by SOPHIE KERMAN
Over the past few days, Anna and I have explored the three very different plays on offer at the Mixed Blood Theatre‘s Center of the Margins festival, which celebrates the often-neglected perspectives of individuals with disabilities. We have to commend the Mixed Blood for undertaking such a project to begin with: there were significant artistic challenges in staging all three of the plays on offer, and the Mixed Blood approaches these challenges with an admirable honesty and genuineness of intent. The program also features some stand-out performances from the plays’ principal actors: most notably, Nic Zapko and Alexandia Walles (Gruesome Playground Injuries), Skyler Nowinski and Laura Robinson (On the Spectrum), and Brittany Bradford (My Secret Language of Wishes).
What is interesting about the selection of plays is that all three have rather conventional plot lines. This suggests that the most pressing concern at the moment is in demonstrating that people with disabilities are also just people, too – capable of participating in the same mundane dramas that “fully-abled” people are. Although we critique this conventionality from a dramatic perspective, this may be one situation when ideological importance trumps our own artistic biases. When Hollywood has only just begun to deliver comedies featuring women in central roles – much less people with any form of disability – it is painfully clear that we are miles away from the type of mainstream equality that we would hope for. For the steps the Mixed Blood has taken toward equal representation, we applaud them.