Plays “not shaped for sportive tricks”: New Dramas and Perspectives on Disability in Theater

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Anthony Dotterman/PAMLA Conference: Las Vegas, November 2021
contact email: 

 Alto Quayson argues that “in works where disability plays a dominant role, the reader’s perspective is [ . . .] affected by the short-circuiting of the dominant protocols governing the text—a short circuit triggered by the representation of disability” (254).  Indeed, while works such as Shakespeare’s Richard III may attempt to use the presence of disability to reduce its main character to “a single trait”—in this case, Richard’s moral degeneracy—disability also recalibrates and reorders the relationship between reader and text, text and genre.  For example, while Richard’s villainy seems to preclude defining Shakespeare’s play as a tragedy—in the classical, Aristolean sense—his physical abnormality may provoke feelings of pity or fear—even empathy—in the audience, making one rethink the rules and boundaries of the tragic genre.  Taken slightly further, one might argue that abnormal bodies are not simply “othered” but inherently subversive to identity, genre, and narrative. 

The following panel invites scholars to present on new critical approaches and perspectives to disability in theater at PAMLA's November 2021 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Essays may analyze the role of visual, physical, and oral performance in the staging of disability; disability narratives adopted for the stage—i.e., Simon Stephen’s The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time; disability as narrated through unique or specific perspectives: parents, care-givers, individuals with disabilities who tell their stories; and audience or reader response interpretations of disability in theater.  Special weight will be given to essays that examine more recent theatrical works that challenge the historical and traditional aesthetic representation of disability.   

Email abstracts of 500 words or less to and submit directly to by April 15th 2021.  Please note that this is an in-person and virtual conference for those who cannot travel.