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Protest and Dissent

Conflicting Spaces in Translation and Culture

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Edited By Agnieszka Pantuchowicz and Anna Warso

Essays collected in this book discuss textual and discursive formulations of dominance and resistance. The authors analyze how they are narrated and re-narrated, framed and reframed in different social, political and language communities and realities, through different media and means, and translated into different contexts and languages. As the ways we name, rename, or label events, people and places have implications in the real world, the essays are also meant to investigate the ways in which we partake in negotiating its construction, its changing meanings and senses through the stories we tell and the practices we live by.

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P.H.*reaks: Protest and Disability Rights Activism in Theatre

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Edyta Lorek-Jezińska

P.H.*reaks:

Protest and Disability Rights Activism in Theatre

Abstract: This article discusses the collaborative project P.H.*reaks: The Hidden History of People with Disabilities (1994, Los Angeles) and the role of active protest and political action in the process by which people with disabilities build their identity, reclaiming the power associated with the concept of a freak and the freak show.

Keywords: protest, disability rights movement, freak show, drama, stare

Introduction

P.H.*reaks: The Hidden History of People with Disabilities is a collaborative theatre project first produced in 1994 in Los Angeles. The play was a result of the workshop conducted as part of the Other Voices’ History Project. The aim of the project, according to Victoria Ann Lewis, was to represent in a theatrical form the historically changing and socially constructed concept of disability based on collective experience (110). Other Voices is described by Lewis as a company dedicated to questioning the stereotypes of disability in drama and offering “opportunities for the professional development of disabled theatre artists” (115). The group based their creative process on collective creation, workshop, improvisation, and individual story-telling (Lewis, 115). The strategies employed in P.H.*reaks echo some of Brechtian epic theatre techniques and their later applications in alternative theatre, particularly the use of slide projections, documentary materials, episodic structure, distancing techniques and many other strategies used in political theatre. Their prototypes to a large extent can be...

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