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/2017/11/Linnea-Berthelsen-Stranger-Things.jpg
Linnea Berthelse on Her ‘Stranger Things’ Audition and Keeping Her Role a Secret for a Year
“Sometimes when actors don’t get the part, it’s not always about an actor being a bad actor; it’s about connecting to the material.” – Linnea Berthelsen Stranger Things is back on our screens with its second season, something fans have been waiting for ever since season one arrived on Netflix in 2016. Returning to the […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/jonathan-groff-hamilton.jpg
Jonathan Groff on Playing King George III in ‘Hamilton’: “I rehearsed for about a day, and then went into the show”
Can you even imagine stepping into a role in one of the biggest Broadway hits of all time with barely any time to prepare?
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/lina-esco-swat.jpg
Lina Esco on Playing the Only Female Officer on ‘S.W.AT.’: “I have to portray her as someone equal to all of the guys on her team”
"The important thing for me when I read scripts is how much respect I have for the character and how far I can take her" - Lina Esco
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/sam-rockwell-three-billboards.jpg
Sam Rockwell on Typecasting and One of His Worst Auditions
"I’m kind of a workhorse. It takes a toll" - Sam Rockwell
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/rachel-bloom-crazy-ex-girlfriend.jpg
Rachel Bloom: “The way that I learned comedy was not rigid, but this very specific technique taught by the Upright Citizens Brigade”
"I went from being a person who was doing moderately successful videos online and working as a moderately successful TV writer and aspiring to do this to having a Golden Globe." - Rachel Bloom