Actor Elizabeth Morris on Inclusive Design for Theatre and Film

Image of actor, Elizabeth Morris
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Actor Elizabeth Morris’s latest role is in Jean Giraudoux’s satirical play The Madwoman of Chaillot at the Stratford Festival. Like any performer, she works hard to captivate audiences through strong acting and stage presence. Her work is expressed primarily, however, in American Sign Language (ASL).  

Morris’s substantial resume of theatre and film production credits includes a wide range of ASL storytelling, visual work, miming and stand-up comedy: “Sometimes I have ASL interpreters on hand to voiceover for me, for hearing members to hear, but my body language and facial expressions are very clear and big, so non-signers can pick up some of my signs,” she says. 

Morris also works as an ASL coach, an accessibility consultant, and an inclusive designer for theatres and films. She is a member of ACTRA and CAEA union.  She decided to attend OCAD U’s Inclusive Design program to research ways to make live theatres more accessible and inclusive for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and for their families.  

“I believe that if you want a change to happen, you have to be the person to change it,” says Morris of her research. In becoming an inclusive designer through the program, she hopes to reduce gaps in accessibility and forge new solutions specifically suited to theatre and film: “This research will always be evolving. I plan to open minds and help theatre companies be more willing to try new things.”  

Through interviewing Deaf actors and directors as part of her investigative process, Morris discovered different perspectives on accessibility issues: “Each individual is different,” she says. “The research is not only biased based on my own experiences, it’s inclusive of Deaf and Hard of Hearing who may have different levels of hearing loss.” She says that the program also made her more aware of accessibility issues for the blind.  

In film and theatre environments Morris works with ASL interpreters so that rehearsals and shows are accessible both to her and everyone else she’s collaborating with. Within the Inclusive Design program, OCAD U provided an ASL interpreters and a note taker for the same purpose, and much of the program is delivered through an online technology and learning system. Prior to attending OCAD U she completed her BA in Elementary Education and Educational Drama at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., which remains unique as the only liberal arts university for the Deaf in the world.  

Find out more: 

Mass Hysteria

Mass Hysteria
Thursday, November 1, 2007

A raucous evening of fast and furious 5-min performances, hosted by queens of satirical song, The Black Roses, and featuring outrageous artists such as Melanie Windle, Arabesque Dance Company, Rebecca Norton, Aurora Stewart de Pena, Nicola Holmes, Faeghan Williams, Integrated Media Professor Johanna Householder, Teresa Pavlinek, Sasha Van Bon Bon, Laura Barrett, Evalyn Parry, Hallie Burt and Alisha Stranges.

Venue & Address: 
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre 12 Alexander Street, Toronto, Ontario

Inclusive Design student Elizabeth Morris stars in "Ultrasound"

Inclusive Design Logo
Friday, May 13, 2016 - 6:30pm

Elizabeth Morris, MDes (2016) student in the Inclusive Design program, has a starring role in Ultrasound, the debut play from Adam Pottle. The play explores the relationship between a hard-of-hearing wife and Deaf husband and their perspectives towards Deaf culture as they learn whether their child will be hearing or Deaf.

Ultrasound runs from April 28th to May 15th at Theatre Passe Muraille.

For further details, please see this review from Torontoist:

City as Stage

Monica Virtue and Poster of Midsummer Nights Dream at Stratford Festival
Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - 5:00am

The research focus of Monica Virtue, a Digital Futures MDes (2016) Candidate, centers on the feasibility of developing a major digital multi-media exhibition for a prominent Canadian cultural attraction. Her study involves two industry and cultural partners – the Stratford Festival, an internationally-known repertory theatre company located in Stratford, Ontario, and Moment Factory, a creator of multi-media environments based in Montreal, Quebec. For this study, Virtue is investigating the potential for a Shakespeare-themed multi-media experience for the Stratford Festival, using a previous Moment Factory exhibition as a case study. The exhibition is Foresta Lumina, a night-time illuminated walk created in 2014 for Le Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook provincial park in Quebec. The Foresta Lumina installation combines storytelling about the area’s myths and legends with advanced digital technology such as projection mapping. Applying general knowledge gleaned from Foresta Lumina and other Moment Factory creations, as well as employing strategic business planning and foresighting techniques, Virtue's research focuses on areas of specific importance to the Stratford Festival: high-level storytelling possibilities that offer audience engagement; current resources and infrastructure, and potential partnerships with other organizations in the Stratford region. Working separately with representatives from both organizations, Monica Virtue is compiling her research into an interactive report that can be shared with the Stratford Festival, Moment Factory, and other stakeholders. 

More about Monica:

More about the Digital Futures Program:

Design With Dialogue

Image of a woman
Wednesday, November 11, 2015 - 11:00pm to Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 2:00am

Improvising Difficult Conversations

How can we engage in difficult conversations in a way that is productive, satisfying, and even FUN?

How can we open ourselves to learn something new about the other person's perspective?

What is the difference between a response and a reaction?

Lauren Stein will facilitate an interactive, experiential session that explores difficult conversations and fun ways to approach them. Using the tools of improvisational theatre, we will slow down the conversation to separate our reaction from our response, and use that information, both intellectual and emotional, to allow ourselves to make a more respectful response rather than a knee-jerk reaction. We will use the philosophy of "yes, and" to stay on the same side of the other person, even if we disagree about this particular issue. And we will stay open and curious, reminding ourselves that sometimes, the highest we can achieve from a difficult conversation is to understand the other person's point of view and remain respectful.

About the Host

Lauren Stein is director of Laurentina's Improv Club, where she performs and facilitates improvisational theatre experiences. She has taught and performed all over the world, including Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Ireland, and Switzerland. With her Master's in Expressive Arts Therapy, she helps people awaken their creativity and overcome life's hurdles through play.


Venue & Address: 
OCAD University 100 McCaul Street, Room 187

Materials Reimagined in Special Effects

Poster with an image of a man in profile
Thursday, February 12, 2015 - 5:00pm

Laird McMurray is the president of Laird FX, which is a specialty prototype design company, who engineers and manufactures devices and special effects for film, television, commercial, theatre and live events.

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul St. Room 530


Image of a small doll covered in beadwork
Friday, October 24, 2014 - 4:00am to Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 5:00am


Opening: October 24, 6 to 8 p.m.


Recast suggests the changing of roles often associated with theatre or film, or the remaking of something. This exhibition presents Christian Chapman’s video collaboration and Bev Koski's photographic series to consider how meaning shifts with the recasting of narrative and objects. Chapman invites Sébastien Aubin’s and Caroline Monnet’s media art collective AM, filmmaker Marja Bål Nango, and artist Nathan Young to join him as each edits super eight footage of a self-taught Woodland painter living in the bush. This experiment of outcomes reveals multiple roles of an artist. Koski's photographs of tourist kitsch figurines peering out from under beaded covers creates new personas for caricature depictions of Indigenous North Americans. These larger than life portraits give new meaning to the objects they represent, performing new roles and declaring an unexpected presence.

Co-presenter and commissioning partner: imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival 



Bev Koski is an Anishnabekwe artist who lives in Toronto. She is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and has a BFA from York University. Koski was involved with 7th Generation Image Makers, an art and mural programme for Indigenous youth run by Native Child and Family Services of Toronto. She currently teaches beading at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, among other places. She is a constant beader and occasional artist.


Christian Chapman is of Anishnaabeg heritage from Fort William First Nation. His interests include painting, printmaking and film. Chapman uses storytelling as a main theme in his practice to compose his images. The act of storytelling has been an important part of his life: it has informed him of his culture by shaping his identity and personal experiences.

Collaborators for Edmazinbiiget:

With a Bachelors of Fine Arts (major in Graphic Design) from the University of Québec, Sébastien Aubin has worked for Kolegram, one of the most prestigious graphic design studios in Québec, and has since shaped his professional career as a freelance graphic artist. Aubin has done publications for numerous artists, organizations and art galleries in Winnipeg, Montréal and Ottawa, including Plug In ICA Close Encounters, the next 500 years, Terrance Houle, KC Adams, Carleton University Art Gallery, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, and Art Gallery of South Western Manitoba. Aubin is one of the founding members of the ITWÉ collective that is dedicated to research, creation, production and education of Aboriginal digital culture. Currently based in Montréal, QC, Sébastien Aubin is a proud member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Manitoba.

Nathan Young is a multidisciplinary artist working in the mediums of film, documentary, animation, multi-media installation, and experimental and improvised music. Young’s filmmaking focuses primarily on health and social issues in American Indian communities and his films have screened in international film festivals as well as having been featured in the National Geographic All Roads Film Festival and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian Film + Video Festival. He received his Bachelors degree in art history from the University of Oklahoma. Nathan is of Pawnee, Kiowa and Delaware decent.

Caroline Monnet (1985) is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist of Algonquin ancestry from Outaouais, Québec. Her work demonstrates a keen interest in communicating complex ideas around Indigenous identity and bicultural living through the examination of cultural histories. Monnet has exhibited in Canada and internationally in such venues as the Palais de Tokyo (Paris) and Haus der Kulturen (Berlin) for the Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid, Toronto International Film Festival, Aesthetica (UK), Cannes Film Festival (not short on talent) and Arsenal (Montréal). Monnet lives in Montréal and is also a founding member of the Aboriginal digital arts collective ITWÉ.

 Marja Bål Nango is an Sámi artist and filmmaker from Galgujávri in Norway. Nango attended Nordland College of Art, Film and Film & Television studies in Lillehammer University College and studied film producing at Sámi University College. During Riddu Riddu Indigenous Festival 2011, she was the young artist of the year, with a solo-exhibition of art and her own film program. In 2012, Her short film for children, Juletrollet (The Christmas Troll) was purchased by The Norwegian Film Institute and screened in children’s short film program at cinemas all over Norway. She is now working on two different film projects with a three year film grant, a documentary project and a longer film script.



Lisa Myers is of Anishnaabe ancestry from Beausoleil First Nation and the Georgian Bay region. She grew up in Milton, Ontario. Myers earned her Master of Fine Arts in Criticism and Curatorial Practice at OCAD University and continues her research as an independent curator. Myers has curated exhibitions at the MacLaren Art Centre and the York Quay Centre at Harbourfront in Toronto. She lives and works in Toronto and Port Severn, Ontario.

Venue & Address: 
Gallery 44 401 Richmond St. W. Suite #120

Students stage Othello exhibition at the British Institute in Florence

OCAD U Florence students and faculty at the British Institute as part of Shakespeare Week. Photo: Elizabeth Ladly.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 4:00pm

As part of Shakespeare Week last week in Florence Italy, OCAD University Florence program students curated and presented the exhibition Staging Reality, a series of contemporary art responses to Othello, at the British Institute of Florence.

“It was a great opportunity, with a large audience of Florentines, expatriate residents and visitors offering excellent exposure for our student's work,” said OCAD U Professor Martha Ladly, who is currently Visiting Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. “Student curator Sarah England is to be especially congratulated.”