The past five months, I’ve been in Berlin researching a new book.  Much of my time is spent learning about difficult things, such as how disabled people were killed under the Nazi Aktion T4 program.  But much of my time is also spent partaking in the extraordinary cultural riches of Berlin.

The past few years, I’ve developed an interest in theater troupes comprised of disabled performers.  For my birthday this year I was given a very large book about Theater Hora, a Zurich-based theater company that’s been around for twenty years.  In Frankfurt, I was able to meet with Michael Elber, the director of Theater Hora, as well as some the Hora actors.  I was also able to see “Mars Attacks,” their collaboration with Das Helmi, a Berlin-based political puppet theater.

In Berlin, I’ve met with Marcel Bugiel, the dramaturge for “Disabled Theater,” Hora’s collaboration with choreographer Jerome Bel.  The production has traveled around the world and has become perhaps the most talked about, and widely seen, performance of a disability-based theater.  Marcel sent me this very interesting article at Dis magazine about “Disabled Theater,” written after it was performed in NYC (one of the cast members was nominated for a Bessie Award).  I think the article brings up many important issues about disabled performers on stage, so I thought I’d share it here.

http://dismagazine.com/disillusioned/59706/disability-and-disabled-theater/

 

Disability Theater: A Note from Berlin
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Kenny Fries is the author of The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin's Theory, which received the Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights, and Body, Remember: A Memoir, as well as the editor of Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out. His books of poems include Anesthesia and Desert Walking. In the Province of the Gods, for which he received the grant in innovative literature from Creative Capital, is forthcoming. He was commissioned by Houston Grand Opera to write the libretto for "The Memory Stone," which premiered at Asia Society Texas Center. He has been a Creative Arts Fellow of the Japan/US Friendship Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fulbright Scholar to Japan, and has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council. Stumbling over History, his current project, received a grant from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange).
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