Mouthpiece: Performing the Written Word

Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture Presents: Mouthpiece

The theme of Kickstart’s programming for this year is And I Shall Be Happy. This title is open to multiple interpretations and layers of political and social meaning, particularly for people with disabilities. Mouthpiece is part of this program.

First, people with disabilities are often seen as tragic figures by the non-disabled world, and it is a struggle for artists to move forward with optimism when surrounded by such negative and devaluing perceptions of our lives. At the same time, the pressure to “overcome our disabilities” and be happy and uncomplaining heroes is equally daunting. If we have mental health challenges, we must “be happy” to indicate we are cured, and if we have developmental disabilities, we must “be happy” while negotiating a world that excludes and belittles us. We are enjoined to be happy despite the real challenges and barriers we face, particularly as artists, in executing our vision and navigating a discriminatory world. Hence, negotiating both external and internal directives to “be happy” is an ongoing and complex process for people with disabilities.

This unique performance gives an audience the opportunity to see new collaborative works by these 12 talented artists. These works will take the form of song, dance, and performance.