Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Staging the Complexities of Care

Martyna Majok’s Cost of Living

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2018), 12, (2), 145–161.

Abstract

The article discusses Martyna Majok’s play Cost of Living. This recent American play, about two couples in which a nondisabled person is the caregiver of a disabled person, could on the surface be read as a typical representation of disability in mainstream drama. Audiences might see it as a sentimental representation of care, with its characters embodying stock stereotypes of the embittered cripple or the heroic overcomer, and eventually erased at the play’s end. Yet for all that, the play matters to disability arts and activism. Cost of Living reminds us, through staging care relationships occasioned by disability, that connecting across identities, including disability, is vital in order to counteract larger systemic oppression. In this way, disability is a source of embodied and relational knowledge that compels us to understand the interwoven, oppressive forces that are threatening people who are poor, disabled, and otherwise disenfranchised because of race, gender, sexuality, or immigrant status. Bodily precarity has a complex and compelling representation in Cost of Living not in spite of, but because of disability. The play thus reminds us how we might seek out disability’s similarly nuanced deployment in other mainstream dramas as a powerful agent to counter social insecurity and injustice in a troubled age.

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Author details

Fox, Ann M.