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His parents named Ray-Man after the surrealist photographer, Man Ray. They hoped it would inspire him artistically and creatively. And when the 24-year-old student and Dollar Store employee landed the lead role in a Montreal production of The Princess and the Frog, they knew he would fulfill his name’s bold promise. Ray-Man has Down syndrome, and consequently faces unique challenges in this endeavor.
Although confident and good-natured, Ray struggles with anger issues. His parents Jim and Carol have poured so much time, devotion and love into their son’s life, and the results show in Ray-Man’s many sucesses.
By the time Tanya moved into her mid-thirties, she found herself in a difficult situation. Her Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) not only causes developmental delays, but an uncontrollable appetite coupled with intense mood swings. Morbidly obese and coping with depression, Tanya started harboring angry, intense and even suicidal thoughts made worse by her challenged mobility and the host of health problems associated with her weight.
For Tanya, performing in the play becomes a arena to battle her demons, which often lead to uncomfortable breakdowns. This not only frustrates her, but her fellow cast mates and mentors who often find it hard to persist through these stormy cycles.
And yet, in casting Tanya as a wicked scientist who eventually redeems herself, her personal life begins to mirror her on stage persona. Learning her lines, pushing beyond her comfort zone, and performing with confidence works as well as the magical tonics she brews during her performance.
Stephen, the troupe’s charismatic mentor, has had a lifetime of experience as an actor and theatre director. He teaches creative art therapies and is the co-founder of the Centre for the Arts in Human Development at Concordia. The Frog and Princess is the ninth play the center has mounted since it started over 14 years ago. Snow has always been interested in collaborating with the special needs population.His mission has been to give voice and expression to those who have been relegated to the margins, and integrate them a bit more into the mainstream. Since 1980 he has directed productions with senior psychiatric patients, at-risk youth and people with all manner of developmental disabilities.