The hardest part about acting, said Ernest Pipoly, is moving around the stage.
"I always had a problem to manouver," said Pipoly, 71, in a matter-of-fact tone, as if the challenge of moving around on a stage is just another small inconvenience and one that will be gotten around soon enough. "I don't know why. It's just something I've got to overcome."
Pipoly, who is almost completely blind, because of advanced glaucoma and cataracts, is one of the cast members of Steven Dietz's play Private Eyes, being put on by Theatre by the Blind at the , opening Mar. 10.
"A blind person's biggest fear is moving around in space," said the play's director Greg Shane. "They fear bumping into things. They fear just not having control."
But aside from areas with different textures on the stage floor, the occasional sound cue and voice recordings of their lines, Shane said he does not treat his all-blind cast any differently from any other actors.
"I never look at them as different," he said. "I try to push their limits."
Shane, who started the nonprofit CRE Outreach, which oversees Theatre by the Blind, has been working with most of his nine-member cast for several years. Their prior productions have been original scripts that were developed by the actors through improvisations. The actors would make up scenes as they went, then the script would be written around what they had made up.
Stephen Dietz's Private Eyes, however, is the first published script the group has taken on.
"I thought that it would be a really good challenge to not have a script tailored to their strengths," Shane said. "There's no room for error. They can't get a word wrong. That really presents a different challenge."
"At first it was kind of hard to learn it," said Leela Kazarouni, who plays a therapist in the show. "But I kept going at it, kept practicing and I came to like it. It's different than the ones we usually do. I think it's a good play."
"I like the second act better than I do the first," Pipoly said. He plays a director. "It seems like I've got more power and more control as the performer and the character, so I can throw off that attitude in the second act."
Both he and Kazarouni have been acting with the group for approximately 15 years, first as members of Changing Perceptions, founded by Christina Kokobo in 2000, and then under the CRE Outreach umbrella when Kokobo died about five years ago. Shane said that he recruits his actors through the Braille Institute in Los Angeles.
Jake O'Flaherty, the program coordinator for Promenade Playhouse, said that he was happy to be hosting the group.
"Because of what the program is and what it represents, I thought that was amazing for the community and the playhouse," he said.
He said that he will have to remove some set pieces to make it easier for the actors to get on and off stage and that the group asked for very specific measurements for the playing space, but that he didn't have to make too many accomodations for the cast.
"I'll be more involved this week during the tech and dress rehearsals," O'Flaherty said. "I'm really excited about it. I'm really looking forward to seeing this performance."
Thanks to some health issues that occurred while the play was in rehearsal, each role will be played by two actors, alternating each night over the show's five-week run. The actors are also playing sighted people.
"You would not even know they're blind," Shane said.
Private Eyes runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through April 8. For tickets and more information, click here.