Representational Conundrums: Disability and Dramaturgy in 2018

Prof. Carrie Sandahl

Taking stock of the past 20 years of disability theatre internationally, Carrie Sandahl identifies key “representational conundrums” in the field of disability and dramaturgy. These conundrums are puzzling, paradoxical questions that arise when thinking through issues unique to disability representation on stage. Using examples primarily from Western countries, Sandahl addresses conundrums related to training, casting, collaboration, professionalism, marketing, aesthetics, diversity, and theatre criticism. She encourages scholars and practitioners to recognize the significant artistic and scholarly contributions those of us in disability theatre studies and practice are making to the field. Just as we abandon the “cure” of disabled bodyminds, so too should we abandon the prospect of solving the representational conundrum. Instead, we should ask what value we find in disability and the commotion our presence creates.

Disabled Bodies in Discourse

Prof. Demis Quadri & Sara Bocchini

This sub-project of DisAbility on Stage focuses on the exploration of a theatre with performers with disabilities based on a physical theatre approach to stage practice and creation. Through a preliminary academic survey and a practice-as-research theatre workshop involving members of the Teatro Danzabile ensemble and Master students of the Accademia Teatro Dimitri, Disabled Bodies in Discourse brings out potentialities and issues in a complex interweaving of theory and practice. Physical theatre can help to overcome the barriers established by verbal and classificatory approaches to we way society currently perceives disability. We ask after the problems that might arise when different expectations, sensitivities, languages, points of view, interpretations, training and skills come into contact in the theatre environment. Such differences may lead to problems on stage, which elicits a further question for discussion: To what extent can problems be understood as a productive outcome rather than as deficit in the performance?

Freie Republik HORA – An Interdisciplinary Account of Rehearsal Processes and Audience Responses

Dr. Yvonne Schmidt, Nele Jahnke, Sarah Marinucci, Remo Beuggert & Gianni Blumer

The long-term performance project Freie Republik HORA pursues two goals. The first goal is about developing new models of the division of labour, in which the ensemble members of the Theater HORA are for the first time not only involved as performers, but also as directors. And as a second goal the theatre experiment promotes the exchange between audiences and theatre practitioners with cognitive disabilities. In the third of a total of six phases of Freie Republik HORA, six HORA directors implemented their directing concepts. In this context the lecture focuses on finding answers to three distinct questions: To what extent is the directing process influenced by the interactions between the director and his position and the ensemble in the rehearsal space, understood as a ‘memory space’? What functions do the assistants/facilitators take on and how are power relations explored? How does the audience react and which formats of exchange between artists and audiences emerge?

Salon to Move

Prof. Georges Pfründer, Prof. Ulla Klingovsky & Edwin Ramirez

In this salon, provocative questions on the topic of DisAbility on Stage will be asked. The perspective brought into the salon feeds off the concept of critical diversity literacy and will ask: What is happening here? Who takes up room? Who remains speechless? Whose language is heard and experienced? What remains unsaid? Let yourself in, observe, intervene, and move perspectives with us.

The salon is instigated by: Ulla Klingovsky, Edwin Ramirez, Georges Pfründer.

Laboratory: „Physical Theatre Disability“

Laura Cantù & Daniele Zanella

Me… Pinocchio

Who has not had the impression of “inhabiting” a body, or at least a part of it, that no longer feels like their own?

As in Collodi’s famous fairy tale, Pinocchio wants to become a „normal“ child and with his determination and purity of mind he manages to achieve this change, while masking his fragility with lies.

People with disabilities experience this sensation by force majeure and are defined as a fragile category.

But is being fragile the same as being weak? Maybe not.

Learning to manage one’s own fragility can become a strength.

This laboratory offers participants the chance to discover the fragile side of themselves, whether physical or mental, and transforming it into something unexpected, artistic.

We will be working on our bodies, highlighting our own fragility, in order to exprience other ways of being and to transform what seems to be into what could be.

The workshop aims to raise awareness amongst participants that the inclusion of performers with disabilities in the field of performing arts is an enrichment, both in terms of the artistic aspect and the human and social, overcoming persistent stereotypes.

Freie Republik HORA – A Workshop

Nele Jahnke & Gianni Blumer

Freie Republik HORA is a long-term experiment in which various forms of handing or taking over power, dethronement and expropriation could be experienced. It was guided by the question of whether there is a need for “others” to be told where to go.

Collective and solitary forms of assuming responsibility, negotiation and determination, as well as other forms of cooperation are tried out and examined to find out what practical exercises (and not just verbal negotiations) we can use to approach these issues.

Gianni Blumer, ensemble member and director of Theater HORA, and Nele Jahnke, director and co-artistic director of Theater HORA, have been involved in this process since the beginning of the Freie Republik HORA (2013) and would like to present various techniques they have used and try them out with the participants.