Our workshop at the International Playback Theatre Network conference in Montreal provided an opportunity for directors, and individual performers, to think with us about disability, inclusion, and aesthetics. The time allotted to the workshop passed much too quickly as we engaged in a deep conversation about these difficult topics.
One of the most challenging aspects of any conversation about theater and disability is making the distinction between theater for, theater by, theater to, and theater with. Still other categories have been suggested, perhaps in an effort to thicken our understanding of this thorny topic.
These distinctions have evolved to address the difference between theater practices that nominally include persons with disabilities, those provide programing to persons labeled as disabled, and those that seek to be truly inclusive. The latter may originate in group or individual work by disabled persons, or by ensembles of “mixed abilities,” in which the presence of disability is acknowledged, but normalized, resulting in an aesthetic that explores the differently abled body-mind as a vehicle for storytelling in myriad ways. Continue reading
This morning I read the following post from Juliana Farha, posted on her blog, Two Worlds: Notes and Observations. The post, Why Music? Notes on Reciprocity, struck a deep note within me. Juliana writes:
Although she dreamt of learning the cello, my sister never played an instrument. She loved to sing but her voice wasn’t especially good: our annual duet of The Boar’s Head Carol at Christmas was as close to choral performance as she ever got. And yet Darya’s connection with music was so profound, her sense of the musicality of life with its singular and idiosyncratic rhythms so innate, she was one of the most musical people I’ve known.
Darya died of breast cancer more than three years ago, and in less than a month’s time The Forge in central London will host the premiere of Reciprocity, a half-hour chamber work based on her poetry which I commissioned from the exciting young composer Daniel Patrick Cohen……
Jennie read and reviewed the newly released book, Dancing with Diana. Here is a bit of her review:
“Thoroughly enjoyed Dancing with Diana. I was appreciative of the way in which Diana’s story is interwoven with Alex’s story-I also deeply appreciated the first person narrative of a young man in a socially and physically non-cooperative body. For both, in the end, a story about being bullied. We are with him as he grows up and finds his authentic voice. A book in which there are multiple teachable moments within the pages.”
“The future Princess Diana dances for five minutes with a teenage boy in a wheelchair, an encounter that colors the rest of his life, though quickly forgotten by her. Alex’s story is told in counterpoint with Diana’s final day before her fatal accident in Paris. All day she tries to reach a friend in London, hoping to hear news that will bring a new direction to her life.”
Take a look at Dancing with Diana!
Every now and again a piece of theatre writing catches my attention, my history, and, perhaps, some reflection of my soul. The following post from HowlRound, is just such a piece.
Here is a profound piece of writing from Kaite O’Reilly. In a blog post entitled, Answering back and returning the gaze: Alternative Dramaturgies, she speaks of her work playwrighting disability:
How do we ‘write’ disability? Is it in the aesthetic, the narratives, the content, the form, or the bodies of the performers? This paper seeks to introduce ‘alternative dramaturgies, informed by a Deaf and disability perspective’, exploring some of the dramaturgical developments I have initiated as a playwright working within disability arts and Deaf culture since 1987. Alternative? To the mainstream, hearing, non-disabled perspective, and by ‘alternative dramaturgies’ I mean the processes, structures, content and form which reinvent, subvert or critique ‘traditional’ or ’conventional’ representations, narratives, and dramatic structures in performance
The folks at Bardo posted to update us on their collaboration with 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change:
“The founders of 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change are enthusiastically rolling forward. Founders Michael Rothenberg (poet and editor of Big Bridge Press and zine, and Terri Carrion, poet, writer and associate editor and visual designer of Big Bridge Press and zine, have pages set up for all participating organizations. THE BARDO GROUP event page is HERE. We take this opportunity to thank Michael and Terri for their vision and their work.
Michael and Terri have written:
“The first order of change is for poets, writers, musicians, artists, activists to get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This will change how we see our local community and the global community. We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity. It will be empowering.” MORE
Community, Collaboration, and Conservation Around the World shared this story of a highly influential British street artist changing the fate of a struggling boys club. A brief, inspiring read.
I’ve been remiss in posting. Truth is, I have been swamped with surgeries, each relatively minor and each requiring an extended period of recovery. I’ve also been working. Most recently I was on vacation. Continue reading
Here is a moving post from Kaiteoreilly. In dark times such as ours, the arts, services to marginalized folks, and basic human kindness often go out the proverbial window. Yet, somehow we keep making art. Maybe this has something to do with the needs of the soul.
In praise of theatre and collaboration
Making theatre can be life affirming, Sometimes when I collaborate with others, I realise how remarkable humans can be. At the great risk of sounding like some evangelising naïf who has just undergone a religious conversion, or taken too much MDMA, I have to say working with Gaitkrash, The Llanarth Group and Theatre P’Yut has been one of the most rich, harmonious and satisfying experiences of my working life