Disabled actress talks about working on stage

March 22, 2010 12:47:55 PM PDT
A dysfunctional family is torn apart by an unforeseen tragedy in the Goodman Theatre's "The Long Red Road".

One of the main characters in the production has a disability. Katy Sullivan, 30, plays the wife of Sam.

"I play the mother of this family, the matriarch of the family. She's the mother of two daughters and married to this man and we have not seen him in a while because of a tragic circumstance that happens and he leaves us," said Sullivan.

"The Long Red Road," which is directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, takes place on a South Dakota Indian reservation. Sullivan said this role is perfect for her. She is a double amputee.

"My disability was from birth. So this is all I've known. I got my first pair of prosthetics when I was one," said Sullivan.

"The character was actually written as a bi-lateral above the knee amputee and I think it's pretty amazing that they wrote this character just hoping that they'd find somebody," said Sullivan.

She has been doing professional theatre and appearing in films and on TV. She said finding roles has been challenging.

"Being a performer with a disability, they definitely want to put you in a box and there are moments where it's like 'oh yeah great it's a girl in a wheelchair. You're perfect. You're great because I have the training and I have been an actor for years and years and years. But the victory for me is the day that I get the phone call and they say they want you to read for a character who has legs and it doesn't matter," said Sullivan.

She and her husband have developed a TV show.

"It's all about my husband, a stand up comedian and happens to have spinal cord injury. And I'm an actress with you know this physical circumstance as well. It's a show about us and how do people with disabilities make careers in the entertainment industry," said Sullivan.

"The Long Red Road" ended over the weekend.

" ....I'm gonna miss the people. My castmates have been just phenomenal playmates and I adored being back in Chicago. Chicago's such a fantastic city and it's so full of life and it's been so fun being back here and also being at the Goodman," said Sullivan.