voices in the family

Opening our eyes to intellectual disabilities



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September 10, 2012 — A unique artistic voice will play out at the Kimmel this month by a theatrical ensemble perceived to have intellectual disabilities.

The performance called “FOOD COURT” exposes audiences to blunt-force shaming and the expression of unfulfilled desires of individuals who are marginalize by their differences.

On Voices in the Family, Dan Gottlieb leads a discussion about intellectual disabilities – how those viewed as different sometimes struggle…and sometimes prosper in a culture that has come a long way to meet their everyday needs and desires.

Dan’s guests include: Celia Feinstein, Lisa Sonneborn, Robert Kurzban, Bruce Gladwin, and Sarah Mainwaring.

Celia Feinstein is co-executive director of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University’s College of Education.

Lisa Sonneborn is the Project Coordinator for Visionary Voices: Leaders, Lessons, Legacy. She has collected and continues to collect audio interviews of key people in the intellectual disabilities movement.

Robert Kurzban is an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania where he is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology. He’s written “Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind” now out in paperback.

Bruce Gladwin is artistic director of Back to Back Theatre Company in Australia. He brings to Philadelphia his company’s performance of “FOOD COURT,” a presentation of the 2012 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival.

Sarah Mainwaring plays the role of Leslie in Back to Back’s presentation of “FOOD COURT.”

For information about Intellectual Disabilities Services, visit www.dpw.state.pa.us

Photo credit: “Food Court” from the Philly Fringe Festival


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  • Mike Brandenburg

    Thank you for the broadcast. For my wife and myself, the most impressive part of the Democratic Convention was Gabby Gifford reciting the Pledge of Allegiance . The organizers deserve an applause for this scheduling

  • http://mindfulmusictherapist.blogspot.com Roia

    I always appreciate the fact that this show regularly acknowledges the existence, as well as the experiences, of people with disabilities. I think that’s terrific. That said, however, I think perpetuating the “aren’t disabled people special and inspiring and amazing because they’re doing what people without a series of labels do” narrative continues to place people with disabilities in the position of “not being like us”- essentially, not necessarily getting the point that appeared to be made by the actors in their production.

    The tendency in presenting these types of stories to the masses (and this is notable in all forms of media) seems to be to either dismiss and exclude (in which case, the story wouldn’t even be told) or to exalt and inflate people with disabilities.

    All that being said, I’m thrilled Voices in the Family continues to share these types of programs, and it would be spectacular to have more self-advocates share their experiences (without being interrupted by gushing interviewers to comment on how “inspiring” they are) of what it’s like to be a disabled person in a society such as it is. People’s true life stories are sometimes very difficult to hear (bullying and severe, prolonged abuse are extremely and disturbingly common in the lives of people with disabilities), but it’s necessary to the process of shifting attitudes toward people with labels.




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