Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Activating the Past

Performing Disability Rights in the Classroom

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2018), 12, (2), 185–201.

Abstract

The article discusses the development and performance of the documentary play On the Road to the ADA: a Reenactment, September 27, 1988, within the context of an introductory disability studies course at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2015. The authors review the experience of bringing together undergraduate students with disabled community activists and artists to argue for the efficacy of theatre to usher disability history into the present. Using the transcript from the US Congressional Record of the first joint hearing of the Senate subcommittee on the proposed Americans with Disability Act (ADA)—at the time still two years away from becoming a reality—the play voiced the stories of oppression that led to the passage of this ground breaking civil rights legislation. Mounted just a few months prior to the twenty-fifth anniversary of the ADA, the performance provided a portrait of disabled people as agents of political change even as it underscored the ongoing struggle for equality and inclusion.

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Rokem, Freddie. Performing History: Theatrical Presentations of the Past in Contemporary Theatre. Iowa City: Iowa UP, 2007. Print. Performing History: Theatrical Presentations of the Past in Contemporary Theatre Google Scholar

Sandahl, Carrie. “The Tyranny of Neutral: Disability and Actor Training.” Bodies in Commotion. Eds Philip Auslander and Carrie Sandahl. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2005. 255–67. Print. The Tyranny of Neutral: Disability and Actor Training Bodies in Commotion 255 67 Google Scholar

Schener, Caitlin. “Re: On the Road Workshop.” Received by Victoria Lewis. 14 Apr. 2015. Personal correspondence. Re: On the Road Workshop Google Scholar

Sweeney, Martin. Personal interview. 20 Jul. 2016. Interview. Personal interview Google Scholar

Sweeney, Martin. “On the Road to the ADA: A Reenactment, September 27, 1988.” Glorya Kaufman Dance Theatre, UC Los Angeles, 27 Apr. 2015, MP3. Performance. On the Road to the ADA: A Reenactment, September 27, 1988 Google Scholar

Tolan, Kathleen. “We Are Not a Metaphor: A Conversation about Representation.” American Theatre 18.4 (2001): 17–21. Print. We Are Not a Metaphor: A Conversation about Representation American Theatre 18.4 17 21 Google Scholar

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Willett, John. Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic. New York: Hill and Wang, 1992. Print. Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic Google Scholar

Anderson, Michael and Linden Wilkinson. “A Resurgence of Verbatim Theatre: Authenticity, Empathy and Transformation.” Australian Drama Studies 50 (2007): 153–69. Print. A Resurgence of Verbatim Theatre: Authenticity, Empathy and Transformation Australian Drama Studies 50 153 69 Google Scholar

Bogdan, Robert. Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1988. Print. Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit Google Scholar

Botham, Paola. “From Deconstruction to Reconstruction: A Habermasian Framework for Contemporary Political Theatre.” Contemporary Theatre Review 18.3 (2008): 307–17. Web. From Deconstruction to Reconstruction: A Habermasian Framework for Contemporary Political Theatre Contemporary Theatre Review 18.3 307 17 Google Scholar

Burch, Susan and Kim E. Nielsen. “History.” Keywords for Disability Studies. Eds Rachel Adams, Benjamin Reiss, and David Serlin. New York: New York UP, 2015. 95–97. Print. History Keywords for Disability Studies 95 97 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Carnes, Mark C. Minds on Fire: How Role Immersion Games Transform College. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2015. Print. Minds on Fire: How Role Immersion Games Transform College Google Scholar

Davis, Lennard J. Enabling Acts: The Hidden Story of How the Americans with Disabilities Act Gave the Largest US Minority its Rights. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2015. Print. Enabling Acts: The Hidden Story of How the Americans with Disabilities Act Gave the Largest US Minority its Rights Google Scholar

Favorini, Attilio, ed. Voicings: Ten Plays from the Documentary Theater. New York: Ecco Press, 1995. Print. Voicings: Ten Plays from the Documentary Theater Google Scholar

Fox, Ann M. “How to Crip the Undergraduate Classroom: Lessons from Performance, Pedagogy, and Possibility.” Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability 23.1 (2010): 38–47. Print. How to Crip the Undergraduate Classroom: Lessons from Performance, Pedagogy, and Possibility Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability 23.1 38 47 Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie, ed. Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body. New York: New York UP, 1996. Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body Google Scholar

Hudson, Kim. “Re: On the Road Workshop.” Received by Victoria Lewis. 9 Apr. 2015. Personal Correspondence. Re: On the Road Workshop Google Scholar

“Joint Hearing before the Subcommittee on the Handicapped of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources United States Senate and the Subcommittee on Select Education of the Committee on Education and Labor of the House of Representatives. One-Hundredth Congress. Second Session on S.2345: to establish a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of handicap. September 27, 1988.” ArchiveADA: The Path to Equality. Georgetown Law. Web. 10 Oct. 2017. Google Scholar

Kafer, Alison. Feminist, Queer, Crip. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2013. Print. Feminist, Queer, Crip Google Scholar

Kwak, Miso. “Re: On the Road Ensemble, a Request.” Received by Victoria Lewis. 23 June 2015. Personal Correspondence. Re: On the Road Ensemble, a Request Google Scholar

Lewis, Victoria. “Disability and Access: A Manifesto for Actor Training.” The Politics of American Actor Training. Eds. Ellen Margolis and Lissa Tyler Renaud. New York and Abingdon: Routledge, 2010. 177–96. Print. Disability and Access: A Manifesto for Actor Training The Politics of American Actor Training 177 96 Google Scholar

Lewis, Victoria. On the Road to the ADA: A Reenactment, September 27, 1988. 2015. Unpublished script. On the Road to the ADA: A Reenactment, September 27, 1988 Google Scholar

Lewis, Victoria. “P.H.*reaks: The Hidden History of People with Disabilities.” Beyond Victims and Villains: Contemporary Plays by Disabled Playwrights. Ed. Victoria Lewis. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2006. 63–109. Print. P.H.*reaks: The Hidden History of People with Disabilities Beyond Victims and Villains: Contemporary Plays by Disabled Playwrights 63 109 Google Scholar

Longmore, Paul K. Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2003. Print. Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability Google Scholar

Longmore, Paul K. and Laurie Umansky, eds. The New Disability History: American Perspectives. New York: New York UP, 2001. Print. The New Disability History: American Perspectives Google Scholar

Maroto, Michelle and David Pettinicchio. “Twenty-five Years After the ADA: Situating Disability in America’s System of Stratification.” Disability Studies Quarterly 35.3 (2015). Web. 27 Mar. 2016. Twenty-five Years After the ADA: Situating Disability in America’s System of Stratification Disability Studies Quarterly 35.3 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Nielsen, Kim E. A Disability History of the United States. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2013. Print. A Disability History of the United States Google Scholar

O’Toole, Corbett Joan. Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History. Autonomous Press, 2015. Print. Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History Google Scholar

Ott, Katherine. “Disability Things: Material Culture and American Disability History, 1700–2010.” Disability Histories. Eds Susan Burch and Michael Rembis. Champaign, IL: U of Illinois P, 2014. 119–35. Print. Disability Things: Material Culture and American Disability History, 1700–2010 Disability Histories 119 35 Google Scholar

Ott, Katherine. Personal interview. 9 Aug. 2012. Interview. Personal interview Google Scholar

Pelka, Fred. What We Have Done: An Oral History of the Disability Rights Movement. Amherst, MA: Massachusetts UP, 2012. Print. What We Have Done: An Oral History of the Disability Rights Movement Google Scholar

Rokem, Freddie. Performing History: Theatrical Presentations of the Past in Contemporary Theatre. Iowa City: Iowa UP, 2007. Print. Performing History: Theatrical Presentations of the Past in Contemporary Theatre Google Scholar

Sandahl, Carrie. “The Tyranny of Neutral: Disability and Actor Training.” Bodies in Commotion. Eds Philip Auslander and Carrie Sandahl. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2005. 255–67. Print. The Tyranny of Neutral: Disability and Actor Training Bodies in Commotion 255 67 Google Scholar

Schener, Caitlin. “Re: On the Road Workshop.” Received by Victoria Lewis. 14 Apr. 2015. Personal correspondence. Re: On the Road Workshop Google Scholar

Sweeney, Martin. Personal interview. 20 Jul. 2016. Interview. Personal interview Google Scholar

Sweeney, Martin. “On the Road to the ADA: A Reenactment, September 27, 1988.” Glorya Kaufman Dance Theatre, UC Los Angeles, 27 Apr. 2015, MP3. Performance. On the Road to the ADA: A Reenactment, September 27, 1988 Google Scholar

Tolan, Kathleen. “We Are Not a Metaphor: A Conversation about Representation.” American Theatre 18.4 (2001): 17–21. Print. We Are Not a Metaphor: A Conversation about Representation American Theatre 18.4 17 21 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Willett, John. Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic. New York: Hill and Wang, 1992. Print. Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic Google Scholar

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Details

Author details

Lewis, Victoria

Wolf, Sara Kishi