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Forum on Disability Includes Theater With GU, Gallaudet Students

DiverseABILITY Forum

Visiting professor Susan Lynskey (left) and student actors rehearse the 'Visible Impact' play, an original work that is part of the DiverseABILITY Forum. Photo by Paulette Waltz.

October 17, 2011 – The DiverseABILITY Forum, which starts at Georgetown this Thursday, includes a panel on disability rights, a National Deaf Theatre Performance and a play with Georgetown and Gallaudet students about inclusion and diversity.

Running Oct. 21-23 (with repeat performances of the play from Oct. 20-23 and Oct. 26-29) the forum is sponsored by the university’s Department of Performing Arts.

“We could not be more proud to be the home of this extraordinary collaborative project,” says Derek Goldman, a Georgetown professor and artistic director of the university’s Davis Performing Arts Center. “It has been transformative to witness how the creation of this moving original, devised work, under the leadership of professor Susan Lynskey, is forging community and making visible the beauty and complexity of our differences.”

Educators and Advocates

Lynskey created and directed the project in collaboration with Rick Curry, S.J., founder and artistic director of the National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped, Willy Conley, professor of theater arts at Galludet and Open Circle Theatre artistic director Suzanne Richard.

Open Circle is Washington D.C.’s first professional theater dedicated to productions that integrate artists with disabilities.

The DiverseABILITY Forum includes workshops and discussions with award-winning guest artists such as Jack Hofsiss (C’71), who won a Tony for The Elephant Man, international and national policymakers, leading educators in deaf and disability studies and access advocates.

Visible Impact

The highlight of the forum is the play with Georgetown and Gallaudet students called Visible Impact.

“[The play] weaves monologues and movement, scene work and Shakespeare, and emergent and established playwrights who have a connection to the deaf community or the disabled community,” says Lynskey, a visiting assistant professor.

Offered during National Disability Employment Awareness Month, DiverseABILITY is made possible by Georgetown’s Reflective Engagement in the Public Interest Initiative.

All events will be sign-interpreted or sign-integrated and take place at the Davis Performing Arts Center’s Devine Studio Theatre.

Society’s Labels

The play focuses on how inclusion and diversity – particularly involving the deaf and disabled – have the power to make connections and enrich lives.

Visible Impact also tackles universal issues of identity, which drew many of the actors to audition.

“We are dealing with issues such as labeling, identity and the language that is used to refer to [many different] minority groups,” said Chase Meacham (C’14). “I was surprised to learn how deep some of these issues go. The question of how to identify oneself – especially considering the labels society has given – is one that causes real and prolonged pain for many people.”

Lillian Kaiser (C’12), another actor in the play, has cerebral palsy.

“I’ve never connected with anyone else about having a disability before,” she said. “Through this project, I’ve built relationships with other Georgetown students with disabilities for the first time.”

Related Information

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