TW: Ableism: and I didn’t think I could get angrier…
but I just looked up reviews for Dan Savage’s new play, Miracle!, in hopes that someone would address the ableism in the play and how we shouldn’t be producing theatre that reproduces/encourages oppression (I haven’t read any that do) and then I read this
The pink placard above the stage of Miracle!, which opened at Intiman on July 14, says it all: “The play you are about to see is deeply offensive to the Deaf-Blind community. Do not tell them about it. Keep your hands shut.”
Not funny. At all. This is not about whether the humor is crass or vulgar which all of the reviews praise no end. It’s about reproducing oppressive narratives, passing it off as a clever joke, and then telling everyone to not be so uptight. Disabled people are systematically denied access in theatre arts—I can’t even begin to count how many theaters I have been in that do not have easily accessible stages, not to mention how few directors there are that would understand needs around dyslexia, stuttering, etc.—and the above “joke” indicates the belief that the disabled community does not attend theatre either. And while I imagine that the producers would respond that it is a joke and that they value accessibility (in the narrowest sense), this type of joking reveals very real underlying assumptions about who theatre is for and what bodies and minds are deemed acceptable on stage.
Note: My own disabilities are hidden and so I do not experience the same discrimination in the theatre as people whose disabilities are not hidden. My response is not meant to speak for any community.