Incapacity and Theatricality: Politics and Aesthetics in Theatre Involving Actors with Intellectual Disabilities, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Incapacity and Theatricality

Politics and Aesthetics in Theatre Involving Actors with Intellectual Disabilities, 1st Edition

By Tony McCaffrey


198 pages

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Hardback: 9780815349204
pub: 2018-12-27
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Incapacity and Theatricality acknowledges the distinctive contribution to contemporary theatrical performance made by actors with intellectual disabilities. It presents a close examination of certain key theatrical performances across a variety of different media, including John Cassavetes’ 1963 social issues film A Child Is Waiting; the performance art collaboration between Robert Wilson and Christopher Knowles; and the provocative pranksterism of Christoph Schlingensief’s talent show mockumentary FreakStars 3000.

Tracing a global path of performances, Incapacity and Theatricality offers an analysis of how actors with intellectual disabilities have emerged onto the main stage, and how their inclusion calls into question long-held assumptions about both theatre and intellectual disability.

For postgraduate students, or anyone interested in the shifting dynamics of twenty-first century theatre, McCaffrey’s work offers a vital consideration of the intersubjective relations between people with and without intellectual disabilities and ultimately addresses urgent questions about the situation and representation of the contemporary subject caught up somewhere between incapacity and theatricality.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Framing the singularities of actors with intellectual disabilities in theatrical performance

Chapter One: ‘A spotlight on the subject of retardation’: A Child is Waiting

Chapter Two: Mirror stages: Aldo Gennaro and Robert Wilson

Chapter Three: Parody, intermediality and postdramatic turns

Conclusion and afterword: Lines of flight


About the Author

Tony McCaffrey is a Lecturer in Creative Industries at the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Arts, Ara Institute, Christchurch, New Zealand. In 2004 he established the Different Light Theatre Company, an ensemble of performers with intellectual disabilities.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Theatre & Performance Studies

This series is our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections. Considering theatre and performance alongside topics such as religion, politics, gender, race, ecology, and the avant-garde, titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Dance / General
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / Direction & Production