Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

“The Bright Shapes Were Going”

Disability, Neurodivergence, and Theatrical Form in Elevator Repair Service’s The Sound and the Fury

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2018), 12, (2), 163–183.

Abstract

The article considers a theatrical adaptation of the “Benjy Chapter” from William Faulkner’s 1928 novel The Sound and the Fury created by the experimental theatre company Elevator Repair Service (ERS) and presented at the Public Theater in New York in the spring of 2015. Told from the perspective of Benjy Compson, Faulkner’s text contains one of the most significant and complex representations of a mentally disabled character in modern American literature. The article examines how ERS attempted to evoke Benjy’s consciousness using the specific affordances of theatrical performance. It argues that the ERS production asks questions about theatrical form in ways that echo and yet significantly diverge from the questions that Faulkner’s novel asks about literary form. In so doing, it further suggests that the emerging discourses of neurodiversity and neurodivergence offer powerful new methodological possibilities for theatre and performance studies.

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Author details

Hilton, Leon J.