Paraplegic Actor Wears Exoskeleton to Portray Richard III on Stage

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

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.

Share.

About Author

In college, overachiever Christopher McKittrick double-majored in Film and English because he loves to read, write, and watch movies. Since then Chris – who was born and raised on Long Island, New York and currently lives in Queens – has become a published author of fiction and non-fiction, a contributor to entertainment websites, and has spoken about literature, film, and comic books at various conferences across the country when he’s not getting into trouble in New York City (apparently it’s illegal to sleep on street corners...)For more information about Chris, visit his website here!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

//Block AdBlock String