My dissertation, “Cripping Broadway: Neoliberal Performances of Disability in the American Musical” uses crip and queer theories as an analytic to explore the historical evolution of the Compassion Musical, a late twentieth and early twenty-first century form which dramatizes structures of sympathy for the seemingly faulty embodiments that result in individual and social deterioration of disabled protagonists. Many characters in this burgeoning genre are disabled in a pronounced way. These musicals structure a type of sympathetic or compassionate feeling for rather than empathy or association with the disabled subject onstage. This move is counterintuitive to the audiences’ own increasing commoditization as productive citizens under neoliberal late capitalism; just as the audience-consumer finds her/himself pushed towards hyper-capable versions of themselves through various technologies that augment economic and social labor, so too are performers progressively prostheticized in their stage portrayals of disability. “Cripping Broadway” unpacks tropes of disability representation by able-bodied actors playing disabled roles—a mode of performances called cripping up, crip-face, disability drag, and cripcature by various disability rights activists, performers, and scholars. I argue that by performing the “disabled body,” triple-threats (actors multiply talented in acting, dancing, and music) approximate deviancy through the spectacle of their extraordinarily able-bodied performances. In other words, there is a prosthetic relationship between theater’s embodiment of disabled characters and the acting bodies they employ to inhabit such nonnormative materialities. This study intends to query this paradoxical exclusion in the midst of a seemingly inclusive historical moment in contemporary theatrical history.
I have worked as a research consultant, dramaturg, playwright, and director for over thirty professional and university theatre productions, including work with the Abbey Theatre, The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, The Samuel Beckett Centre, and New Harmony Theatre.
Currently, I am developing a performance project entitled Grass Greener, which explores the social model of disability by having participants examine structural barriers to access, problematize disability simulations, and reimagine concepts of wellness.
I bring seven years of teaching experience in a variety of academic settings to the classroom. My current academic affiliations are with the English Department at George Washington University and Centre College's Semester-In-Washington program, where I am co-teaching Spring 2018 seminars on Disability Studies and Political Theatre, respectively. As a past faculty member of the West Virginia Governor's Honors Academy, I also have experience developing and teaching courses for high school students on a co-ed, residential living campus. In Summer 2018 I am joining the faculty of the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth's Institute Advanced Critical and Cultural Studies, where I will be teaching "Madness and Insanity: A Social History."