Breaking Out: Theater For the Physically Disabled

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Brown, Casey
Kim Delong
Kay Satre
Valerie Gager
Date of Issue
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Series/Report No.
Breaking Out: Theater For the Physically Disabled
Other Titles
The group I am examining is physically disabled individuals. The organization who first brought this need for expression among the physically disabled to my attention was the National Theatre Workshop for the Handicapped. This theatre group was founded by Brother Rick Curry fourteen years ago in New York City. Brother Rick had finished his schooling and was seeking work as an actor. Because he was born without a right forearm, he was unable to find employment. So, Brother Rick decided to organize a school for talented, physically disabled individuals interested in pursuing a career in theatre. In the years that followed, the school grew with many of its students appearing in soap operas and films such as Awakenings. The National Theatre Workshop for the Handicapped is founded on Brother Rick's belief that 11 the physically disabled have as much a right to express themselves as do the able-bodied and he desires to see disabled actors onstage and on the screen alongside the able-bodied actors. He also wants to develop stories about the physically disabled, so their voices will be heard. This is the group which would inspire my thesis. I first came into contact with Brother Rick and his organization in the spring of 1993. I was a part of Carroll College's production of Warren Street House, an original play whose New York run was sponsored by Brother Rick. I next came into contact with Rick the following fall, when the National Theatre's cabaret group came to perform in Helena. As my junior year drew to a close and I began to think about what I wanted to do for my senior thesis, Kim Delong, the Fine Arts Department Head, suggested that I organize an internship with Brother Rick. I would use that experience as the foundation for my thesis, an acting workshop for the physically disabled, similar to Rick's organizations to be organized and executed in Helena. The internship was then set up for six weeks at the beginning of the summer of 1994. The first part of my thesis is a journal of those six weeks. I wanted to keep a record of what happened during the internship since it would directly apply to the work I would do in Helena. It also records some of the things I saw while I was in New York City, my experience as a summer student at New York University and what daily life was like. My journal entries, which are in italics, reflect my thoughts at various moments during my New York experience. The plain print, which follows each italicized passage, contains my current reflections about those thoughts including how they applied to the organization of the workshop I did in Helena. Following the journal is a description of the workshop for the disabled I ran in Helena. It puts into an organized format the things I learned in New York and illustrates how I tried to combine what I perceived from my New York experience with what I've learned from my years as a theatre student here at Carroll.
Degree Awarded
Fine Arts