Columbia Student Featured in New Web Adventure Series by Chicago Children’s Theatre

Kayla Casiano in the adventure web series, "This Ability"Kayla Casiano in the adventure web series, "This Ability"
Theatre Student Kayla Casiano plays a superhero in “This Ability”

Kayla Casiano, an Acting major in Columbia College Chicago’s Theatre Department who is deaf, is featured in “This Ability,” a new web adventure series by Chicago Children’s Theatre.

The three-part series by Daniel Carlton and Nambi E. Kelley, features three superheroes—one who is deaf, one who is blind, and one who has autism. In the series, the superheroes use their abilities to rescue a celebrity cat. Episode two stars Kayla as Moore The Protector.

Episode one of “This Ability” was released on Wednesday, December 15 via the company’s YouTube channel, CCTV: Virtual Theatre and Learning from Chicago Children’s Theatre. Episode two featuring Casiano will be available on Wednesday, January 5, and the final episode will be released on January 19.

Creating a fully accessible and inclusive film set was important in producing the series at Chicago Children’s Theatre. Each actor was paired with a professional access specialist to work alongside them, the creative team, and the production crew. ASL interpreter Patti Shore Kaden supported Kayla throughout the production.

“Right now, there is a strong demand for a sense of authenticity when it comes to writing narratives including Deaf characters, whether it’s for a stage play or full film feature, which requires deep understanding of the cultural norms as well as using American Sign Language fluently,” says Peter Cook, Chair and Associate Professor of American Sign Language at Columbia College Chicago. “Historically, Deaf characters have been given to hearing actors who barely interact with the Deaf community and unfortunately, it shows a lack of authenticity in their works, no matter how much they invest in their roles. By creating greater access to professional theater communities, Deaf actors will be able to contribute their works to enrich the diversity spectrum in professional theaters. That is truly a self-empowerment experience for all who participate in the process.” 



Daisy Franco
Communications Manager