you tend to close down emotions," whereas acting brings them back. And as she puts it: "This is totally about emotion."

-- Don Shirley

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