Philadelphia performer Martha Graham Cracker is the saucy, hairy-chested, evening-gown-wearing comic alter ego of Philadelphia actor Dito Van Reigersberg.
Under the banner, “The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret,” Martha and her band perform cover songs with drag-queen bawdy good humor. Now, for the first time, the group’s performance will be radically accessible to those within the disability community.
On Monday, for one night only, at FringeArts, the act will include accessible accommodations. American Sign Language interpreters will be on stage, signing Martha’s every utterance. Computer-aided real-time captioning is set for those with hearing loss. And audio descriptions will present the show’s action for the blind or visually impaired.
It will be challenging to follow the highly improvisational Martha’s every word and action, said Charlie Miller, director of programming at Art-Reach, an organization that provides affordable, accessible cultural experiences.
“Once you commit to (accommodations), you start bringing in people from the disability community, and (you) want to pay for those accommodations and be a part of it and see the reward over time,” he said. “Everyone should have access to Martha, so in what ways can we pull down those walls?”
Van Reigersberg, fresh off a David Bowie tribute, said this performance will have him a little more self-conscious than usual.
“What I’m improvising is being mediated by various interpreters,” he said. “I’m kind of excited about that.”
That said, his high-energy performance as Martha has been described by fans as one big flirtation.
“Flirtation is a universal language,” Van Reigersberg said.