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The desirability of difference

Both performing artists with disabilities and performing artists without disabilities bear a responsibility in shaping narratives about people with disabilities. In his research Marijn Prakke wants to investigate with both groups which dramaturgical strategies can be used to open up the dramaturgy for a group of people who often get trapped in the imagination of the majority. An important problem is that disability is often singled out by both co-creators and critics as the main signifier within the dramaturgy. That approach is based on a long history of looking at “other” bodies within the arts. The dramaturgy copies the mainstream gaze instead of counterposing it. That gaze deprives the disabled performer of the freedom of transformation – the freedom that performing artists without a disability claim when they are denied the opportunity to play a character with a disability. Can an actor with a disability claim some form of reciprocity? In other words, how can difference be present without being emphasized and all-encompassing? Marijn Prakke wants to strive for a dramaturgy that shows disability as artistically fruitful, as a critical and generative lens through which to look at society. His research question is: How can we, from a shared responsibility of people with and without disabilities, arrive at a dramaturgy in which differences in bodies, senses and thinking styles become artistically productive rather than problematic? How can disability be deployed in such a way that the room for imagination is enlarged instead of diminished? How can we collectively stretch our imagination?