Inclusivity Is Easy, ReelAbilities Filmmakers Say—You Just Have To Try

Sep 4, 2019

On today's program: Gov. Tom Wolf hopes his recent executive orders lead to chamber-debated legislation; a reform commission suggests creating a new team to redraw PA's congressional map in 2020; Pittsburgh's Shakespeare in the Park presents a brand new take on the story of Caesar; and a film festival spotlights the work and stories of people with different abilities. 

Wolf likens executive orders to conversation starters
(00:00 — 08:36) 

Gov. Tom Wolf issued four executive orders over the summer, addressing administration priorities like creating an Office of Gun Violence Prevention and borrowing money to help counties pay for newly mandated voting machines. Wolf says he's using executive orders as a tool to work in a divided government. 

"These are things that I think there's broad support for among the people of Pennsylvania," Wolf told 90.5 WESA's The Confluence on a recent trip to Pittsburgh. "And (there's) probably broader support than we think from the General Assembly. It's just sort of, 'Let's get moving on this.'"

Who will redraw PA's congressional map?
(08:39 — 16:20) 

A commission set up by Gov. Wolf recommended an 11-person panel should redraw the state's congressional and legislative districts after the 2020 census.

The report issued by the Pennsylvania Redistricting Reform Commission says the role of politicians in drawing maps should be limited. Its chairman, David Thornburgh, recommends each party select an even number of members—two of five selections must come from the opposing party—with the 11th member chosen by the governor. 

"People are tired of these bitter partisan debates where one side that has five votes beats the other side that has four votes and then we all have to live with it," Thornburg says. 

Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar' looks decidedly femme
(17:48 — 22:38) 

A new production of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" turns the Elizabethan practice of using an all-male cast on its head. Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks' newest show will feature the story of the would-be Roman emperor performed by an all-female cast. 90.5 WESA's Bill O'Driscoll reports that PSIP’s cast of 10 women will inevitably give a different feel to the show—and not just when Cassius, played by Lisa Ann Goldsmith, laments Romans’ lack of resistance to Caesar by saying, “Our yoke and sufferance show us womanish.” The first of the show’s eight free outdoor performances at three city parks is Saturday, in Frick Park. 

Film fest shows off participants' 'reel' abilities
(22:40 — 38:53) 

The 7th annual ReelAbilities Pittsburgh Film Festival kicks off Wednesday at South Side Works Cinema. The festival presents 22 award-winning films promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of individuals with different abilities. Joining The Confluence to talk about this year's lineup are: 

  • Kathryn Spitz Cohan, executive director of Film Pittsburgh;
  • Genevieve Clay-Smith, founder and director of Australian film company Bus Stop Films; and,
  • Kristy Trautmann, executive director of the FISA Foundation, which does work to benefit those with disabilities.

People with disabilities are an integral part of every day life, Trautmann says, but are represented by fewer than 2% of characters in top television and film productions. Clay-Smith says her experience working with actors and crew with disabilities has been fruitful, coming in ahead of schedule and with a wealth of perspective the projects might have otherwise lacked. Her work earned her an Australian Human Rights award in 2016.

90.5 WESA's Julia Maruca contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.