Earl Terry Calls Tyler Perry Out for Refusing to Allow Interpreters on Stage

By: Mary Patricia

Tyler Perry’s “Madea’s Farewell Play Tour” is Perry’s 21st stage play. Perry announced that he would be hanging up Madea’s wig in 2019, with this expected final stage play. On April 11, at the Maeda Farewell Play Tour in Rochester, New York, Earl Terry left the play with tears in his eyes. These tears were not from laughter, but rather frustration and sadness. He had arrived thirty minutes early to make sure the interpreters were present and everything was set. At that point, Terry was informed by the interpreters that they were not allowed on stage because Tyler Perry himself had said no.

The interpreters told me, "Tyler Perry said no to that." They'd tried to work with Tyler Perry, telling him that Deaf patrons were coming to see his show, and he hadn't been interested in hearing any of that but had just repeated "No." (Earl Terry)

Terry recounted the oppressive experience he had just endured. His frustration stemmed from the lack of accessibility. The problems with visibility of the interpreters became apparent once the show began. “The show started and the lights went down. As it got really dark, a video came onscreen with people talking--but I couldn't see what the interpreters were signing in the dark!”(Earl Terry) 

Not only were interpreters not visible, the captions on the screen were on a delay, “Joseph Hill was sitting next to me, and when I asked him, he said the captions were on a ten-second delay. How was I supposed to understand the action when everything was out of sync?” (Earl Terry)

Yesterday on April 18th, Terry announced on his Facebook account that he was able to meet with the Chief Operating Officer, Vice President, and House Manager of the Rochester Broadway Theatre where the show took place. A group of people that attended the play were able to share their experiences at various stages and plays and presented ideas and recommendations. The goal of this meeting was to help the theatre understand how to better accommodate various people with disabilities. The Center for Disability Rights was able to provide guidance and suggestions/resources for the meeting as well.

Terry was also pleased to announce that he was able to get a refund for his ticket.