Paraplegic Actor Wears Exoskeleton to Portray Richard III on Stage

Michael Patrick Thornton in Richard III

Michael Patrick Thornton, who has used a wheelchair since a 2003 spinal stroke, has appeared in a multi-episode arc on TV’s Private Practice and in the 2011 film The Dilemma and is a member of The Gift at Steppenwolf theater company in Chicago. While all of those accomplishments are impressive, Thornton’s latest role is a worldwide first — he is the first actor to perform on stage in an exoskeleton, which astonishingly allows him to walk. Appropriately, Thornton is portraying the lead role of William’s Shakespeare’s Richard III, the most infamous disabled character in theater.

The Rewalk exoskeleton, which utilizes a walker and wearable robotics to allow Thornton to move his legs, was developed by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Thornton practiced for “hundreds of hours” in the Rewalk, Dr. Arun Jayaraman, of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago telling ABC Chicago, “He walked with his eyes closed on the first day which has never happened before in the history of research with this device.” The partnership with Rewalk has proved to be fruitful, with Thornton adding, “This company Rewalk have collaborated with the Gift Theatre to put on a production of Richard III. Richard is the most famous disabled character in the history of literature arguably, usually played by an able-bodied actor or a non-disabled actor, pretending to be disabled. Obviously in our production that’s a little different.”

The Gift Theatre’s production of Richard III is scheduled to run through May 1 at Cicago’s Steppenwolf Garage Space. For more information, visit The Gift Theatre.

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/jake-gyllenhaal-sunday-in-the-park.jpg
Jake Gyllenhaal Talks ‘Life’, Preparation and Singing Sondheim
"My favorite actors are like artists" - Jake Gyllenhaal
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/luke-evans-gaston.jpg
‘Beauty and the Beast’ Star Luke Evans: “If there’s one thing I’m comfortable doing in this life it’s singing”
What fans might not be aware of, is that Evans started out in theater, and didn't land his first film role until he hit 30.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ewan-mcgregor-trainspotting.jpg
Ewan McGregor on Playing Renton Again in ‘T2 Trainspotting’: “It all felt right”
"I feel being Renton again, he was just waiting inside me to come out." - Ewan McGregor
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Kal-Penn.jpg
Kal Penn’s Old Scripts Reveal Early Career Discrimination
Penn posted, "Found a bunch of my old scripts from some of my first years trying to be an actor." Here are some scripts included projects that called for:
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Mark-Ruffalo.jpg
Mark Ruffalo on his Return to Broadway: “All I wanted to do was get on a stage with a group of people I trust and love and do a great play”
In the current Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's The Price, Mark Ruffalo returns to Broadway for the first time in over a decade (he last appeared in 2006's Awake and Sing!)