SPEAK Season 2 Episode 1: Magic Window

Ada Chan: Magic Window, acrylic on canvas

Rachel: Today on SPEAK, we’re bringing you the first episode of season two,

Debbie: We’re back again, people! We’re back, baby. We never backed down. Rachel: SPEAK is artists with developmental disabilities telling their own stories.

Rachel: And for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to catch season one, can you tell them about what they’ve missed?

Debbie: We’ve talked about —

[flashback to Season 1]

“I am a dragon as well as a human.

The dragons called me mother.”

Debbie: And devil.

[flashback to Season 1]

“I grabbed the devil one night and I started to kick the tire nations out of it.”

Debbie: We talked about strokes and Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons.

[music: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons]

Debbie: We’ve talked about love.

[flashback to Season 1]

“Well, when the face smiles, I like to catch the smile. I kinda like that. Yeah. There you go. No eyes, no nose, just the smile.

Yeah. That’s fun.”

Debbie: Yeah. We talked about love and hope.

[flashback to Season 1]

“My butt changed into a Furby abdomen.

It was my spider butt.”

Debbie: Today on the show, we’re hearing stories from Ada Chan.

Rachel: Ada’s story is about the magic window, which takes her to all kinds of different places. It’s like a portal.

Debbie: That’s going to be good. That’s going to be a great story.

[joyous piano music begins]

Ada: My name is Ada Chen and I am a down syndrome girl. And I came to Canada in 1996 from Hong Kong with my parents.

Magic window is one of my painting from BEING Studio.

[Ada’s narration begins]

Day 1

This painting I paint is that magic window. Let me tell you the secret of this magic window. This is real magic.

The window move automatically.

Will you be brave enough to go through this magic window?

It is very scary.

Because this magic window is a drop zone.

So it just disappear when you peek inside, is it scary?

The coolest thing is that people only see a regular window, but not this magic window. YAY!

If you are in your house, apartment, condos, retirement home, group home, seniors home, and bungalow as well, try it yourself, look at your window now, then tell me what you saw.

Day 2: Thank You, Welcome to the Outer Space.

Magic window brings me to outer space.

So I remember a song called Twinkle Little Stars. I sang it over and over again when I was flying with the stars.

Twinkle twinkle twinkle little stars. How I wonder, what you are. Up above the world so high, welcome to the outer space!

You won’t believe that I saw sailor moon fly by!

That is so cool.

I used to wear the Sailor Moon outfit and hair-do to parties. I have their poster and I’m a super fan. I saw a spaceship stop right in front of me, there are tiny little people coming to greet me. We talked in the space language for hours and never feel tired.

beep beep beep.

[wonderous electronic music layered with the sounds of a spaceship landing; Ada’s voice interlaced with space speech]

They welcome me to their spaceship and treat me to some space food. This is the coolest thing ever to be able to eat in a spaceship.

There are chicken tenders and soup balls. I become so full and fall asleep. I don’t know how long or short I slept. It was a space trip I can never forget.

[sonic transition, the sounds spaced out]

Day 3, the Hammock:

What comes next?

[sounds of waves and birds]

Well, guess what happened to this magic window! I saw a huge ocean. That is so unbelievable. I dropped into the big, huge ocean like a fish [splash!], but actually, I am still a human being.

That next second. I was on a cruise boat. Ah, you’re kidding me?!

[cheery music with the genuine joy of being outside in the sun on the water and dancing light]

I am on an all inclusive boat cruise I can enjoy the sunshine, especially on the beach, I saw beautiful dolphins jumping out of the water. as I said, try to look at your window and tell me what you saw.

[magic window portal sounds]

Day 4: The City and the Eyeglasses

[music of a futuristic cityscape]

Look at that magic window and surprise to see everyone is wearing very cool eyeglasses. I mean, everyone is having this pair of eyeglasses, no matter what age, it is like they meet these too late.

So I want to go, who is waiting for the base at the star? Why everyone is wearing the eyeglasses. I asked.

She said, this is a special device to be able to see the COVID virus through these eyeglasses. People can see from a distance, the virus on and surface, COVID looks like a spiky ball with red dots. It is very scary. It keeps moving and sliding.

I think the super eyeglasses company should be awarded the best invention of that decade. Although I am already wearing my own eyeglasses, I put these super eyeglasses on top. Now look at the window and the people out there — do you see what I saw?

Day 5: At the Gym Room.

Magic window took me to a gym room.There are lots of athletes crowded around. I saw my girl friend, Claire, who is practicing her routine. We are good friends for many years. While Claire was still practicing, I heard them call my name to perform.

[gymnasium announcement]

“Ada Chan.”

Suddenly, I got dressed up in the most beautiful outfit, ready to perform the ribbon routine.

The music is Butterfly Lover.

[a few bars of Butterfly Lover weave into the soundscape of joyous strings]

Yes. This is the dance about a couple falling in love. So I danced with full energy.

My ribbon routine outfit looks like a butterfly in gold and red. There are some blink blink scatter the body and the sleeve. And the ribbon is flowing with the rhythm which looks like the wings of a butterfly.

I feel like a real butterfly flying in the wind. I keep dancing in the music as if I was a butterfly.

At the end, after the dance, the athletes cheer for me because I have a full score. And of course, I got gold medal at the end. Then I heard my name was called again, “Ada Chan!”

This time, I was performing with Claire and two other girls. We performed the ball routine together. We have a full score too. So, we all have gold medal at the end.

Wait a minute.

“Ada —”

I heard my name again, but this time. This sounds like my mom’s voice calling me.

“Ada, Ada, Ada, Ada…” [Ada’s mom calls her name, progressively getting louder.]

Oh, well.

[Ada’s narration ends]

Rachel: That was Ada Chan guiding us through the world of her painting magic window and listening to Ada stories reminded me of the role of portals in my own life. Especially when I was a kid.

You have experience with portals? Don’t you, Debbie.

Debbie: Yeah, I do. I wound up in a hole and landed and the dragon world and when I first stepped out of the hole that I was in, covered in mud and tree branches and scrapes and everything else. It blew up into beautiful colors. I brought the colors with me. And everything I looked at turn the color, like different colors, shades of colors.

Rachel: Yeah for me, I was always looking for them. So I remember being in elementary school and kind of scanning the fences and looking under the fence, or there was a hole in the fence that I really thought might be a portal, or I remember thinking, if I stared long enough into the eyes of my cat, that maybe that would take me to another world or one time I found a rock that changed color when you put it in a water. And I felt like if I held that rock, maybe to my forehead, That would take me to another world.

Debbie: Aww that’s brilliant.

Rachel: When I was in the pool, I would always look around and you know how sometimes there’s like those vents or they look like little windows. Yeah. Yeah. So what I thought was maybe there were mermaids and the mermaids would come to those events and they would look in the pool and they would be watching for kids who.

I had the heart of our mermaid. So it was like, I would swim in the pool, kind of like, I was auditioning all the time in the hopes that the mermaid would take me and then I would go live in this other world under the sea with them. But yeah, for my, all my portals, I didn’t, I didn’t actually go, like, I don’t remember actually ever going anywhere, just really desperately looking for them all the time.

Debbie: Aww, that beautiful story. I love it.

Rachel: Yeah. Yeah. So I don’t really look for portals in the same way. Like in my everyday life, I’ve kind of stopped, looking in the sense. I don’t know, are you on the lookout for, for other worlds?

Debbie: I look in my well, whenever I go swimming and my pool all week, it always looks like it’s changing colors.

So I’m hoping that one day I’ll be able to dive in and go to another world.

[rhythmic outro music with energetic percussions emerges]

Rachel: one more thing.

A lot of people have reached out to ask how they can support the podcast. The answer is to donate to BEING studio, BEING is a nonprofit and donating to the studio supports artists, not only in making this podcast, but also in creating and sharing their visual art.

You can help build a more accessible art world. Thanks so much to everyone who supports the studio and thank you for listening to SPEAK. See you next time

This episode of SPEAK featured Ada Chan. SPEAK is hosted by Debbie “the dragon” Ratcliffe and Rachel Gray. Intro and outro music by Jesse Stewart. Episode music by Christina Bell. Our consulting editor is Allie Graham. Our sound mixer is Erin Flynn. We gratefully acknowledged the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.